When it comes to things to do on warm spring nights, Tucson can't compete with a metropolis like New York City. And if we're talking cool independent movies, Tucson's got nothing on Los Angeles. But for the next 10 days, Tucson's got both of those cities beat.
For the next 10 days, no movie fans should complain there is nothing to do in Tucson.
For the next 10 days, calendars should be full from morning to night.
For the next 10 days, your eyes should be so destroyed and your butt so sore from the movie marathon that blood from your swollen sockets drips onto the sidewalk as your limp legs carry you home from one of the 10 venues hosting the 18th annual Arizona International Film Festival.
OK, maybe that last one went a little too far. But this event is a big deal, and not just for indie-movie junkies, according to festival director Giulio Scalinger.
"There's always a hard-core group that will come—they basically take their vacation time, you know, because we see them every day at every screening—and they see all the films," Scalinger says. "But most people just cherry-pick movies they want to see."
Tucsonans should have no problem finding a film tailored to their interests, considering the festival includes more than 100 films from more than 30 countries,
You like bicycles? Ride over to the free opening-night "bike-in movie" at La Placita Village and check out bicycle films: BICAS Works, a short by Tucson's own Rhys Stover, followed by Veer, documenting Portland's crazy naked-jousting bicycle scene.
Too old for that stuff? Enjoy the wisdom in Natsu no Utage (Summer Trip), a film about two retired friends hitting the road for one last hurrah through the misty Japanese landscapes of their youth, on Sunday, April 19.
Think you're too busy practicing telepathy to watch movies? You guessed it—there's something for you. Something Unknown Is Doing We Don't Know What, showing on Saturday, April 25, is a mystical documentary from South Africa. Inspired by a series of unexplainable events, the filmmaker interviews everyone from scientists and doctors to her daughter to get to the heart of psychic connections.
And those are just a few of the films.
"We always say there's at least one film in the festival for everyone, if they look," says Scalinger.
The festival has many constituencies, according to Scalinger. The most obvious is Arizona's independent filmmakers, and the festival will showcase 15 of them—12 from Tucson, because the Old Pueblo has a creative and active film community, he says.
After watching nearly 1,000 films in preparation for the festival, Scalinger says the quality from Tucson's film community can compete with the best in the world. Phoenix, he says, has a "very commercial-oriented" film community by comparison.
Another constituency is the Latino population, who are underserved in most film festivals, according to Scalinger. To combat this, the festival is hosting a Cine Chicano program and featuring Spanish films reflective of the community.
Young people also make up a constituency, and the Indie Youth program will show films by young people, for young people.
Organizers even thought of people who just aren't that into film. As the reels finish rolling at night, the music gets started with the Music Café, featuring indie musicians playing at venues around town.
While the specific themes target specific audiences, the festival's program theme is "bridging cultures." By allowing the audience a chance to view and think about cultures in a different way, and offering film-goers a chance to converse with filmmakers from the far corners of the Earth, the festival goes beyond "bridging cultures" as a theme; it's what Scalinger hopes the festival itself accomplishes.
"The importance of the festival is to give the community an event that allows them to see films that they don't normally get to see—these aren't the types of films you get to see on the commercial screens—and also to learn about different cultures. We feel very strongly that film is a wonderful bridge for cultures. ... We feel Arizona audiences, Tucson audiences, can learn a lot (about different cultures) coming to see all these different films."