What's happening in the world of independent film in Tucson.

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FILM FEST FINALLY ALMOST HERE!

The Arizona International Film Festival celebrates its 15th season April 20-30 with numerous programs at The Screening Room, Crossroads 6 Grand Cinemas and other venues around Tucson. This year's festival will feature roughly 120 films from 16 countries, including Egypt, Hungary, Switzerland, Spain, South Korea, Nepal, Brazil, Mexico and Ireland.

Many ancillary events are included in the festival, including a ticketed, opening night reception co-sponsored by the Arizona Production Association (see the Association Web site for details), panel discussions (see below) and Filmstock, an evening of live music and music films and videos at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, April 29.

On Saturday, April 22, AIFF and Emerald Elephant Entertainment are presenting a panel discussion, "How to Prepare for the Coming Film Boom in Arizona." Panelists from several different film organizations in Tucson and around Arizona will examine how local filmmakers, actors and crew members can prepare themselves for an anticipated film boom, following new Arizona tax incentives aimed at promoting the film industry. This event is at the Beowulf Alley Theatre, 11 S. Sixth Ave., at 1 p.m., and there is no charge.

Advance Festival passes go on sale April 1 at the festival production office, 108 E. Congress St., from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For information on AIFF, as well as other events at The Screening Room, check the Arizona Media Arts Center Web site or call 628-1737. The Screening Room is at 127 E. Congress St.


MEDIA ARTS EVENTS

UA's Department of Media Arts is sponsoring a pair of events in April. At 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 13, the department hosts Damon Romine, entertainment media director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. GLAAD's mandate is to ensure fair, accurate and inclusive representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues and lifestyles on TV and in the media. Check the GLAAD Web site for more information. The event will be held at the UA Center for English as a Second Language, Room 103; it's free and open to the public.

Media Arts is also sponsoring panel discussions on filmmaking and distribution as part of AIFF, on Friday, April 21. Panelists include Edward Noeltner of the Cinema Management Group and filmmaker Michael Toubassi, who shot High and Dry about Tucson's music scene. The panels are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Marshall Building, Room 212. Call 626-1405 for more information or check the department's Web site.


LOFT-Y EVENTS

Max Cannon: Local cartoonist Max Cannon, of "Red Meat" fame, will be at the Loft Cinema on Friday, March 31, for the theatrical debut of his 10-part animated shorts series Shadow Rock, which is featured on Comedy Central's Web site. Showtime is 9 p.m. , and admission is $5. Cannon's Web site is www.redmeat.com. Cannon also hosts the popular First Friday Shorts Open Screen Night on Friday, April 7, at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.

Ballets Russes: Ballet Russe dancers George Zoritch and Rochelle Zide will be special guests at the Loft on Sunday, April 2, for a screening of the new documentary Ballets Russes. Zide and Zoritch both appear in the film and will talk about their time spent with the famous company at an after-screening discussion, hosted by James Clouser from the UA's Dance Division. Showtime is 1 p.m., and tickets are $5 or $4.50 for Tucson Film Society members.

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival: The Loft presents the festival, from Friday, April 7 through Sunday, April 9. This event is co-sponsored by The New York Times; check the Festival Web site for complete details. Admission is $5 per film, $30 for a general admission pass or $25 for TFS members.

Undiscovered Gems: The Loft is beginning a new monthly series on Monday, April 10, and Tuesday, April 11: indieWIRE's Undiscovered Gems. Each month, they will screen a film chosen from indieWIRE's annual list of best undistributed films. April's film is Jem Cohen's film Chain, which features an original score by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Screenings are at 7 p.m., and tickets are $5. Check the indieWIRE Web site for more details.

TucsonFilm.com ShortFest: Local filmmaker and musician Timothy Gassen and the Loft present the TucsonFilm.com ShortFest on Saturday, April 15. ShortFest is a one-day film festival showcasing independent short films from Arizona and around the country. Screenings and a filmmaker seminar run from 3 p.m. until 10:30 p.m.; tickets are $10. For full information, check the TucsonFilm.com Web site.

The Loft Cinema is at 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.; call 795-7777 for showtimes or check the Web site for further information.


DICK FISHER'S AWARD

Local filmmaker/producer/cinematographer Dick Fisher's directorial debut, Incident at Alma, recently won the Best Short Film award at the 2006 Arizona Black Film Showcase, held March 16-18 in Phoenix. Incident at Alma was shot in Cascabel, east of Tucson, and is based on a true story of the lynching of a black farmhand in rural Arizona in 1935. It is scheduled to play several national and international film festivals, including the AIFF in Tucson in April. More information on Dick Fisher's work is available at his Web site, and information on the Arizona Black Film Showcase is at the showcase Web site.

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