The first-ever international Loft Film Festival is bringing filmmakers with Tucson links back to the Old Pueblo to showcase their best, new and favorite films.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker and former Palo Verde High School student Kirby Dick will be making the trip to Tucson from his home in Los Angeles to present a documentary he chose for the festival, The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On, at 5:15 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14. The 1987 Japanese documentary, directed by Kazuo Hara, follows former soldier Kenzo Okuzaki's investigation into the disappearance of fellow comrades in World War II. Okuzaki pulls out all the stops to find the truth.
"He gets into physical fights with some of the people he is investigating. It is extremely intense; it's funny, outrageous, and it brings up all sorts of ethical issues," Dick said. "At the same time, it is investigating basically the most horrific thing one person can do to another: What was behind it all was the fact these officers were eating their own soldiers. He goes to those officers, and he challenges them."
Dick has a variety of film experience and investigative documentaries under his belt. He first delved into documentary work when he was at the California Institute of the Arts.
"I was in an arts school and kind of working in video art, and the work became more narrative and long-form. It had some documentary elements to it, so I decided to go out and try to make a feature-length documentary—which I did, and it was very successful. That set me on that path," said Dick.
The documentary was called Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate. It followed a sex surrogate and featured her interactions with clients.
Dick followed Private Practices with more films, including the Oscar-nominated Twist of Faith, about a firefighter from Ohio who confronts sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a catholic priest during his childhood. The film came out in 2004-2005, just as the Catholic Church was being called out for clergy abuse globally.
Last year's Outrage outed politicians who were keeping their sexual identities hidden, yet voting against gay rights.
"It makes a very strong case for outing people who are hypocritical," Dick said about the film. "They are closet cases, but they vote anti-gay. When the film was shown, I thought all types of debate would come up. I had more than 50 Q&As, and not one person after they saw the film said that they were opposed to reporting on hypocrisy."
Regarding his films, Dick said, "All of my work really is about outsiders, about people in one way or another who either stand up to the system of have an outsider perspective on the system.
The Loft Film Festival will showcase more than 20 different films and will feature appearances by many famous Tucson-connected individuals, including Rosanna Arquette, Griffin Dunne, Chris Eyre, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana.
Alex Cox will also appear at the festival. Hailing from Liverpool, England, Cox came from Oxford University to UCLA on a Fulbright scholarship and traveled to Tucson to shoot a film called Walker. He ended up staying for a couple of years, living in a seedy motel near Oracle Road and Speedway Boulevard; he says Tucsonans were kind and courteous.
Prior to Walker, Cox wrote Repo Man and made the film Straight to Hell. A souped-up version of Straight to Hell will be shown at the festival, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 13.
"It is a re-mash-up of the original, but with special effects that didn't exist at the time of the filming," explained Cox.