City Week

Fantastic Features

Arizona International Film Festival

Friday, April 13, to Sunday, April 29

Various locations, including the Screening Room

127 E. Congress St.


Stefanie Leland said a chain of events led to horned toads becoming the stars of her film.

Leland was studying for a biology degree when she acquired a roommate who was studying theater. Her roommate sparked her interested in film—and Leland was soon hooked. She later managed to combine her biology background with her newfound love of cinema.

Leland's 74-minute film, Where Did the Horny Toad Go?, will premiere at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 15, at the Screening Room. The idea for the project blossomed when Leland and her film-industry friends had a discussion about how they hadn't seen horned lizards in a while. Leland said she expected the piece to be a short—but it developed into a 3-year-long project that eventually became a feature film.

"It just kind of happened," said Leland, an Oklahoma native who has been making films for about four years.

Leland said her research showed that humans have played a big role in the disappearance of the horned toads, and that the goal of her film is to "make the audience more aware of what is happening" and "become engaged and involved in conservation."

Leland's work is one of 92 films from 18 countries that will be shown at the festival, said Mia Schnaible, the festival's director of marketing and development. The mix includes documentaries, experimental pieces, comedies, shorts and animation, and includes several films made in Arizona.

Schnaible said guests will have a chance to talk with filmmakers from all over the world, and that it's a good way to "get a little taste of independent film."

For dates, times, locations and tickets, visit the festival website. —M.W.

Laughs for Public Access

Celebrating Free Speech

5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 18

Café a la C'Art

Tucson Museum of Art

150 N. Main Ave.


A celebration of free speech will double as a fundraiser for Access Tucson, programmer of the city's public-access TV stations.

The event will be headlined by two Tucsonans known for their comedy: David Fitzsimmons and Robert Mac.

You might recognize Mac from NBC's Last Comic Standing or Comedy Central. Fitzsimmons is the editorial cartoonist and a columnist for the Arizona Daily Star.

When the goal is promoting free speech and its First Amendment protections, "Comedy is a great place to start," said Lisa Horner, executive director of Access Tucson. "It's a uniter that allows us to talk about tough issues."

Access Tucson is holding the fundraiser because the organization is being forced to reduce the number of public-access channels it supports from three to one. In recent years, Access Tucson has lost significant funding from its cable and government partners.

To cope with the hit, Access Tucson has been forced to reinvent itself, Horner said. The organization will begin charging groups and organizations for memberships, though memberships for individuals remain free.

Although you may not always agree with the content being produced by those individual contributors, Access Tucson provides an invaluable service to the community by giving a voice to perspectives that may otherwise not be heard, Horner said.

"It allows Tucsonans to see something odd, or something very personal that they can connect to," she said.

Also included in the night's festivities is a silent art auction.

Tickets are $30, or $50 for a pair. Food and one drink are included in the cost. —D.M.

Celebrating With Little Joe

10th Annual Fiesta Grande Street Fair

9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, April 14; noon to 6 p.m., Sunday, April 15

Grande Avenue

Between Speedway Boulevard and St. Mary's Road


When Little Joe Hernandez learned what Fiesta Grande was about, he said he had to be a part of it.

"This is something that's good for the community and Tucson, and Tucson has been very, very good to me," Hernandez said. "Anytime I can be of service or of help to the people, I'm happy to do so."

His five-time Grammy-winning Tejano group Little Joe y la Familia will perform at Fiesta Grande's 10th annual iteration. The event also includes a parade, mariachi music, carnival rides, a car show, arts and crafts, rock-climbing, jumping castles and food.

The celebration of Tucson's westside culture and Barrio Hollywood history started when Grande Avenue was blocked off after a huge sinkhole formed in the street. Because so many businesses in the area were affected, the Barrio Hollywood Neighborhood Association decided to hold a fundraiser for them, said Rose Julia Nenninger, who is helping with public relations and sponsorships for the event.

Nenninger said the proceeds will help everyone in the community, from children to the elderly, by funding scholarships, equipment and activities for the Barrio Hollywood Neighborhood Association.

"It promotes positive, cultural and educational experience and ... facilitates opportunities and experiences within the neighborhood setting," Nenninger said.

Hernandez said his audience can expect high-energy music and good vibes. "Making people happy" and "seeing people have a good time" are what Hernandez said he loves most about performing.

"Music is therapy for all of us," he said. "I hope I can make it somewhat special for them. It will be special for me."

The event is free. —M.W.

Up in the Air

Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona: Celebrating 100 Years of Statehood

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

2600 S. Craycroft Road


You can celebrate our country's military aviation heritage—and its strong Tucson connection—while watching incredible demonstrations of flying skills at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base's open house.

The star attraction is the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron—better known as the Thunderbirds. The event also includes parachute jumps, historic and modern-day military aircraft, and barnstorming civilian pilots.

"It's a chance for the public to see the kind of thing that happens down range, in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Maj. Keith Wolak, director of the air show. For instance, a demonstration by combat search-and-rescue squads will show how personnel in convoys under fire are extracted from the battlefield.

"It's a great opportunity for people who see our aircraft from outside the base to know what they're actually training for," said 1st Lt. Sarah Godfrey.

The Tucson Radio Control Club will also be taking part.

"These radio-controlled airplanes are not what you see at Toys 'R' Us," Wolak said. "They're (operated by) professionals who take a lot of pride in what they do."

Also performing is hang-glider Dan Buchanan. Usually confined to a wheelchair, Buchanan is an aviation enthusiast who, according to Wolak, decided: "'Regardless of what my disability is, I'm going to go out and do this,' and has performed at air shows for years and years."

Attendees are encouraged to bring donations of canned food for the Community Food Bank.

A schedule of events and information about parking can be found at the air show's Facebook page. The event is free. —D.M.

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