FIlm and Song

The work of Beverly Seckinger, a professor at the UA's School of Theatre, Film and Television, has been screened in film festivals across the world.

However, for this year's Tucson Film and Music Festival (TFMF), she decided to do something a little different.

Although she is best known for short films that highlight lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues—including the award-winning Laramie Inside Out, about the murder of Matthew Shepard and how it changed Seckinger's hometown of Laramie, Wyo.—she instead chose to submit a music video for the 2011 TFMF.

"Shine From the Valley" is the first music video Seckinger has ever submitted to a competition. The short video highlights the positive community response after the mass shooting on Jan. 8.

Seckinger explained that Mitzi Cowell, a musician and her friend, wrote the song "to celebrate Tucson's positive, loving, nonangry response" to the fatal events.

Seckinger collaborated with her students and local musicians to produce the video, which was mainly filmed at the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. The crew replicated the candlelight vigils and memorials that took place in the aftermath of the shooting; extras volunteered to help re-create the community gatherings.

"It was not fake," Seckinger said about the replicated memorials. "People felt something, as if it were real. It was prayerful, and people are continually grieving, as if it were still January."

Seckinger, who is also a musician, has worked with Cowell since the early '90s. The two have played in bands together, and Seckinger has used Cowell's music in other films.

"It's a unique opportunity to tie together my music community, filmmaking and teaching into one project," said Seckinger. "It's really great to work with the students outside class, too."

Cowell described the video production as a gathering of professional musicians who are all friends, and who "just wanted to do (the video) for a free movement of generosity."

She noted that the students played an important role in helping create what she envisioned. "It was really exciting to see young, bright people getting excited about my song," she said.

This is the first year in which Seckinger and Cowell have submitted a film to the Tucson Film and Music Festival. The world premiere of the "Shine From the Valley" music video will take place during a showing of short films at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9, at the Century El Con 20.

Now back for its seventh year, the Tucson Film and Music Festival features an impressive variety of music-related films, including shorts, narratives, music videos and documentaries.

This year, the festival is giving a "special nod" to films that have a connection to the Southwest, such as Kumaré, which was largely filmed in the Phoenix and Tucson area. It won an award at the 2011 South by Southwest festival.

"Tucson is a music town," said festival director Michael Toubassi. "It's a perfect audience, because we have so many great musicians here."

The noncompetitive festival features both international and local films, with several world and Southwest premieres. The highly anticipated Southwest premiere of the documentary Better Than Something: Jay Reatard will be screened on Friday, Oct. 7, at the Rialto Theatre.

"If you don't know who he is ... well, you should know. If you already know who he is, you'll love the film," Toubassi said about controversial garage-rock icon Jay Reatard.

The festival will also host musical performances. Fish Karma, Al Perry with Skip Heller, and Ghiant are performing at The Hut on Saturday night, with The Pork Torta playing on Sunday. Admission is $5 each night.

Although past festivals have included more musical performances, Toubassi wanted to put an emphasis on films this year, he said.

The Century El Con 20 will be the venue for most of the screenings. Also, local-favorite coffee shop Café Passé is the headquarters for the film festival. Interested filmgoers can find festival programs and information there.

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