Indie Watch


First off, congratulations and kudos to the many folks--festival staff, volunteers and especially festival director Giulio Scalinger--who worked together to make the 14th annual Arizona International Film Festival another exciting and challenging festival. AIFF screened 16 films by Arizona filmmakers in addition to films from more than 20 countries outside of the United States, and numerous from within. The Best of Arizona award went to Bill Kersey's '87 Topaz short film. Other festival award winners include John Daly's The Aryan Couple, Trina Lopez's A Second Final Rest, Tomek Baginski's Fallen Art, Ignacio Nacho's Poliedro, Roger Weisberg's Rosevelt's America, Cary Funkunga's Victoria Para Chino and Jon Proudstar's Dude Vision.


Anyone interested in independent film production in Southern Arizona may want to note this date: Tuesday, May 3. The Arizona Production Association is organizing a Spotlight on Tucson Film Community mixer to bring together as many folks from the local film community as possible. In addition to the APA, the Independent Film Association of Southern Arizona, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, the Tucson Film Society and the Tucson Film Office will all be represented and will have their own tables. There will also be a table representing some of the local film festivals and one for business cards, various promo materials and production-affiliated vendors. The mixer runs from 5-7 p.m. at Gentle Ben's Brewing Co. (upstairs patio) at 865 E. University Blvd. This is a free event. Contact Sarah Sher at 623-3588 or check for more information. Note that this event will pre-empt the monthly IFASA meeting, which will be back the first Monday in June at 6 p.m. at Access Tucson.


Tucson's politically activated Pan Left productions--fresh off having three films in the AIFF--is having its own mini festival, Feature This! Hecho in America. Feature This! starts with a concert featuring the Solace Brothers and other music acts at the Solar Culture Gallery (31 E. Toole Ave.) on Friday, May 6. On Saturday, May 7, there are two screenings at The Screening Room (127 E. Congress St.): Hecho in America: Shorts presents several short films at 5:30 p.m.; the hour-long Maid in America shows at 7 p.m. Maid in America features three Latina immigrant women who work as nannies and housekeepers in Los Angeles. Panamanian born filmmaker Anayansi Prado may be on hand to speak after the film; that is unconfirmed at press time. The Web site is, and the phone number is 792-9171.


A reminder to local filmmakers: On Friday, April 29, the Loft Cinema and the TFC debut the Monthly Short Film Contest. Anyone can enter a film of 10 minutes or less simply by bringing a film to the Loft during the day on Friday or showing up at the Loft the night of the contest. Films will be screened in the order that they are submitted. Films need to be on DVD, mini-DV tape or VHS. A $100 prize will be awarded each evening, and the winning film will automatically be submitted for a yearly prize package. To keep things moving along, each film will be given the gong treatment: It will be guaranteed to play for three minutes; after that, if the audiences wishes, it may be gonged away. Max Cannon of the "Red Meat" comic strip will be guest gonger in April. The contest takes place at 10 p.m. the last Friday of each month at the Loft Cinema, at 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Cost is $5, and includes admission to The Loft's Late Night Film, which is usually shown at 10 p.m. each Friday and Saturday night, but is moved to midnight on contest nights. May's late-night films include The Goonies, Friday the 13th, The Warriors and Road Warrior. Call 322-5638 or check for further details.


May 12 marks the 2005 kick-off for the Cinema La Placita Film Series. This venerable tradition, now in its sixth year, screens films under the stars in downtown Tucson. The May lineup is: May 12, Charade; May 19, Camille; May 26, An American in Paris. Films screen around 7:30 p.m. at the La Placita complex of shops and offices on the southwest corner of Broadway Boulevard and Church Avenue downtown. Parking is available at the La Placita parking garage on Stone Avenue south of Broadway. Chairs are provided, although many locals bring blankets to stretch out on the grass. Cinema La Placita is free, although donations are always gratefully appreciated. You can e-mail or call 326-5282 for scheduling information.


Tucson filmmaker Mark Russell's feature length film, America 101, was a top draw at the AIFF, drawing large crowds to two screenings. America 101 is about two brothers, Angel (Miguel Castro) and Carlos (Richard Azurida), who leave their small town home in Sonora, Mexico, looking for work across the border in the United States. It now moves onto the Dances With Films Festival in Los Angeles for a screening on May 9. Dances With Films showcases films by first-time filmmakers. Check for more details.


Anyone wanting information on what's going on with local filmmaking in Tucson, from casting calls and Arizona festivals to what locals are on the festival circuit and more, should check out the Tucson Film Office's Web site at The TFO is currently working hard to push passage of Senate Bill 1347, legislation designed to help bring more film business to the state of Arizona. The Local Buzz section of the Web site is especially useful for keeping up with local activity. Their office number is 770-2151.
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