Another week of indie films is upon us, and Film Fest Tucson is taking center stage in its four-day run. Also on the docket are some old Halloween classics and the Purple Rain Sing-A-Long that we might finally be ready for.
Film Fest Tucson
Running from Thursday, Oct. 19 to Sunday, Oct. 22 (but mostly on Friday and Saturday), Tucson's latest film fest shines a spotlight on all of the sweet, sandy splendor of Southern Arizona, with projects from both up-and-coming and "already up" filmmakers. Dozens of films will screen at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, 160. S. Scott Ave. Advance tickets at FilmFestTucson.com for $10 (plus service fee), or get a festival pass to see all of the screenings for $60 (plus service fee). Day-of tickets are available for the same price, starting 90 minutes before the first showtime of the day. Dozens of films are showing; but here are just a few to whet your appetite.
The Watchman's Canoe. A sweet and spiritual tale of a young girl's struggle is playing at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20 in the Red Room. Jett is a Native American living on a reservation in 1969, but her fair skin makes her feel like an outsider. When she finds herself able to summon the help of a tree to protect her from bullies one day, she starts to realize just how deep her connection with nature runs. She turns to a tribal "Watchman" to help her develop her skills and discover who she is. Writer, director and producer Barri Chase will be a special guest in a filmmaking panel at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21 in the Purple Room.
Weather House. Showing at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21, in the Red Room, this bizarre film thrives in a space where there's just enough ambiguity for things to be really creepy. A group of people (family members? Former coworkers? Complete strangers? The film never specifies.) all spend their days inside a house that is being deeply affected by climate change—inside and out. One man is engineering a system of wires throughout the house, a silent woman records every sound, and another man is tied to a plant. Part darkly humorous, part just plain dark, this timely film makes us think about the term "a force of nature." Director Frauke Havemann will be there as a special guest.
Shorts Program. Check out a sampling of eight short films, ranging from four to 16 minutes, in this program at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21 in the Blue Room. Head to the Wild West, an apocalyptic hospital, a lonely lighthouse and into the mind of a very jealous big brother in this 87-minute program that is perfect for anyone with a short attention span and/or concise art.
Supergirl. This documentary follows 9-year-old Naomi Kutin as she prepares for her bat mitzvah, middle school and an elite weightlifting competition where she'll be defending her all-time world record for the raw squat in the women's 97 lb. weight class (225 lbs.) As she faces cyber bullying, health problems and the weight gain that comes with growing up, she still lights up with excitement just talking about lifting, and makes us all look like woefully inadequate weaklings. Shows at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22 in the Purple Room.
See FilmFestTucson.com for tickets, a full-program guide and all the information you could ever want.
Cult Classics. In perhaps one of the most classic and tragic examples of "it seemed like a good idea at the time," the scientists in Jurassic Park create a theme park filled with real, live dinosaurs, which they created themselves using dinosaur DNA from the very beginnings of the earth 6,000 years ago. At 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20, and Saturday, Oct. 21, watch Steven Spielberg's film about what happens when security measures break down, havoc breaks loose and arms break off. Take this opportunity to remember how scary this movie actually is; it'll have you looking twice at the dinosaur at the McDonalds on Kolb and Tanque Verde.
Lina Wertmüller Film Series. Seven Beauties is the film that earned Wertmüller an Oscar nomination for Best Director—the first ever nomination in that category for a woman—along with three other Oscar nominations. It follows the story of Pasqualino, a would-be gangster who goes from home to prison to a psych ward to a concentration camp, where he makes a plan to survive and get out by seducing the truly unappealing camp warden in one of the filmmaker's most controversial scenes. Screening at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
Mondo Monday. Though it's still technically "Hail Satan" month at the Loft, there's a bit of a lack of allegiance this week with the screening of The Killing of Satan at 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 23. Some are born with a plan to kill Satan, some develop a plan to kill Satan, and others, like the main character of this movie, Lando, have plans to kill Satan thrust upon them. When his undead uncle saddles him with the task, Lando isn't really into it, but when the devil himself captures Lando's daughter and makes her a fixture in his bamboo cage-o'-virgins, Lando decides to buck up and take on the actual embodiment of evil in a big, beautiful, altogether bad showdown.
Dream Big: Engineering Our World. The poets, the musicians, the artists and the cinema columnists (just kidding) are often celebrated as the people who make our world beautiful and our lives worth living. In this free screening at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24, the accomplishments of the world's engineers are celebrated: buildings reaching for the sky, China's Great Wall visible from high up in the sky, solar-powered cars, underwater robots, smart cities and so much more. After all, aren't the technologies engineered to teach us more about our world, or to make our lifestyles more sustainable, or to build something awe-inspiring all things that make our world a better and more beautiful place? Event sponsors will table at the event, and a post-film panel will feature design/engineering professionals, along with high school and college students.
Home Movie Day 2017. There are stars among us, Tucsonans, and I think we all know it. Is there footage of you running around in your underwear in the sprinklers as a kid? Maybe of your grandparents spending a day at the beach on vacation, or some b-roll from that period where your mom had that really bad perm? At Home Movie Day on Saturday, Oct. 21, bring in your 16mm, 8mm or Super 8 vintage movie reels for film inspection beginning at 10 a.m. and screenings beginning at 11. It's a celebration of people who make films for fun, of the memories we can only dust off every so often and the magic that happens when they come together. A vintage interview with Bea Willis (Miss Arizona 1967) and a teaser from the Tucson Boys Chorus film Ambassadors in Levi's will also be featured, and others will be on hand with tips for how to best store, preserve and digitize your home video treasures.
Unrest. This Sundance Award-winning documentary, showing at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22, takes a look at a firsthand experience of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is exactly what it sounds like, but worse. In the midst of earning her Ph.D at Harvard, and mere months away from tying the knot with her fiancé, Jennifer Brea, 28, is struck with a fever and can't seem to get out of bed. In a search for answers and a fight for health, she takes a look into the world she is now a part of: the ME community (ME stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis, which is why people call it chronic fatigue syndrome, or just ME, instead) of millions, confined to their beds and silently suffering. As the director, Brea also allows herself to be vulnerable, sharing the struggles she and her new husband face in the face of her new diagnosis. Producer and Tucson native Alysa Hahmias and Tucson ME patient-advocate Sonya Heller Irey will be available for a Q&A after the screening.
Purple Rain Sing-A-Long! As the nation collectively moves toward the "acceptance" phase of grief over Prince's death, The Loft is here to help with this 7:30 p.m. screening on Saturday, Oct. 21. Watch "The Kid" pull off the alluring pirate look like no one else and try to launch his musical career in the face of poor parenting, romantic woes and band problems. Don't be late, or you'll miss the spicy Prince music videos, the Prince costume contest and the purple glowsticks. Face it, we could all use more rock musicals in our lives, and we could definitely use a lot more Prince.
Film at the Fence. As a part of the Borderland Film Festival 2017, Cesar Chávez, the biopic about the civil rights leader, will be screened simultaneously in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, on both sides of the border. More specifically, it will be at the Border Fence about 1,000 feet west of the U.S. border checkpoint, just west of West Street and West International Street in Nogales, Arizona. Bring your own seating and enjoy Michael Peña's portrayal of a man who, hero though he was, was still a one man—one who struggled to find the balance between being a husband and father and being an advocate for the masses. This free event will take place at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19.
Tuesday Night Classics. 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene, a film all about the iconic scene in Psycho (shot with 78 camera set-ups and 52 edits over three minutes) came out on Friday the 13th. It's rumored that actress Janet Leigh was so affected by the week of shooting the scene that she thereafter took showers only when she absolutely had to. To celebrate, revisit the Alfred Hitchcock classic itself at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24. We all know it as the classic film about a Phoenician tryst, where to hide an envelope full of cash and the touching love between a mother and a son. Visit harkinstheatres.com for more details.
Nightmare Before Christmas. Are you, Jack, the Pumpkin King, growing so tired of the same old thing? If the "same old thing" you're getting tired of is non stop-motion movies, Cats After Dark at UA has you covered with this screening of the classic Tim Burton flick at the Gallagher Theater. Come sing along to "This is Halloween," silently beg Jack to listen to Sally just once and keep your eyes pulled for a few Burton-esque hidden mickeys. And whichever side you stand on in the great debate over whether this is a Halloween film or a Christmas film, you're probably right. Burton has said the idea for the film sprung from the time of year in stores where Halloween and Christmas decorations are on shelves at the same time. Free with CatCard, $3 GA.
Footloose Outdoor Screening on the Mall. Kick off your Sunday shoes, and don't even bother to put on your Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday shoes. Because this special, free screening of Footloose is going down at 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19. Watching Footloose is always time well spent, but when the screening is part of #SpeakYourPeaceWeek, dedicated to recognizing First Amendment rights apply to all forms of activism and opinions, it's even more true. The screening will be followed by a discussion on freedom of speech with Faculty Fellow Stephanie Troutman.
The Addams Family. Ah, 1991. The year that brought us Ed Sheeran, the unrestricted commercial availability of the internet and The Addams Family. After 25 years, Gomez Addams is reunited with his long-lost brother, Fester—or is he? As Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday and Pugsley start to suspect faux Fester may have ulterior motives, things get really wacky as they play with swords, enter the job market and dig some graves, just in case. Showing at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22.