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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Filmmakers bring worldly talent to Tucson

    Alex Guyton

    Indie the Coyote, the Arizona International Film Festival’s mascot, mans the massive 35 mm projector in The Screening Room.

    This weekend, films and filmmakers from all corners of the globe will begin to flock to Tucson. The Arizona International Film Festival kicks off tonight, offering a wide range of independent films.

    This is the 23rd year of the program, making it the oldest film festival in the state of Arizona. The first festival was only four days long and held at the Temple of Music and Art. This year’s iteration is sixteen days long and has screenings at both The Screening Room and Grand Cinema Crossroads 6.

    “Way back when, before anybody had film festivals, after the film festival played in Tucson, they would tour their 35 mm prints in the back of a car and they toured the state,” said Mia Schnaible, director of marketing and development for the AIFF.

    This will be Schnaible’s twelfth year with the festival. She originally started off as a volunteer ticket taker, but now her responsibilities include getting sponsors and advertisers and promoting the festival.

    There are some staggering numbers associated with the Arizona International Film Festival. More than 90 different countries have had films shown over the course of the festival’s life, with 31 countries this year, including Mongolia for the first time.
    “The international flavor has been right from the get-go,” Schnaible said. “What has expanded is the number of countries.”

    This year, the festival has a unique Cine Cubano program of fourteen Cuban films, as well as a collection of Irish shorts. Schnaible also estimates that 70 different filmmakers will come to Tucson accompanying their films.

    “The cool thing about film festivals is you get to meet the filmmakers,” Schnaible said. “You get to ask the filmmakers questions, you get to hang out.”

    One of the films screening is “Eat Spirit Eat”, an indie comedy that follows Oliver (Owen Williams), a young man who has refused adoption from a foster home in hopes of finding his real father. He recruits his childhood friends from the orphanage to make a film in order to discover and win back his actor father.

    Actress Mishel Prada, whose family is Dominican and Puerto Rican, plays Ana, one of Oliver’s grown up orphanage friends. Ana’s aspirations of becoming a ballerina hit a snag when she is adopted into a family that is almost a caricature of the whole chola culture, according to Prada.

    “It was an interesting thing, kind of developing that character, because I think that, as a Latin woman in the film industry, there’s a lot of stereotypes that really are very prevalent,” Prada said. “You’re either playing the maid or you’re asked, ‘Will you do it again but with an accent?’”

    While exploring the character, Prada found the common humanity of her character beyond the tattoos and shaved-off, painted-on eyebrows of a stereotypical chola.

    “I think we do that a lot as human beings, that we will listen to certain music or wear certain things or be all of these outward things so that other people know, ‘Yeah, we’re the same, we’re the same,’” Prada said. “But it’s not always about that.”

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