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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    20 years of Indie

    Rebecca Rillos
    Rebecca Rillos / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona International Film Festival volunteers Mia Schnaible, director of marketing, and Suzanne Borth, director of education and outreach, pose next to the wall of posters from past festivals at The Screening Room. The Arizona International Film Festival runs April 1 through April 20. The marquee of Tucson’s The Screening Room previews the Arizona International Film Festival, which begins this weekend. In honor of the festival’s 20th anniversary, the event will run for 20 days, twice as long as previous years.

    By the time Giulio Scalinger moved to Tucson in 1985, he had already worked on film festivals for many years.

    “”The last thing I wanted to do was another festival,”” said Scalinger, who is now the director of the Arizona International Film Festival. “”And here I am, 20 years later, not going according to what I had promised myself.””

    The festival began on Oct. 31, 1990, as a four-day event at the newly restored Temple of Music and Arts. It was the only film festival in Arizona at the time.

    “”As early as ’94, ’95, we actually took the festival to different locations like Sedona, Tempe, Scottsdale and Patagonia,”” Scalinger said.

    In keeping with its history, the festival will tour to Arivaca, Patagonia and SaddleBrooke, as well as Alamos in Mexico, for screenings, according to Mia Schnaible, director of marketing for the festival.

    To celebrate its 20th anniversary, organizers will screen 20 days of films from past festivals in addition to this year’s program, starting this Friday and ending April 20.

    Presenting independent films for 20 years is no easy feat, especially in light of the recent economic recession.

    “”We have been very true to our mission. … Our organization is for independent films,”” said Scalinger about the festival’s longevity. “”We are here for filmmakers. We try and give them an audience.””

    Part of the festival’s programming includes Film In The Schools, at which visiting filmmakers give presentations to students at local high schools and the Art Institute of Tucson, said Suzanne Borth, director of education and outreach for the festival.        

    “”It’s hard when you have a film festival and you have kids — to figure out which ones you should take your kids to, because they (the films) haven’t been rated,”” Borth said. So the festival will have family-friendly films at Crossroads Festival Cinemas 6, near East Grant Road and North Swan Road, on April 9.

    Charles Croft, a political science senior and festival volunteer since his freshman year, said he plans to enter the film industry after graduation.

    “”This is a good chance to see films you wouldn’t see in theaters,”” said Croft about the festival. “”I was never really big on independent film until I went to the film festival, and I was just amazed at the quality of films that were in it.””

    For anyone who hasn’t been to the festival before or seen an “”independent”” film, Croft recommends seeing the shorts.

    “”A lot of the shorts we have are from Sundance (Film Festival), and the animated shorts in particular are amazing,”” he said. “”If you’ve never been to a festival and you want to see one thing, the shorts are always good to see.””

    Croft also recommends “”Absentia,”” a feature film by Mike Flanagan.

    “”It’s like ‘Paranormal Activity’ on acid,”” Croft said.

    The festival kicks off at 8 p.m. this Friday at the Fox Tucson Theatre with “”Journey From Zanskar”” by Oscar and Emmy-nominated producer and director Frederick Marx (“”Hoop Dreams,”” “”Boys to Men?””), who is scheduled to appear at the screening. The documentary chronicles the efforts of two monks tasked by the Dalai Lama to preserve the traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture at Zanskar.

    For a complete festival schedule and to buy tickets, visit or call The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St., at 882-0204.

    What to watch for …

    ‘Stanley Pickle’

    Vicky Mather, U.K. 11 min.


    Like Dexter (both the boy genius and the serial killer), Stanley Pickle is hiding something below the clockwork of his daily life. There is a reason why the 20-year-old boy’s mum and dad move with the stiff predictability of wind-up dolls — because they are. A top tinkerer, Stanley has created the perfect stable family, and all it requires to thrive is just a little maintenance to make sure mum doesn’t set her hair on fire with the iron, or dad’s eyeballs don’t pop out. But Stanley’s routine world is rocked when he spies young, curvaceous Bluebell gliding through the field out his window, unhampered by walls.

    Though the actors and sets are real, stop-motion animation is used to beautiful effect to emphasize both the mechanical monotony of Stanley’s home life and the unpredictable fluidity of the world beyond. In a dream, Stanley sees Bluebell in a sun-kissed forest clearing, drifts silently through a carpet of leaves as if they were ice and she an Olympic skater. She pushes off of trees, performs effortless 360 degree spins and falls to the floor with outstretched legs without ever losing momentum. It is fitting that Stanley dreams this moment. It, like this film, is unbelievably enchanting.

    Stanley Pickle is playing Saturday, 10 p.m. at The Screening Room.

    — Brandon Specktor


    Mike Flanagan, USA, 2010, 91 min.

    “”Absentia”” is a dark, psychological thriller that will leave you questioning what really happened all night. True to classic horror guidelines, the opening score alone is shiver-inducing. “”Absentia”” is the story of Tricia, who finally declares her husband “”dead in absentia”” after he has been missing for seven years, and her sister Callie, a drug addict who comes to help her sis move on. It took me three hours to watch this 90-minute movie. I watched 10 minutes, freaked out, paused the movie, ran around my empty house with a baseball bat checking for monsters, resumed the movie and repeated that about five times. “”Absentia”” succeeds in terrifying, but also shows impressive direction and cinematography. Its only fault lies in the revelation of the monsters, which are a bit cliché. However, the psychological demons are the ones that will stay with you when you leave the theater.

    “”Absentia”” is screening Friday, April 8, 10 p.m. at Crossroads Festival.

    — Rebecca Rillos


    Joel Sacramento and Scott Feigen, USA, 17 mins.


    “”Genitalio”” is the story of a blow-up doll who longs to be a real boy.

    Yes, it’s a modernized “”Pinocchio,”” complete with a drunk, sad-sack father, a singing cartoon cricket and a bad influence — an S&M-style blow-up doll with a thick Jersey accent — who leads poor Genitalio astray. Unfortunately, no, it’s not as awesome as it sounds.

    This short is one of those things that sounds like a great idea when you posit it, but in reality, turns out sort of depressing and disturbing, and not in a good way. The short is poorly acted to the point of being irritating, and loses all that makes its source material charming. Still, it might be worth seeing for the low-budget cinematic magic of a walking, talking blow-up doll.

    “”Genitalio”” is screening April 2 at 6 p.m. at The Screening Room.

    — Heather Price-Wright

    ‘Peep Culture’

    Sally Blake, Canada, 59 min.


    Writer and social commentator Hal Niedzviecki agreed to participate in a documentary that examines the effects the Internet, technology and social media have had on our attitudes toward privacy and on our social lives. It wasn’t enough for Niedzviecki to just provide intelligent commentary, but he also had to “”livecast”” himself to the world in order to understand why anyone — and seemingly everyone — would want to subject his or her so-called life to the constant gaze of a camera.

    That’s not the most outrageous — and perhaps banal — part of “”Peep Culture.”” The documentary takes off when Niedzviecki interviews people who want to become a “”brand,”” if they haven’t already done so. He finds that this desire for fame or notoriety without high regard for personal privacy is not limited to those who grew up with the Internet. Niedzviecki even discovers a boot camp for reality television hopefuls — located near Los Angeles, of course — where participants are taught how to find “”the character that they already are”” and how to make it work for TV. At one point in “”Peep Culture,”” Niedzviecki asks, “”How am I going to get you to buy more of me?”” That is either one of the scariest, or most exciting, questions any of us will hear in our lifetime.

    Showing at The Screening Room, , on April 13 at 8 p.m. with “”Grandpa’s Wet Dream.””

    — Steven Kwan

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