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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA alumni films in global festival

    The cinematic options in theaters today are bleak and overpriced.

    Luckily, the Arizona International Film Festival, running the next 10 days, offers a haven for indie film lovers and those who are fed up with bad Hollywood sequels and Lindsey Lohan’s attempts at comedy.

    The Arizona International Film Festival kicks off today and runs through April 30 with over 90 different films.

    “”We’re not dealing with Hollywood product, we’re dealing with independent films from all over the world,”” said Giulio Scalinger, director of the festival. “”I think the important thing about why a festival is important is that you have access to the filmmakers. You can talk to them about why they made the film or if you’re a budding filmmaker, you can learn more about the process.””

    Film entries come from 16 different countries and include films from those a little closer to home.

    Michael Toubassi, a UA alumnus, is premiering his music documentary “”High and Dry”” at the festival, which chronicles the history of the Tucson music scene and includes many bands from the scene, both past and present, like Calexico and Sand Rubies.

    The idea for “”High and Dry”” came from a visit Toubassi made home to Tucson.

    “”I was talking with friends and talking about the music scene, and someone said someone should really make a movie about the music scene. I was the only filmmaker in the room and so I said yeah, I think somebody should,”” Toubassi said.

    “”High and Dry”” addresses the trials and tribulations of Tucson bands, but it’s also about the fact that many people don’t know that a lot of great bands have actually come out of Tucson. It focuses on how these local bands are able to support themselves as independent artists.

    “”I think it rocks harder probably than most other films,”” Toubassi said.

    Tom Dunlap, another UA alumnus, also brought his Tucson background to his film “”Life List.”” What started as his senior thesis film, “”Life List”” compares the different experiences of two birdwatchers, one from Tucson and the other from Minnesota.

    “”The most obvious difference is that the Arizona footage was characterized by a lot of sun and the Minnesota footage was characterized by a lot of snow. Of course, I could have chosen to only shoot birders in Minnesota in the summer, but then there wouldn’t be as much of a contrast between the two locations,”” said Dunlap.

    A film about birdwatching might not seem like it would really appeal to the general public, but part of Dunlap’s goal in creating this film was to make sure that it would attract a wider audience.

    “”I wasn’t making a film just for birders. In fact, it was the opposite. This film was for an adult audience, not part of the birding community,”” Dunlap said.

    Although “”Life List”” started out as a student film, Dunlap prefers not to refer to it as a student film.

    “”I think there is a stereotype that labels student films as bad, unprofessional and cheap,”” Dunlap said.

    Media arts senior Joe Odea had similar thoughts on student films. Odea said he tried to make a film that didn’t look or feel like the typical student project.

    Odea’s 16mm film, “”Welcome to Lyle’s Gas ‘N Go,”” is a story about a country service station and the attendant who works there and how he deals with a violent robbery. Odea wrote, directed and edited the film and composed the music for it.

    “”We get quite a bit of hands on experience in pretty much every aspect of filmmaking in media arts,”” Odea said.

    As his first participation in any film festival, Odea is excited just to see how his film will play out because he feels that having a paying audience gives his work a feeling of legitimacy.

    “”I’m hoping they don’t throw cabbage at me. As long as somebody enjoys it, that’s alright, especially somebody that’s paying,”” Odea said. “”If somebody that’s paying enjoys it, then I feel I’ve done my job.””

    For a taste of indie film, the Arizona International Film Festival is a safe bet. In fact, 20 percent of the films playing at the festival also played at Sundance, according to Scalinger. This year could attract 10,000 people or more, Scalinger said.

    “”As I tell everybody, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a variety of films,”” Scalinger said.

    The screenings are spread out all across town, from The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., to Gallagher Theater and also Grand Cinema Crossroads 6, 4811 E. Grant Road, and Grand Cinemas Oracle View, 4960 N. Oracle Road.

    The festival starts today and runs through April 30. For a complete schedule and times go to

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