The Phoenix Film Festival takes place from April 5-15, for tickets and more information visit Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Film Festival
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The Phoenix Film Festival Returns


Monte Yazzie
Movie Columnist

The 2018 Phoenix Film Festival is just a week away. Arizona’s largest film festival has expanded to 11 days, boasting over 300 movie screenings with parties, educational panels, industry mingling, and more opportunities to find your new favorite movie.

The Phoenix Film Festival prides itself on creating an environment for filmmakers to showcase their unique visions and voices, but also treating film fans to a special experience where they can watch a wide variety of films from numerous genres.

The Phoenix Film Festival has a wealth of independent films, but they also have films featuring some of the biggest talents in Hollywood. Charlize Theron (Tully), Jon Hamm (Beirut), Steve Buscemi (Lean on Pete), Ben Foster (Leave No Trace), Burt Reynolds (The Last Movie Star) and Armie Hammer (Final Portrait) are just a few of the actors starring in films at the festival.

The opening night film is “Lean on Pete,” it’s about a teenager who gets a summer job working with a fading racehorse. It’s a compassionate tale about friendship and companionship told with genuine honesty without over indulgent sentimentality.

Perhaps the highlight of the festival is the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” that passionately explores the life, lessons, and legacy crafted by children’s television host Fred Rogers. The documentary is a breath of fresh air for our current social climate.

The closing night film is the coming-of-age film “Eighth Grade” that focuses on a teenager trying to survive the final week of her eighth-grade year before leaving for high school. The film is directed by comedian Bo Burnham and has a star-making turn from young Elsie Fisher.

For those looking for something a little scarier, bizarre, or otherworldly, the Phoenix Film Festival runs concurrently with the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival. Moving into its 14th year, the Arizona genre festival mainstay boasts another stellar lineup of horror and science fiction films.

Some of the highlights are the punk-rock slasher movie mashup “The Ranger” from director Jenn Wexler, the 1980’s nostalgia driven serial killer thriller “Summer of 84”, and the documentary “To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story” about the man who played the iconic Jason Voorhies in the “Friday the 13th” films.

Get your popcorn and start filling out your schedule, the Phoenix Film Festival is April 5-15, and there is an option for every kind of movie fan.

Go to, see you at the movies!