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Sedona Film Festival lines up 150 films for exclusive February event

Photo of a film at the Sedona Film Festival
John Leguizamo Live at Rikers. (File Photos/
Sedona Film Festival brings joy of cinema from around the world
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

The 29th annual Sedona International Film Festival will feature more than 150 films from around the globe and across a range of categories — from full-length features, documentaries and shorts to foreign and animated films — from Feb. 18-26 on screens throughout Sedona.

Festival passes as well as ticket packages are on sale HERE.

Passholders will be able to select their films on Jan. 30. Ten-and-20 ticket-package holders can choose films on Feb. 6 and single tickets will be on sale beginning Feb. 13, according to a press release.

The festival’s opening night on Feb. 18 will highlight the works of two-time Oscar nominated Swedish director Lasse Hallström, who first became known for directing almost all of ABBA’s music videos before dedicating his directorial skills to films. He received Academy Award nominations for Best Director for “My Life as a Dog” and “Cider House Rules.”

His newest film, “Hilma,” explores the enigmatic life of Swedish artist and mystic Hilma af Klint, now recognized as one of the world’s first abstract artists. The film stars Hallström’s daughter, Tora, and his wife, Oscar nominee Lena Olin.

During the week, Jacqueline Bisset will receive a Sedona International Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. Her most-recent film, “Loren & Rose,” is the story of an indelible bond forged between a promising young filmmaker and an iconic actress. The festival also will screen Ms. Bisset’s personal favorite film, “Sleepy Time Gal,” the story of a young woman (Martha Plimpton) who learns of her adoption and eventually quits her law firm in New York City to find her birth mother (Bisset).

Surrounding those events, “we’ll have an incredible diversity of incredible films chosen by our selection committees from more than 1,300 that were up for consideration,” said Executive Director Pat Schweiss.

Among the special events is the screening of a new documentary, “Karen Carpenter: Starving for Perfection,” which celebrates the life and music of the 1970s pop artist. The festival is one of only three able to show the film, which will debut Feb. 10 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Ms. Carpenter was among the first to suffer from the eating disorder anorexia when the vastly misunderstood phenomenon brought shame and public humiliation.

Screenwriter Randy Schmidt, who wrote the 2010 national bestseller “Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter,” is expected to be on hand.

Karen Carpenter

Sedona Film Festival brings joy of cinema from around the world

  • “Silent Life: The Story of the Lady in Black.” Starring Terry Moore, who is believed to be the oldest actor in a starring role at 94, and Isabella Rossellini, it is a drama about the mysterious Lady in Black who claims to be the last love of the first screen sex symbol Rudolph Valentino.
  • “Stage of Twilight.” Starring Karen Allen, who will be in Sedona for the screening, about a retired couple enjoying life in their 70s when Barry is diagnosed with a terminal heart disease. His decision to rent a trailer home in the middle of the woods where he can die in piece proves a dispiriting struggle for Cora, who is driven to make a critical decision for them both.
  • Róise & Frank.” A drama from Ireland called “a genuinely delightful film” by The Irish Times about a widow who has given up on life who becomes convinced that a stray dog is the reincarnation of her hurling-loving husband.
  • Remember This.” Starring Oscar-nominated David Strathairn (“Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Lincoln”) who portrays Jan Karski in a genre-defying true story of a reluctant World War II hero and Holocaust witness.
  • Condition of Return.” The newest film by former Sedona resident, now living in Scottsdale, Tommy Stovall, about a churchgoing woman making a heinous deal with the devil to save her soul. Stars Dean Cain (“Lois & Clark: New Adventures of Superman”) and AnnaLynne McCord (“Nip/Tuck”) will be on hand. The film was shot at a number of Arizona locations.
  • Ibiza Blue.” A Spanish film about couples cooped up in Covid isolation whose stories intertwine while on vacation and getting out with Covid blues.
  • “Something in the Clouds.” A short film by 2022 Sedona International Film Festival screenplay competition winner Johnny McClain.
  • “The Third Defector.” A short film by John Gray, who is returning to the festival after winning best short film awards at two of the last three festivals, finds a simple assignment for a spy to keep tabs on an Iranian defector turning into a more complicated game of cat and mouse in the streets of Paris.

For this year’s documentaries, committee co-lead Jerry Hartleben, a former Hollywood cinematographer, director and actor, said the team of nine screeners including co-lead Antigoni Axenidou, a former legal officer in the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, culled through nearly 450 films.

“In putting together the final selections, it’s similar to an art gallery or museum curating works,” he said. “We try to have a mix of films that complement each other so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. ”Mainly, we look for storytelling films that deal with social issues, historical issues and political issues, all with an emphasis on creative non-fiction storytelling.”

He explained that each year, “we tend to find a certain theme that runs through the different subject matters.” This year, “one the most important themes that jumped out was not simply equal rights for women, but women reveling in their power and taking their power.”

Sedona Film Festival offers documentaries amid cinema offerings

• “Ranger.” Produced and shot in Kenya, this rite of passage and self-discovery follows 12 of Kenya’s Maasai women as they become East Africa’s first all-female anti-poaching unit, upending the male-dominated reliance. Director Austin James Peck will be in Sedona.
• “When My Sleeping Dragon Woke.” Veteran actor Sharon Washington commits to writing a play about her fairytale childhood living in a New York public library. But there’s an unforeseen cost – waking the family dragon she thought she’d silenced decades ago.
• “Patrick and the Whale.” Using stunning underwater footage, Patrick Dykstra, a biologist with a background on Wall Street, explores the fascinating nature of the sperm whale, attempting to shine a light on its intelligence and complexity as well as highlighting its current and past relationship with humankind.
“Unveiled: Joyce Tenneson and the Heroine’s Journey.” An intimate journey with one of history’s most influential photographers that also explores her persistent advocacy for, and support of, women in the arts and in broader society. World premiere.

Films will be screened at the festival-owned 99-seat Mary D. Fisher Theatre and the brand new 43-seat Alice Gill-Sheldon Theatre, which opened in mid-June, at 2030 W State Route 89A, the two largest theaters at the Harkins Theaters Sedona 6 at 2081 W. State Route 89A and at the Sedona Performing Arts Center (SPAC), 995 Upper Red Rock Loop.

Festival memberships are available with privileges including advance e-mail alerts and announcements for all SIFF film and events, discounts on tickets to films and special events and pre-sale Film Festival discounts. Membership levels range from $75 to $50,000.

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