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Sedona Film Festival
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After More Than Two Decades, The Premier Film Festival In The State Will Once Again Treat Locals And Hollywood-Types To Some Filmatic Gems

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By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine

Feb. 19, 2016 — The 22nd Annual Sedona International Film Festival is set to take place from Feb. 20 to 28, and this year’s event is packing in much more than just indie films and documentaries. Thanks to a special appearance by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Chicago, this year’s event has garnered extra attention and promises to be one of the most memorable festivals to hit the red rocks since the festival began.

“They have certainly put our festival on the map as far as the biggest opening we’ve ever had,” said Sedona International Film Festival Executive Director Patrick Schweiss.

Chicago is opening the festival with special concerts on Feb. 19 and 20. The band is attending the festival in conjunction with the world premiere of a documentary chronicling the band’s long run entitled Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago. The documentary will screen at noon on Feb. 20 at the Sedona Performing Arts Center.

“[Chicago’s] documentary is fantastic,” said Schweiss. “It covers the good, the bad and the ugly of 50 years of their time together. We love the guys, we love their film. It’s the most excitement this town has ever seen as far as a concert. It’s a big opening for us.”

The band has also brought additional attention to the rest of the festival’s entries.

“We have a lot of people really paying attention to our films seeing as we have such a big headliner kicking it off,” said Schweiss.

Of the 165 films that will show over the course of the festival, three are Oscar contenders. Stutterer, a dramatic short film from writer/director Benjamin Cleary, is nominated in the Best Short Film Live Action category.

Oscar-nominated foreign films Theeb (Jordan) and Mustang (France) will also be showing at the festival on Feb. 25 at 9 p.m. and Feb. 24 at noon, respectively.

“Our foreign film lineup is the best we’ve had in years,” Schweiss said. “There’s an amazing French film called In Harmony that’s not to be missed. We have two Oscar nominees in the lineup, Theeb and Mustang, both in the foreign film category.

Other films of note include The Student Body, directed by 14-year-old Bailey Weber, and The Pearl Button, winner of the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Berlin International Film Festival and Best Documentary at Jerusalem Film Festival and Philadelphia Film Festival. The Pearl Button will screen at 9:20 a.m. on Feb. 26.

“[The Student Body] is probably going to take some awards at our festival,” said Schweiss. “It’s a really powerful documentary made by a student and her father.”

The Student Body will screen on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at Mary D. Fisher Theatre.

The Sedona International Film Festival will also feature a special showing of American Graffiti and a cast reunion with Mackenzie Phillips, Cindy Williams, Beau Gentry and Candy Clark. That event will take place at 6 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the Sedona Performing Arts Center.

Celebrated actor Elliot Gould (MASH, Ocean’s Eleven) will receive the Sedona International Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in the Sedona Performing Arts Center. Gould will be interviewed by noted film critic and author Jeffrey Lyons, who also happens to be a long time friend of the actor.

“We’re very excited on a multitude of levels,” Schweiss said. “Not only is he an Oscar-nominated actor of course, but what we love about Elliot is he represents the heart and soul of independent film. He will take on big roles in the [Ocean’s 11] series and big blockbuster movies, but he will also in a lesser known film or with a new or lesser known filmmaker for the love of the craft and creativity, and that’s what independent films are all about. He really represents all that is good about acting and independent film.”

A full list of films, events and showtimes for the festival can be found at http://www.sedonafilmfestival.org/Page.asp?NavID=162 and individual tickets for some showings are still available at the Sedona International Film Festival ticketing site.
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