By Hans Pedersen, October 2016 Issue.
The 16th annual Scottsdale International Film Festival promises a showcase of buzz-worthy dramas, thrillers, romances, comedies and documentaries from around the world.
The five-day festival, which runs Oct. 6-10, opens with a screening of Denial at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. All subsequent screenings will be shown at Harkins Shea 14.
Amy Ettinger, the film expert who created the annual event, and her programmers have a knack for acquiring great movies ahead of their theatrical release.
“I think we’ve got a really strong slate this year,” Ettinger said of this year’s 38 selections, which she calls both current and timely, covering “any range of topics you might imagine.”
Audiences will remember The Girl King and Carol as last year’s standouts. Similarly, the 2016 roster includes several intriguing titles of LGBTQ interest.
Angry Indian Goddesses
Directed by Pan Nalin, Angry Indian Goddesses sounds like a tantalizing film that’s both provocative and visually inventive.
The story follows fashion photographer Freida (Sarah-Jane Dias), who invites all her friends to a family’s home in Goa to celebrate her upcoming nuptials. But these women, each of them facing their own particular challenges, all find a way to tap into their inner goddess, Kiva the destroyer.
To even divulge any LGBTQ content here, Ettinger warns, is a possible spoiler.
What we can tell you is that his award-winning movie, billed as India’s “first female buddy movie,” has been described as an empowering film for women around the globe.
Angry Indian Goddesses screens Oct. 8 at 12:10 p.m. and Oct. 9 at 4:30 p.m.
Another must-see title at this year’s festival focuses on a famous prop that’s captured the imagination of global audiences.
The Slippers is a documentary that chronicles how the movie memorabilia business exploded after the 1970 auction of a pair of red-sequined shoes worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. As if the magical footwear is truly cast by some type of spell, the movie shows how the shoes fall into the hands of several different people as duplicate sets, once used as back-up props, suddenly emerge.
Directed by Morgan White, the movie is not a story about the Oz phenomenon, rather, it’s really about how the subculture of movie memorabilia was launched (thanks, in part, to movie star Debbie Reynolds, who stored a treasure trove of items from the industry), the aura of original items and the question of authenticity.
What Ettinger said she found so amazing, and sad, and also of interest to our community is costumer Kent Warner, a subject in the documentary.
“He was practically dowager of the back lots of the studios … [The movie] is really about making an economy of those highly prized costumes.”
The Slippers screens Oct. 6 at 10:40 a.m. and Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Women Who Kill
You may also want to grab a ticket to Women Who Kill, an intriguing quasi-dark comedy that won screenwriting awards at both Outfest 2016 and this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Ingrid Jungermann, the writer and director of this light-hearted narrative feature, also stars in the movie as Morgan, a podcaster who studies female serial killers.
When Morgan meets a gal named Simone (Sheila Vand) at the co-op, she wonders if this stranger could be the perfect woman for her. Meanwhile, her ex-girlfriend Jean (Ann Carr) fears the new woman in her life could be a serial killer.
Playing on the fear of the unknown, and the unknowable past of a new stranger in one’s life, this sly lesbian-themed thriller, co-starring Annette O’Toole, is a fun addition to the festival line up.
Women Who Kill screens Oct. 8 at 7:25 p.m. and Oct. 9 at 7:45 p.m.
One of the biggest movies heading to Scottsdale this year is the opening-night selection Denial, The Weinstein Company movie about the heroic woman who battled an infamous denier of the Holocaust.
Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz stars in the feature that was written by David Hare (The Hours) and directed by Mick Jackson. It’s the true-life story of Deborah Lipstadt, the historian who stood up to anti-Semitism in a British libel suit and was forced to prove the occurrence of the Holocaust and the deaths of millions in a courtroom.
Following the film screening, Lipstadt, the real-life subject of the movie (on whose book the screenplay is based), will take part in a Q&A discussion via Skype. It’s just one of many festival offerings that Valley audiences.
From movies representing the world around us to tales exploring the “dreamier side of filmmaking,” Ettinger continues to curate the newest in world cinema for all Valley audiences.
For a complete list of titles, special guests, show times and ticket information, visit scottsdalefilmfestival.com.
Scottsdale International Film Festival
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (opening night)
7380 E. Second St.
Harkins Shea 14 (all other screenings)
7354 E. Shea Blvd.