Phoenix Film Festival

The Phoenix Film Festival kicks off with a $125-per-person gala, where Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill will attend the premiere screening of a film he produced, “Starting at the Finish Line: the Coach Buehler Story.”


It’s marathon time, movie lovers.

The hours of keeping eyeballs glued to screens, popcorn buckets full and restroom runs strategically timed between “the good parts” begin in earnest this week, when the Phoenix Film Festival opens at Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theaters in Phoenix.

The celebrity-studded event will screen more than 150 films — from dramas, documentaries and sci-fi movies to comedies and animated shorts — and the screenings are open to the public. Ten pictures will compete for honors in the festival’s Copper Wing Awards contest.

The festival kicks off with a $125-per-person gala, where Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill will attend the premiere screening of a film he produced, “Starting at the Finish Line: the Coach Buehler Story.”

From there, movies will begin playing at 9 a.m. Friday and run through April 7. Tickets to individual movies are $10 per person. Passes, which let you into multiple movies and festival parties and events, are $24-$350.

Among the highlights:

• The Friday Night Bash features live entertainment and filmmakers.

• Phil Rosenthal, creator of the TV series “Everybody Loves Raymond,” attends a screening of his film about trying to translate “Raymond” into a Russian sitcom and does a Q&A session with the audience at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

• Kids’ Day, held 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, features free, hands-on filmmaking stations for children ages 5-12. In addition, the whole family can see “The Muppet Movie” (9:15 a.m.), “White Lion” (11 a.m.) and DisneyNature’s “African Cats” (2:10 p.m.) for $5.

• Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. will take part in “A Conversation with Cuba Gooding Jr.” at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The event includes a short retrospective of his work followed by a hosted discussion and a Q&A with the audience. 

• Actor and director Peter Weller, of “Robocop” and “Dexter” fame, will take part in a hosted discussion and audience Q&A session at 7 p.m. Saturday.

• The Saturday Night Party features live bands.

• The April 3 Sunday Night Awards Party features the announcement of Copper Wing Award winners.

• An April 3 “Acting for the Camera” workshop is for middle- and high-school students.

• An April 7 “Producing and Directing” workshop is for middle- and high-school students.

• The April 7 Closing Night Event features a final screening with celebrity filmmakers and a “Calling it a Wrap” party.

For a full schedule of events and synopsis of each film, go to

Films competing in the festival for Copper Wing Awards

“A Little Help”

A dramatic comedy starring Jenna Fischer, Chris O’Donnell and Lesley Ann Warren about a woman who gets entangled in lies in order to take care of herself and her son.

“Wild Horse, Wild Ride”

A documentary about the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge, an annual contest that dares 100 people to tame a wild mustang so it can be adopted.


A wealthy Manhattan family’s inability to cope with a daughter’s suicide sends them into a spiral of drugs, alcohol and sexual taboos that threatens to destroy them.

“The Dead Inside”

A horror musical about a burned-out photographer and the author of zombie novellas who have misplaced their muse.

“Falling Overnight”

A look at a 22-year-old’s unexpected experiences a day before surgery to remove his brain tumor.


An aging ex-mobster dying of lung cancer unknowingly puts a college student’s life in jeopardy when they begin meeting in public.

“Stranger Things”

The Grand Jury Prize-winner at the 2011 Slamdance Film Festival about a young woman dealing with the loss of her mother.

“The Lake Effect”

A dramedy about a man whose midlife crisis is interrupted by the appearance of his estranged and pregnant 18-year-old daughter.

“Crime after Crime”

A documentary about the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler, a woman imprisoned for over a quarter-century due to her connection to the murder of the man who abused her.


A documentary about high school theater troupes as they audition, rehearse and compete in the largest high school theater festival in the world.

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