As the 16th annual Phoenix Film Festival approaches, event director Jason Carney admits that his job can get a little stressful.
“Once January hits, it’s nonstop crazy until the festival comes,” Carney says. “I’m good for a couple of meltdowns. My wife, she usually talks me down and then it’s not so bad.”
The crunch time is just about over, as the Phoenix Film Festival hits the Harkins Scottsdale 101 14 from Thursday, April 7, through Thursday, April 14.
The Phoenix Film Festival annually screens more than 150 films, holds parties and provides filmmaking seminars to capacity audiences. Carney says he expects more than 23,000 attendees over the eight days.
“I think we have a really strong lineup this year,” he says. “We have really solid films through and through.”
To help film lovers navigate through the schedule, Carney offered a list of films to which he’s looking forward.
“Morris from America,” starring Markees Christmas and Craig Robinson, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7. “Craig Robinson is in a more serious role,” Carney says. “It’s a feel-good movie that won awards at Sundance. It’s about this kid who’s engrained in the hip-hop culture and DJing, then his family moves him to Germany. It’s a sweet film.”
“The Man Who Knew Infinity,” starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, 7 p.m. to 8:55 p.m. Friday, April 8. The movie tells the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a mathematical genius. “I’ve heard nothing but great things about that film.”
“Sing Street,” featuring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, April 10. “It comes from Tom Carney, who directed “Once.” It’s about an Irish kid in Dublin who sees a girl he likes and decides to get a rock band together. He doesn’t have any musical experience, but he does it to get the girl. It looks super charming.”
“Colin Hay: Waiting for My Real Life,” 6:25 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. Sunday, April 10, and 2:50 p.m. to 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, April 13. “It’s about the Men at Work singer and it shows his life in general. It’s a great story about how he rose to fame. When the bottom dropped out and there was a lawsuit, he plays a lot of clubs and small theater. He’s an amazing storyteller and so charming, this documentary’s great.”
“Five Nights in Maine,” starring David Oyelowo, Dianne Wiest and Rosie Perez, 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, April 14. “It has a really strong cast. It’s about a guy whose wife passes away and his mother-in-law invites him to Maine. It’s a very dramatic film. That’s our closing night movie.”
“We have more films than we ever played before,” Carney says. “It’s a busy week, that’s for sure. Once you come to the festival, you get hooked.”
Phoenix Film Festival, Harkins Scottsdale 101 14, 7000 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, phoenixfilmfestival.com, various times Thursday, April 7, through Thursday, April 14, $13-$300