Four-time Academy Award nominee Jane Alexander will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award during the nine-day 2018 Sedona International Film Festival in February and March
“Jane Alexander’s legacy of incredibly iconic films is, like the name of one of the films that earned her an Oscar nomination, a testament to her creative talents and commitment to the profession,” says Patrick Schweiss, the festival’s creative and development director.
“We are thrilled to present her with this award and very much look forward to having her engage with film fans from around the state and around the world.”
Tickets are on sale for the event that runs from Saturday, February 24, to Sunday, March 4.
Alexander, a former director of the National Endowment for the Arts, made her Broadway debut in 1968, winning the 1969 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play in The Great White Hope with James Earl Jones. She earned seven Tony Award nominations and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1994. An eight-time Emmy nominee, Alexander was first nominated for her role as Eleanor Roosevelt in Eleanor and Franklin in 1976, a role in which she aged from 18 to 60 years.
Diversity of films
During the festival, more than 150 films—full-length features, documentaries, shorts, foreign films and animated films—will be shown. Alexander will be on hand for question-and-answer sessions after screenings of three of her films—Testament, The Great White Hope and Kramer vs. Kramer.
“Each genre attracts its own crowds,” Schweiss says. “Most of our films sell out. You’d be amazed how quickly the shorts packages sell out, but we know that many people only come to see documentaries while others like to explore the diversity of what we have to offer.”
Three committees of eight to 10 people reviewed more than 1,000 films that were submitted for the 24th annual festival.
“Our screeners have a variety of backgrounds, which is very intentional,” Schweiss says. “We want people from all walks of life and all experiences and careers, because that is what our audience represents. We have business people, retired lawyers, housewives, administrative folks, younger people, students, former business owners and CEOs. You name it, we have it, because that is what best represents the audiences we serve. We even have some with film and/or acting backgrounds so that perspective is represented, too.”
Viewing and selecting independent and foreign films is different than experiencing Hollywood blockbusters, he adds.
“Still, the concept is the same,” Schweiss says. “A good film is a good film. We focus on selecting films that will make you think or make you feel something after you’ve seen them. We look for the inspiring and thought-provoking over the big-budget films.”
Schweiss has been with the festival for 14 years. He credits the founders with choosing a location where the community has embraced the event. He says volunteers help ensure that filmmakers have the best possible experience, that hotels donate more than 900 room nights, area restaurants provide lunch and dinner, and visitors are warmly welcomed. The same goes for the filmmakers.
“Filmmakers will tell you they’ve never been treated so well,” Schweiss says. “When you factor in Sedona’s breathtaking scenery and environment, it puts the wrapping on something very special. The filmmakers who hear about the experience in Sedona want to be part of it.”
Watching a film with like-minded people in the audience adds to the spirit of the festival adventure, according to Schweiss.
“The experience is heightened because you are surrounded by people who really appreciate and understand the independent film genre,” he says. “At the same time, having the opportunity to see a great documentary, short, foreign film or full-length feature and then to be able to ask questions of the filmmakers or actors in the film, it really creates a memorable experience.”
Schweiss acknowledges that watching a film in a theater is different than viewing it at home. But being in a theater has its own reward.
“The technology in today’s theaters is incredible and can really engage the audiences in what’s going on on the screen,” he says. “You also can’t get a screen as big at home.”
Mary D. Fisher Theater, 2030 W. Highway 89A; the Sedona Performing Arts Center at Sedona Red Rock High School, 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road; and Sedona Harkins 6, 2081 W. Highway 89A, Sedona, 928.282.1177, sedonafilmfestival.org, various times Saturday, February 24, to Sunday, March 4, tiered pricing.