The West Valley is taking centerstage this month as The Phoenix Film Foundation hosts the inaugural Peoria Film Festival at the renovated Harkins Arrowhead Fountains 18.
“We couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved over the last 18 years with the Phoenix Film Festival and our year-round film education and screening events.” says Phoenix Film Foundation executive director Jason Carney. “We’ve been looking to host an event in the North Valley and Peoria made the most sense. The growth of the city of the Peoria combined with the gorgeous Harkins Arrowhead Fountains 18 gives us a great backdrop to showcase some amazing new films.”
Set for October 19 to October 21, the festival was created to bring an independent film scene to the West Valley. Carney says it was time for this.
“We’re trying to introduce the great vibe of the Phoenix Film festival, and at the same time show off Peoria,” Carney says. “It’s going to be a great time. There aren’t not many independent film events (in the Peoria area). Those filmmakers who live there can now have something in their own backyard to shoot for.”
Only the first round of films was announced by press time:
- White Tide: The Legend of Culebra, a cocaine treasure hunt documentary from the Tribeca Film Festival.
- Number 37, a Hitchcock-esque thriller.
Carney says they are going to show a selection of the best from the recent Phoenix Film Festival, along with new ones from local filmmakers. There will be a mix of shorts and full-length films from a variety of genres.
“We’re going to have a really nice wide selection of films,” Carney says. “But you can’t have a good independent film without a good story.”
The Peoria Film Festival is about more than watching films. There will be a variety of events outside the theater to enhance the experience. Among these events is an opening night cocktail party, and an industry night on Saturday night.
The festival’s partner is the city of Peoria, whose officials worked extensively to ensure the event can reach its maximum potential.
“The City of Peoria is thrilled to host the Film Foundation’s October film festival,” says Mayor Cathy Carlat.
“Peoria is an exceptional community, and with the nationally ranked Huntington University Arizona Center for Digital Media Art in our lively P83 district, our community is the perfect backdrop for this iconic festival. We look forward to welcoming the talented film and production companies who make this event successful, and the many cinematic enthusiasts to the heart of the North Valley.”
Peoria’s communications director, Jenn Stein, says this festival is going to be the next step in the city’s wish to expand its prominent arts scene.
“We’ve been focusing for a while on the film and arts side of the house,” Steins says. “We are in the production of creating a film office, and our economic development department wanted to also play a sponsorship role in the film fest to bring all these departments together.”
Huntington College for Digital Media Arts, whose largest major on campus is film, is next to the Harkins. The school has heavy involvement with the festival. Huntington College’s director of Arizona operations, Jeff Berggren, says attendees should expect to see the best of its student body.
“Our students’ works will be at the festival, and we also will have student volunteers,” Berggren says. “We’ll be opening our facilities for tours and most likely be hosting some component of the festival.”
The Peoria Film Festival will bring long overdue exposure to the city, as it has been working on expanding its reach.
“We’ve been focusing for a while on the film and arts side of the house,” Stein says. “We’re going to give people the opportunity to have a great time at the Peoria Film Festival.”
Peoria Film Festival, Harkins Arrowhead Fountain 18, 16046 N Arrowhead Fountains Center Drive, Peoria, 480.513.3195, peoriafilmfest.com, 6 p.m. Friday, October 19, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, October 20, and 10:30 a.m. Sunday, October 21, $13-$75.