Days 245-250 – Sedona Film Fest

It’s the start of the Sedona International Film Festival and we have tickets to a bunch of different films, courtesy of our Christmas present from Lauren and Bobby. There’s nearly 200 films to choose from and we’ve got a mix of features and documentaries lined up.

Our first film is one I’ve chosen, about two French photographers who go around taking pictures of people and then printing them larger than life and pasting the photos on buildings. They just travel to little French towns, like a declining mining town, meeting interesting people, learning their stories, taking their photos and pasting these huge photos. We both enjoy “Faces Places” and later learn that it is up for an Academy Award in the documentary category (it didn’t win).

Our second film is one we’ve both chosen – we made our list by each reviewing the synopsis of the films and making a list of the films we wanted to see and checking against the schedule, many films only get shown once and they run about 6 films simultaneously so some films didn’t make the cut – about famed architect Bjarke Ingels. It’s not quite what we expected – a little more about his personal struggles than about his projects – but still interesting.

We have a bit of a break – we are starting with 3 films in one day – then head to the 40th anniversary showing of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” complete with star Richard Dreyfuss taking questions afterward. I’ve never seen the film but Walt has. I think the most interesting part of the film is how few people it took to make it. We just saw “The Black Panther” a couple of weeks ago and it took hundreds, if not a thousand, people, mostly in the digital effects fields, to make the movie. “Close Encounters” had maybe 100 people listed in the credits.

After the show, Richard Dreyfuss comes up to take questions. He says there’s no time limit, he’ll stay as long as there are questions. I’m expecting high-brow filmmaking type questions but this is Sedona, so the first few questions are about the movie’s depictions of the aliens. I’m already checking out and there are other people leaving but Walt’s hanging in. We do get to a few questions on the actor’s other film roles before someone asks him to “continue the discourse on civics” that he started during a talk after a previous film shown here.

Apparently the actor has started to push the idea that the nation needs to re-start teaching civics in public schools. He recites the preamble to the Constitution and then lectures for at least 15 minutes before we head out.

The next day we’re back for what I thought was a documentary about a disappearing tribe of people in the Himalayas but turns out to be a feature about the tribe. I had hoped for great mountain scenery but most of the film is shot at night, in cloudy weather, deep woods or a combination. There’s all sorts of violence and fighting and death. Definitely not a Liz film. There’s no director or actor from the film, so no Q&A.

We see a great feature about two guys who are chasing a rare blues album, a short feature about a Chinese mountain guide and his son, and an interesting documentary about the 2015-16 first round-the-world flight of a solar-powered airplane.

We think we are heading for a documentary about current actors who have been influenced by Charlie Chaplin and his films but the program is a little different than what we expected. It’s more of a talk by a guy who has studied Charlie Chaplin his whole career and taught Johnny Depp his incredible Chaplinesque moves in the movie Benny & Joon and taught Robert Downey Jr. how to be Chaplin in the 1992 movie about him. We do get to see an excerpt of a Chaplin film and a full short Chaplin film but then there’s a big discussion with the audience about what makes the film so great and enduring. It’s interesting but we’d have loved more Chaplin.

All in all, we’ve really enjoyed the film fest; we’ve seen a lot of movies we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

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