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Friday Flicks: Peoria Film Festival

Written by M.V. Moorhead Category: Visual Arts Issue: October 2018
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The West Valley has always had plenty of film buffs, and now it has its very own high-profile festival.

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This weekend marks the inaugural edition of Peoria Film Festival, running Friday, October 19 through Sunday, October 21, all conveniently centered at one venue: Harkins Arrowhead 18. The event is a presentation of Phoenix Film Festival.

“As we were prepping for Phoenix Film Festival earlier this year, we were contacted by folks from the City of Peoria,” explains Executive Director Jason Carney. “They were trying to get some film activity going over there. After things had calmed down with Phoenix, we met with them in late June, and Peoria Film Festival was born.”

To make a festival happen in that timeframe was no leisurely project, Carney notes: “We put it together in three, three and a half months. So it was an accelerated process. We didn’t have time for the usual call for submissions and that sort of thing. So we went for a curated event, maybe stuff from the Phoenix Festival that we thought deserved another look. We wanted to bring it across town.”

The Fest kicks off Friday at 5:30 p.m. with a reception featuring goodies from local chefs and a performance by singer-songwriter Sophie Dorsten. The opening night feature, starting at 7:30 p.m., is Elizabeth Chomko’s drama What They Had, with Hillary Swank, Michael Shannon, Blythe Danner and Robert Forster.

Among the sixteen feature films are such intriguing selections as Transmilitary, Gabriel Silverman’s documentary about transgendered members of the U.S. military; Quaker Oaths, about the challenges of divorce in that religion; Maria by Callas; a chronicle of the opera singer’s life; and Justin Foia’s thriller Point Defiance, about a secret between two brothers. There are also programs of short films both Saturday and Sunday.

Carney says he’s particularly excited about the Closing Night selection, Shawn Snyder’s To Dust, starring Matthew Broderick (pictured). “It’s a dark comedy,” says Carney. “A very dark comedy. It won the audience award at Tribeca. You’ve got to stick with it for the first twenty minutes or so; people are afraid to laugh. In the end, it has a heart.”

A VIP pass for the Peoria Film Festival is $75; opening night tickets are $40; individual film tickets are $12. Go to peoriafilmfest.com for details.