January and February tend to be the doldrums of the moviegoing year, full of titles that the studios want to unload with a quick release before blockbuster season, and don’t care if they’re forgotten by awards season. One remedy for this drought is to catch up on the high-profile stuff from last year you may have missed; FilmBar, for instance, is showing Bong Joon Ho’s horrifying, hilarious, wildly original surprise Best Picture winner Parasite, the Safdie Brothers/Adam Sandler snub victim Uncut Gems, and Greta Gerwig’s Little Women this coming week.
Another, more picturesque remedy is to head north for…
Sedona Film Festival—…this 26th annual edition of the Red Rock Country fest. More than 170 films, including fiction and documentary features — three of them Oscar-nominated — and shorts both live-action and animated, are offered between February 22 and March 1 at the Mary D. Fisher Theater, Harkins Sedona 6 and the Sedona Performing Arts Center at Sedona Red Rock High School. A variety of celebrities will be there as well.
Among these, probably the biggest name is Rob Reiner, actor turned director of favorites like When Harry Met Sally, A Few Good Men and The Princess Bride, who will receive the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award at 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 29, along with a showing of one of his most enjoyable films, 1995’s The American President. Another guest is actress Lainie Kazan, slated to appear on opening day at 10 a.m. to present the family film Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog.
The schedule includes a number of particularly strong nonfiction films that are worth catching up to if you missed their runs here in the Valley. Two especially notable examples are Luke Lorenzen’s jaw-dropping Midnight Family, about the private ambulance service in Mexico City, and Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s One Child Nation, about the aftermath of China’s one-child policy.
Individual tickets start at $15; Festival memberships start at $75; for details go to sedonafilmfestival.com.
At 5:30 p.m. on February 26 and 27, Sky Rock Inn of Sedona offers two “Meet the Filmmakers” workshops, with a chance for festivalgoers to hobnob with some of the attending cineastes. The February 26 theme is “Filmmaker Roundtable: The Future of Film”; February 27 is “Art into Activism: Movies into Movements,” with Greenpeace activist John Hocevar, in town to present the Antarctica documentary Sanctuary. For details on these workshops, and on discounts available for festivalgoers, go to skyrocksedona.com or call 928-282-3072.