The Peoria Film Fest is returning for its fourth year. This year’s lineup includes the documentary The Return of Tanya Tucker, the romantic-comedy Four Samosas, the eye-opening Bad Axe, and more. Flickreel spoke to festival director Jason Carney about the films playing, the community, and other reasons to be excited!
Q: 2022 marks the Peoria Film Fest’s fourth year. How do you think that this year stands out?
JC: You know, I think we’re heading in a really good direction. Having to skip 2020 really killed a lot of momentum that we built the first couple of years, you know? We’re really on a good path and then… boom! Like we had to cancel in 2020, and last year we kind of put together a version just to make sure we get things back on track a little bit. So, I think it’ll be a really pivotal year for the event. And we’re still lining up films and we’re just happy to get it back, and running at full speed, hopefully.
Q: The Opening Night film is The Same Storm, a dramatic ensemble piece starring Sandra Oh, Moses Ingram, and Mary-Louise Parker. In addition to that film, what else do you have planned for Opening Night?
JC: We’ll do a cocktail reception over at Abuelo’s, which is just across the parking lot from the theater. There so have a nice little, some drinks and appetizers, and things like that.
Q: What other movies are you looking forward to the most?
JC: We have one big film that we’re showing on 3 different screens. It’s called Life in Synchro. It’s a documentary about synchronized ice skating and really about women and leadership and women empowerment. And we’re working with the Women’s Conference in Peoria that’s happening that day. And then they’re gonna attend that film that night. So, it’s a really nice way, to kind of transition from opening.
IFP Phoenix, which is our education and filmmaking arm of the organization, they have a 240 to Glory Film Challenge where they had 17 teams kick-off and they were given a prop and a line of dialogue they had to use. So, they had these 10 days to make this short film, and they all turned them in just this past weekend. We’ll show all of those films, and they’ll have their own award ceremony and everything. That’s on Saturday night
We have a kind of heavy drama called Love Gets a Room which is about a Jewish stage actress during 1942 Poland, and she kinda has to make the decision of following her heart and the man she loves or escaping to Warsaw to avoid the Nazis.
We have a really interesting film made by a high school student. It’s an animated feature. It’s called Under Pressure: The Animated Musical. A high schooler from Tempe made this film during COVID. She made it with her friends, and they put together this feature film, and it’s about friends that are separating… It’s an interesting tale, and really well told, and to see an animated feature come from a kid in high school is really cool.
Q: The event is taking place at Harkins Arrowhead Fountains 18, which was recently renovated. I feel like Harkins in general have really stepped up their game as of late, and they were always a great chain. How do you think Fountains 18 stands out?
JC: Their renovation makes a big deal. Harkins always wants to be giving their audiences the best of everything. They want to have a comfortable environment. They have great snacks and their projection equipment and their technical delivery is better than anybody.
We have filmmakers come to our festival and say that they’ve never seen their film better. That includes the video presentation, the audio presentation, the whole thing. And so, we’re really proud of the fact that we give filmmakers the chance to be on the big screen and have good quality projection. It seems like the most basic of things, but there’s so many theater chains that don’t do it right or there’s film festivals that are operating in conference rooms or things like that. And so, they’re not like in a real theatrical environment. Being in a theater is the first step, but having a theater chain that really cares about the presentation of what the films look like is a big deal, and we’re lucky… The popcorn is definitely not as good somewhere else.
Q: You work on Peoria Film Fest and Phoenix Film Festival, which are both under the same umbrella. Aside from different theaters, how do you think these two events stand out from one another?
JC: The Phoenix Film Festival is really a big national, regional event. I think the Peoria will be more of a community-centric event… We definitely wanna support the neighborhood through this event. The city of Peoria, they don’t have an art film event currently other than us and so we think that’s a big responsibility, and really engaging the community, by giving them an opportunity to see films they won’t otherwise see. And we give great discounts to the city of Peoria residents.
Peoria Film Fest runs from October 13-16 at Harkins Arrowhead 18. Tickets are on sale here.