“Pahokee” tells the story of an isolated rural Florida town where four teens experience the joys and heartbreaks of their last year in high school.

By Laura Latzko

With the cancellation of major events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local organizations have sought to find different ways to entertain the public.

After postponing its annual spring film festival, the Phoenix Film Foundation expanded its offerings through at-home movies. These independent films are available for rental for $9.99 to $12.

A portion of proceeds from ticket sales goes toward the foundation. The nonprofit plans to reschedule the festival for later this year, and money raised will help with costs such as printing new posters and programs.

“These are films that we have worked with distributors on to secure and screen, and we are really excited to have opportunities for folks to see some films,” says Jason Carney, Phoenix Film Festival executive director.

Through IFP Phoenix, a program dedicated to fostering the growth of independent filmmakers, the foundation has been offering virtual Q&A sessions with filmmakers and screenings of older movies from its film challenges.

The organization also participated in a virtual movie screening and Q&A offered through the Film Festival Alliance. This is the first time the organization has made films available for home viewing.

“Some of these distributors hadn’t really done it this way either, so it’s new for all of us,” Carney says.

The home movie series offers a range of films from different countries and genres.

“We tried to look at it from the perspective of building the festival, where we wanted to choose really good films, but we also wanted a variety. Nobody wants to see the same film or the same idea,” Carney says.

In preparation for this program, Carney previewed the films. Usually for the film festival, a committee of 75 people and 12 program directors chooses content. Carney says the at-home series allows movie fans, such as himself, the chance to watch new films.

“It’s nice to be able to discover films. I’ve been doing it myself,” Carney says.


Films available for viewing

• “Corpus Christi,” a Polish film by Jan Komasa, follows a man who after spending 20 years in prison finds his calling and seeks to enter the clergy. This is more difficult than he expects because of his criminal background. When he arrives in a new town and is mistaken for the priest, he takes on the role despite his lack of training, both inspiring and causing suspicion in members of the congregation.

• “L’Innocente,” an Italian film by Luchino Visconti, is an adaptation of a novel by Gabriele d’Annunzio. It tells the story of a 19th century aristocrat who favors his mistress over his wife until his betrothed has an affair of her own. This causes his interest in her to reawaken.

• “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band,” a movie by Daniel Roher, gives a glimpse into the life, music and brotherhood of Robbie Robertson and other members of The Band, a Canadian group that backed Bob Dylan.

• “The Booksellers,” a documentary by D.W. Young, looks at the lives, work and personalities of antiquarian booksellers and their role in the preservation of not just rare books but history as well.

• “The Times of Bill Cunningham,” a documentary by Mark Bozek, gives a behind-the-scenes look into the life and work of Bill Cunningham, a photographer for The New York Times.

• “The Whistlers,” a film by Corneliu Porumboiu in Romanian, English and Spanish, tells the story of a corrupt police officer who is trying to pull off a heist with a stunning female partner.

• “Pahokee,” in an isolated rural Florida town, four teens experience the joys and heartbreaks of their last year in high school.

• “Zombi Child,” a French, Haitian and English movie by filmmaker Bertrand Bonello, tells the story of a Haitian man who is brought back to life to work in the sugarcane fields. More than 50 years later, a teenager in Paris must face a family secret tied into this resurrection.