Phoenix Film Festival
Phoenix Film Festival

By Tuesday Mahrle

Calling all movie fans! The 18th annual Phoenix Film Festival returns from Thursday, April 5 to Sunday April 15th. Since its inception, the festival has exceeded attendance records every year. The 2017 Phoenix Film Festival saw over 25,000 attendees locally, nationally and internationally.  Staff and volunteers are hoping to again surpass that goal this year.

Opening night falls on Thursday, April 5 with a kickoff party at the Party Pavilion. Expect food from some of the best restaurants in town: Brat Haus, The Capital Grille, The Dhaba, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and Maggiano’s. Guests can also enjoy live music, in addition to a silent auction where they can bid on exclusive items. Opening night will also include the screening of “Lean on Pete, starring Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, and Charlie Plummer. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Andrew Haigh, the film has previously screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and at South by Southwest.

The Phoenix Film Festival is also premiering the widely anticipated films “Tully” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” “Tully” was written by Diablo Cody (“Juno”) and recently screened at the Sundance Film Festival. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is the up-and-coming documentary that explores the life, lessons and legacy of iconic children’s television host, Fred Rogers. The trailer was released on March 20, what would have been Fred Rogers’ 90th birthday.

On Saturday, April 7th, the festival will offer a familyfriendly Kid’s Day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests can select from a series of hands-on activity stations focusing on different aspects of film production and geared toward various age and ability levels. Stations are age-appropriate and run the full gamut of the filmmaking process. In addition, the Phoenix Film Festival Kids’ Day offers a $5 screening of “Space Jam” showing at 1 p.m.

The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival will also be included within the Phoenix Film Festival and will feature competition films, short films, parties, filmmaking panels and more. For tickets and a film lineup, visit The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival website

For closing night, the Phoenix Film Festival will be screening “Eighth Grade,” which was recently featured as part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition section of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and is currently 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. “Eighth Grade” stars Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan and is written and directed by Bo Burnham.

Tickets range in price from $13 for a single screening to $300 for a platinum pass. For more information, call 602-955-6444 or visit The week-long festival will once again be held at Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatre located at 7000 E. Mayo Blvd. Phoenix, AZ 85054.