Phoenix Comicon 2014 is a mere minutes away now, the film selections are final and ready to take the screen. There are a lot of great films to see this year at Phoenix Comicon. Several films have been tucked away in shoe boxes after not making it into the finals of a film challenge, while others are getting their second chance after screening to mixed reviews and going back to post-production to be retooled for another try. The selection of films is massive, inclusive and exceptional so it may be difficult to decide which films to see. Here are 5 of my favorites that I truly enjoy, and I think you will too.
1 – The Date – Gita Farid (Thursday Comedy block I. 4pm 227 ab)
You gotta love Gita, especially when she pours every resource at her disposal into making her lavishly elaborate indies. First screened at Filmbar back in December of 2013, “The Date” presented the stunning visuals, spectacular costuming and top notch performances we've all come to expect from this tireless AZ indie director. Michael Alvarez and Melissa Farley smoke and smolder in 1950’s Buenos Aires, exchanging sultry barbs surrounded by ballerinas and bad guys. The premiere of “The Date” had been highly anticipated, but when it did screen, the sound was totally whack and I was really bummed. Farid makes every assurance that all is good in the new neighborhood, and a second date is definitely in order. A film this lavish and dialog this lush certainly deserves a second look.
2 – Daydreams – Afshin Razi (Thursday Sci-fi block I. 8:30pm 227 ab)
This short, simple and stunning student film blew me away when it premiered at the PVCC student film festival back in December 2013. Using only dramatic lighting and a deeply moody soundtrack, ‘Daydreams’ speaks volumes on love unrequited, passion denied and scrupulosity gone awry. Comicon regulars Kenny Colt and Cody Loepke step in as producers, giving this sensational film just the raw realism and edgy innocence that only these young filmmakers can create. If you can’t make it to the screening at Comicon, fear not; “Daydreams” will be screening during the Arizona Forbidden Films at the Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival on Saturday June 14 at 3:50pm.
3 – Night of the Sea Monkey: A disturbing tale – Michael Rodriguez
(Friday Horror block II. 2:30 pm 227 ab)
First brought to my attention at the 2013 Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival, this dopey, goofy, silly and outrageous horror comedy has never left my mind. Not just a very well made and supremely entertaining short film, ‘Sea Monkey’ is an excellent example of the quality of original, independent filmmaking that can be accomplished right here in Arizona. The entire 80’s theme of the film, and the flawless homage to 80’s TV horror programming is stunning and inspiring. Each performance from this superb collection of local AZ favorites combined with famous Hollywood veterans will have you demanding an encore, or at least a signed copy of the DVD. Be inspired, be entertained and have fun watching this hilarious Arizona made horror flick.
4 - Betcha Berlinetta – Kimber Leigh (Friday Comedy block III 3:30 pm 227 ab)
When Kimber Leigh and pals joined forces in the early days of the A3F, they were unstoppable, consistently placing high in the top 20 and taking home a truckload of accolades. Created for the A3F 48 hour film challenge back in February of 2013, ‘Berlinetta’ didn’t quite make it into the top 20, taking home an honorable mention instead. But there was something fun and charming about this little film that demanded a second look, as two easygoing gals cruise around town in their Chevy Berlinetta; T-Tops off and blasting their favorite 80’s tunes on the cassette deck. Just a fun and freewheeling trip down memory lane with great photography and performances.
5 – Logan Must Make Star Wars-Nathan Blackwell (Saturday Fan Films/Superheroes block 5 pm 227 ab)
From the creative team that brings you the endlessly entertaining web-series “Voyage Trekkers,” this unintentionally intentional fan film was a favorite at the A3F 48 hour film challenge in February 2013, taking home Best Director, Best Story, and 1st Place Comedy in the A3F top 20. After being transported back in time, Logan accidently kills director George Lucas, and must now make Star Wars himself, strictly from memory. Easily a slam dunk for Comicon, this film is way more than that; a cheerful departure from the rigorous demands of creating a very high-end web series, and a nod from Squishy Studios to their die hard fans as they briefly return to their early AZ indie roots, when a group of friends got together for 48 hours just to bust out a short film that they would enjoy making, and everyone would enjoy watching.