Sedona Film Festival 201 There are a lot of traditions at the Sedona International Film Festival, and one of them is inviting Executive Director of the fest, Patrick Schweiss, to come speak to an Osher Lifelong Learning, (OLLI) Lunch and Learn. The tradition happened again this year at Patrick this Wednesday to give folks a sneak peek at what’s coming up at the fest. Funny and upbeat as always, Patrick teased the audience, who were mostly 65+, about getting out of work today to come hear him speak. Then he quickly quipped, “Yeah – 20 years ago!” giving all a good laugh. Patrick made a point to champion indie film and filmmakers in general, and shared which celebrities would be attending. Patrick also shared how film festivals can make a difference in unexpected ways. Last year SIFF screened “Waiting for Mamu” produced by Susan Sarandon. Sarandon has a goal to produce 10 films in five years that make a difference. “Waiting for Mamu” a documentary about Pushpa Basnet, was the first of those films. Basnet, (28 at the time the documentary was shot), is a women from Nepa and the “Mamu” of the film. In Nepal, if a parent goes to prison, the children usually go with them. There is no outside care for them. Pushpa has rescued more than 150 children from the floors of the prisons. She pays the rent on a house for the children, (called “The Butterfly House”), gives them food, clothes and education. In 2012 she was CNN’s Hero of the Year. After the film screened, one of the sponsors of the SIFF was moved by the story. David Neishabori, a Scottsdale-based philanthropist and owner of AZADI Fine Rugs, donated a year’s rent to Pushpa for The Butterfly House. Audience members were also moved by the film and, in the space of 24 hours, raised an additional $38,000 for The Butterfly House. According to Patrick, money for the project is still coming in. This year the film festival is screening 163 films from February 21st – March 1st. Though the festival will bring celebrities to the fest, Patrick stressed that the festival works to “celebrate independent film.” And, “If you make an indie film, you are bringing your art and vision to the screen.” If the film is not picked up for distribution, that filmmaker may lose all their money. He urged attendees to watch for the filmmakers badges, and, when they see them to thank them for being their and sharing their films. Some of the highlights this year, along with a fantastic roster of films, will be: Ed Asner will duplicate his appearance with famed director Mark Rydell at last year’s Prescott Film Festival with their two man paly, “Oxymorons.” Asner will also do his one-man show, “FDR” on February 22nd. There will be a retrospective of Richard Dreyfuss films, including The Goodbye Girl, American Graffiti and his favorite film, Mr. Holland’s Opus. Mr. Dreyfuss is scheduled to be at all the screenings for a Q&A. There will also be a retrospective of Orson Wells film, as this year would be his 100th birthday. Mr. Wells daughter, Ms. Beatrice Wells, will be at the screenings for Q&A’s. Ms. Wells is dedicated to attending, despite the fact that she is bedridden with hip problems. She is so determined to be there that she will have a hospital bed brought on stage so she can participate. Ms. Wells ahs hand-picked the films she wants to show because of their back stories. Among them are “Touch of Evil” “Othello” the way Mr. Wells wanted it done. Two documentaries will be shown on the subject of Mr. Wells and his films: “The Battle Over Citizen Kane” (followed later in the festival by a screening of “Citizen Kane” and “The Making of the Other Side of the Wind.” For this show, Pat McMahon is scheduled to attend also. Yes, for all you AZ natives, “that” wonderful Pat McMahon of “Wallace and Ladmo” fame. He is in the film. “The Other Side of the Wind” is the last film Mr. Wells ever did, and it has never been released. It is scheduled to complete post-production in time for this years Cannes Film Festival, where it will have it’s world premier, May 6th, 2015. That would have been the 100th birthday of Orson Wells. The full program and list of films is on their website at http://www.sedonafilmfestival.org/. Here's an interview with Patrick Schweiss from 2013.
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