Here in the Valley, the early months of the year – post holiday but still temperate – constitute the film festival season.
Feb. 10-27 is the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, all-virtual once again this year. This is followed by the Phoenix Film Festival March 31 to April 10.
But leading the pack is the Chandler International Film Festival, running through Jan. 23 at LOOK Dine-In Cinema at 1 W. Chandler Blvd. downtown.
The sixth-annual edition, which claims to be “The Fastest Growing International Film Festival,” will offer more than 120 films from six continents. Presumably only Antarctica isn’t on the schedule.
Ancillary red-carpet event, award ceremonies, filmmaker interactions, panels and parties also are planned.
Among highlights this year are Marcella Cytrynovicz’s psychological drama American Cherry; Rich Ragsdale’s cult-theme thriller The Long Night, with veteran character actor Jeff Fahey; and the romantic tale Second Chances, from Arizona director and cowriter Rick Walker.
The Canadian director Phillipe McKie’s dance drama Dreams on Fire, shot in Japan, is another notable selection. Just a bit late for the holidays, the Arizona-filmed Christmas story Hashtag Blessed: The Movie is also on the schedule.
Each of these films and many more will be making their Arizona premiere in Chandler.
Celebrity appearances scheduled include leading lady Sean Young, familiar from such Hollywood hits as Stripes, Blade Runner, No Way Out and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and actor and Flagstaff native Bubba Ganter, veteran of TV’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and Nickelodeon’s “Sam and Cat.”
Also scheduled to appear is actor Pat Finn. Don’t recognize the name? You almost certainly will recognize the face: Finn plays “Pat,” the suburban guy with the unhealthy fixation with Toyotas, in the long-running series of TV commercials. He’s also appeared in TV shows that include “Murphy Brown” and “Friends” and movies Dude, Where’s My Car?, and It’s Complicated. His recent film, Funny Thing About Love, was shot here in Arizona.
The celebrities will walk the red carpet on opening night and hang out for a question-and-answer session. Finn will host an improv workshop. A documentary exploring the Toyota commercials by filmmaker Jordan Brady will be shown.
With its diverse selection of films, meet-and-greet opportunities with industry professionals and plenty of partying, the Chandler International Film Festival has something for everybody.
Festival single-show tickets are $10-$15; day pass is $50; full-festival pass $220. At-home streaming options are available: full online pass is $100 and single-shows $8-$10.
Go to chandlerfilmfestival.com for details.