By Alan Scherstuhl
By Stephanie Zacharek
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By Amy Nicholson
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By New Times
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Remember Keiko Ibi, the pretty Japanese woman who gave the touching acceptance speech after she won for Best Documentary Short at this year's Oscars? The chance to see her 37-minute winning film, The Personals, on a big screen comes up this weekend, when it's shown as part of the Saguaro Film Festival.
Now celebrating its sixth year, Arizona Film Society's shoestring fest kicks off Friday, April 30, with a reception for the filmmakers--and the public--from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Grotto at Arizona Center. "Art cars" will be on display in the vicinity, as will Steve Barker's Guinness Book-featured "Penny Suit." The screenings start at 7 p.m. Friday, and continue through Sunday, May 2, at AMC Arizona 24, Third Street and Van Buren.
The first night showcases several full-length features, among them the road comedy Midnight Mambo--an encore presentation from last year's fest; an Arizona work-in-progress called Final Rinse about "a cop, a killer, some bad acid and a whole lot of hair"; and Eight Days a Week, a teen romance starring Keri Russell of TV's Felicity that Roger Ebert has praised. In keeping with the Beatles theme implied by that last title, there's also a revival of Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night, with a newly restored negative and soundtrack.
Saturday kicks off with a filmmakers panel at 12:30 p.m.; and continues with screenings all day. The animated family feature Kiki's Delivery Service is slated for 1 p.m.; and A.J.'s Dogumentary, a 90-minute exploration of obsessed dog owners in L.A., is set for 7:15 p.m. But the emphasis for the day is a three-hour program of short films from around the country, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The Personals screens on this bill, as does Jill Chamberlain's nine-minute comedy The Tell-Tale Vibrator--a variation on Edgar Allan Poe in which the title implement haunts a single woman during a visit from her parents.
Sunday presents a showcase of several shorts by Arizona filmmakers--Reginald Spangler's The Last Words; Booking Nights by Alexandre Coscas; Mark Joseph Isham's The Cowboy and the Ballerina; and Jim Harsha's Bad Taste--at 5 p.m.; as well as reprises of several of the features from the previous two days.
The event's schedule tends toward a certain fluidity; for specific screening and event information, it's wise to call Arizona Film Society at 480-970-8711. Tickets for individual films are $5; various panel discussions cost $10; all-event passes are $35. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster 480-784-4444.
--M. V. Moorhead
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