Dante got it wrong: There are actually 10 circles of hell, and local filmmaker Nicholas Holthaus has been there and back making Dante's Arizona, which premières Saturday, July 16, at the Alwun House, 1204 East Roosevelt. "Four people have died during the making of this film, including my mother and a good friend," says Holthaus, 34. "And I recruited too many flakes -- dozens of them -- to help out. It would have been done three years ago, but this is Arizona."
And it's a film almost as much about the Grand Canyon State -- and its music scene -- as it is a "crime drama" and "dark comedy," Holthaus says. The southern Illinois transplant, who's been in the Valley for 15 years now, pays homage to old-school Tempe rock bands like Dead Hot Workshop and the Gin Blossoms -- and to the scene they created back in the late 1980s and early '90s -- by including the aforementioned (as well as Gloritone, Hans Olson, and Flathead) on the film's soundtrack, and by filming about half of the movie at institutions such as Long Wong's, Nita's Hideaway and Casey Moore's.
"It was when we first started filming about five years ago that you really started to see Mill Avenue get incorporated," Holthaus says. "I realized these places weren't going to be around much longer, so they're very prominent in the film."
Family film at PAM
If you're University of Arizona film professor and much-applauded filmmaker Yuri Makino, you don't lightly embark upon a journey to see your father after a 15-year separation; you take along your sister and a camera and make a powerful, experimental documentary about it, call it Tokyo Equinox, and let the rave reviews follow. Makino screens the film, along with two others -- Umeboshi (Pickled Plums)and Llama Walks -- at the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, on Sunday, July 17. All three films explore the various depths of familial relationships, as well as Japanese issues. The event begins at 2 p.m. Admission is free. Call 602-257-1222. Visit www.phxart.org. -- Amy Young
Change of Art
New works in Herberger gallery
Marathon gallery-walking -- low on the summer fun list? Narrow things down with a sampler of Arizona artists in "Light & Shadow," at the Herberger Theater Center's Steele Pavilion gallery. Scope paintings, photography, collages and more from Ann Bannard, Brad Konick, and others, including new welded-metal sculptures by Joan Waters. The variety of both abstract and representative work illustrates the show's theme, which explores the use of contrast to define space and volume. The opening reception takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 15, at the Herberger, 222 East Monroe. The art's for sale until October 3. Proceeds benefit the theater. Call 602-254-7399, extension 105. -- Julie Peterson
Our dance hall (Tues)days
A lot of people categorize certain music as "reggae," when, in fact, reggae's got almost as many subgenres as "rock." One of reggae's sonic spin-offs, dance hall (born around 1979), sounds little like its aural ancestor, with its dub-style effects, synthesizers, hip-hop influences and funky bass lines. But fret not: On Tuesday, July 19, DJ J-Cut will spin us in the right direction, with "Dance Hall Tuesdays" at the Hidden House, 607 West Osborn. With stacks of wax from artists such as Barrington Levy, Buju Banton, Eek-A-Mouse, Yellowman, and Shabba Ranks, J-Cut should serve up prime kind grooves. The free jammin' starts at 9 p.m. Call 602-266-1763. -- Niki D'Andrea