Five Films We Can't Wait to See at the Phoenix Film Festival

Starring Frank Langella, Liv Tyler, and James Marsden, Robot & Frank premieres at the Phoenix Film Festival's Opening Night Gala, March 29.
Starring Frank Langella, Liv Tyler, and James Marsden, Robot & Frank premieres at the Phoenix Film Festival's Opening Night Gala, March 29.

The 12th Annual Phoenix Film Festival opens on Thursday, March 29 with more films, more seminars, and even bigger parties.

More than 160 films will be screened this year over the eight-day festival, from horror shorts to documentaries to star-studded feature films. Weekend seminars, with topics like "Life as an Indie Actor" and "Getting Big Talent on Low Budgets," will feature panels composed of the talent behind the festival's many films. The parties kick off with the Friday Night Bash and close out the weekend with the Copper Wing Awards on Sunday night. But it's the Saturday night party that you won't want to miss.

Whether you're a cute-animal-lover (Chimpanzee), a teen country fan (Country Queens), a cult-film devotee (read on), or you just want to see Larry the Cable Guy in a tutu (yep, Tooth Fairy 2), there's something for you. Here are five of the flicks we can't wait to see.

5. Robot & Frank

Five Films We Can't Wait to See at the Phoenix Film Festival

Rundown: This Sundance favorite is the feature film of the Opening Night Gala. Starring Frank Langella (who was beautifully played Nixon on stage and screen) as ex-jewel-thief Frank, Robot & Frank is an odd sort of buddy movie set in the near future. As Frank battles dementia, the robot (voiced by the serpentine eloquence that is Peter Sarsgaard) serves as his caretaker and companion.

Just as the power behind Google would gleefully point out (with their dreams of outsourcing brain functions to more advanced technology), the robot has an infinite capacity for memory, while human Frank forgets. The film also stars James Marsden and Liv Tyler as Frank's children.
Showtimes: 5 p.m. Thursday, March 29

4. FDR: American Badass


Forget that vampire-hunting pansy Abraham Lincoln: This ex-president is the real badass. While it may look like some YouTube savant's fake trailer, FDR: American Badass is, we swear, as real a creation as zombie-battling Bennets.

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Watch as FDR - stricken by werewolf-bite polio but killing it in a pimped-out wheelchair - takes down the original Axis of Evil. "Marco? Polio!"
Showtimes: 7:40 p.m. Friday, March 30; 9:20 p.m. Wednesday, April 4

3. Monster Brawl


This Canadian lullaby to horror fans (look out for beloved

Kids in the Hall

comedian Dave Foley) is an

instant cult classic

: All your favorite monsters - from the Mummy to Frankenstein to Zombie Man - battle it out in the ring like the craziest

Monday Night Raw

your addled brain could dream up. Our money is on Swamp Gut; he has the most to prove.


10:30 p.m. Friday, March 30; 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 31


2. With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story


Chances are you've heard of a man named Stan Lee, the great mind behind so many of the comic-book heroes we know and love. This documentary takes us back in history to Lee's early days and rise in the industry,

giving audiences an intimate look at the man behind the empire

- just as Lee himself gave us an unprecedented look at the human being behind so many masks.

The film includes interviews with a number of industry professionals and stars whose lives Lee's work impacted, from Seth Rogen to Nic Cage.
Showtimes: 2 p.m. Sunday, April 1

1. Bel Borba Aqui


Dubbed the "People's Picasso," Jorge Amado to Bel Borba is best recognized for his

mosaic artwork on the streets of Salvador, Brazil

: bright, colorful creations that pop against an empty background of neutrals. This documentary follows Bel Borba through his day-to-day creation of public artworks - from the speedy, collaborative mosaics to the longer projects in isolation.

Here, art is not just the work of a single master, but an act that invites participation for the joy of the whole community.
Showtimes: 10:55 a.m. Friday, March 30; 1:40 p.m. Saturday, March 31

The 12th Annual Phoenix Film Festival runs from March 29 through April 5 at Harkins Scottsdale 101. For more information or to purchase tickets (available for individual screenings or more inclusive passes), click here.

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