The Sedona International Film Festival is rapidly approaching, and if you're as overwhelmed by the cinematic possibilities as we are, don't fret.
With about 150 films showing between February 22 and March 2, there are a lot of options to sift through, making it well worth the nearly two-hour drive up. Should you see The Joe Show, a film about everyone's favorite racist sheriff or go the less psychologically frustrating route and catch some of the shorts? Or you could hit up Mistaken for Strangers if you're trolling the fest for dudes -- because dudes love The National. Though the choice ultimately is yours and yours alone, we have some suggestions of six films you don't want to miss at the 20th annual event.
Orenthal: The Musical There's an impressive list of serious documentaries and intense dramas showing at the festival. Orenthal: The Musical is not one of them. The goofy mockumentary follows one man's quest to make a great musical starring him and his friends. The musical, inspired by his run-in with a white Bronco, is a re-imagining of Shakespeare's Othello centered on the O.J. Simpson trial. The satiric film stars Jordan Kenneth Kamp and Larisa Oleynik (Alex Mack, anyone?).
Screening: February 26 at 6:15 p.m. at Harkins Sedona 6 and March 1 at 9 p.m. at Mary D. Fisher Theatre
The Act of Killing Quite possibly one of the most unique experiences in the history of documentary filmmaking, The Act of Killing is a look into the mind of a genocidal gangster from Indonesia like never before. Anwar Congo, who was a death squad leader in the 1960s, takes to re-enacting his crimes for the documentary crew along with some of his cohorts. While some go through denial and others remorse, overall the odd interpretive dance numbers and graphic slaughter scenes are a truly haunting look into the minds of mass murderers.
Screening: February 26 at 9 p.m. at Harkins Sedona 6 and March 2 at 9 p.m. at Mary D. Fisher Theatre
I Am Divine If the prospect of watching a movie about the over-the-top drag queen Divine doesn't interest you, we don't know what more to say. Come on, John Waters is in it, and you get to watch oodles of scandalous and hilarious vintage Divine footage. It pretty much sells itself.
Screening: February 26 at 12:10 p.m. at Harkins Sedona 6 and February 28 at 6 p.m. at Mary D. Fisher Theatre
A Field in England Just when your movie cynicism has reached an all-time high, and you think you've seen everything there is to see in film, Ben Wheatley, who directed Sightseers, brings perhaps one of the oddest film premises to the table: A 17th-century 'shroom trip in A Field in England. While the movie goes from odd to sheer insanity in a matter of 90 minutes, you'll get to tell all your friends about the truly bizarre film you saw for years to come.
Screening: February 28 at 3:10 p.m. and March 1 at 6:15 p.m. at Harkins Sedona 6
The Curse of Styria Okay, we'll admit it -- it's hard for us to watch more than three or four non-horror movies before we need to get our fix of the spooky stuff. If you like your vampire movies with a touch of history, The Cuse of Styria is the movie for you. Add a dash of awkwardness from an estranged father played by Stephen Rea and a splash of great Eastern European locations and you have a recipe for a visually stimulating redux of Irish Gothic ghost story teller Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla.
Screening: February 24 at 9 p.m. and February 26 at 9:20 p.m. at Harkins Sedona 6
The Retrieval If you were at Phoenix Film Festival last year, you already may have had the opportunity to see Chris Eska's The Retrieval. We absolutely loved this gripping dramatic feature about a young boy and a man on assignment from a bounty hunter to capture a freed man and former slave, and we weren't the only ones. It won best ensemble in Phoenix, as well as awards from the SXSW film jury. Just make sure to bring tissues to this one because Tishuan Scott's performance is definitely a tearjerker.
Screening: February 25 at 9:10 a.m. and February 28 at 9 p.m. at Harkins Sedona 6
Honorable Mention: Check out Rusalka, the Slavic myth turned horror flick about a murderous mermaid demon out to exact revenge on the backwoods hicks who violently killed her.
The Sedona International Film Festival takes place February 22 through March 2. For tickets and the full schedule of showings and movies, visit the event's website.
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