^
Keep New Times Free
4

Indie Film Fest in Phoenix Highlights Local Stories — And Creates Community

Pita Juarez gives a shoutout to locals featured in You Racist, Sexist, Bigot during a Phoenix screening.EXPAND
Pita Juarez gives a shoutout to locals featured in You Racist, Sexist, Bigot during a Phoenix screening.
Lynn Trimble

After filmmaker Pita Juarez met La Morena through mutual friends, she grew curious about her work. The artist has been making murals with social justice themes in recent years, and Juarez was intrigued by the way she paired art with activism.

Now, Juarez is making the final edits for a short documentary film called La Morena, which is part of the lineup for this year’s Indie Film Fest.

The three-minute film focuses on La Morena’s most recent project. Last summer, the artist began work on a large-scale mural near the Arizona Capitol, in a section of the city that was a hub for anti-SB 1070 protests a decade before.

Juarez’s film captures the mural coming to life and explores the artist's concerns about family separations happening along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Still shot from the film La Morena.EXPAND
Still shot from the film La Morena.
Mango Skies Films

La Morena is part of a robust lineup of films being shown during the Indie Film Fest, which happens in February at various downtown Phoenix venues.

It was founded in 2018 by Phoenix filmmaker Matty Steinkamp, after he worked with Juarez to promote another local film called You Racist, Sexist, Bigot.

They traveled across the country making the film festival rounds but didn’t find the type of connections or support they were seeking for the film, which shares first-person accounts of discrimination.

So Steinkamp pulled together a team of volunteers and decided to launch Phoenix’s own indie film fest.

The three-day event includes film screenings for dramatic and documentary feature films, as well as experimental films, short films, and music videos. It also includes filmmaker table readings, panel discussions, and Q&A sessions.

Live music and multimedia installations will round out this year's event. Venues include FilmBar, Paz Cantina, and Smooth Brew. There's even a virtual reality film walk through Roosevelt Row.

Film discussion during the 2019 Indie Film Fest.EXPAND
Film discussion during the 2019 Indie Film Fest.
Mango Skies Films

Of course, other factors influenced Steinkamp's decision to launch the festival, including the prevalence of mainstream festivals that don't meet his expectations about diversity and inclusion. “We aren't seeing equal representation on a cultural or economic level,” he says of the local film scene.

“There aren’t enough films focused on underrepresented communities,” Steinkamp says. “And too many people can’t afford tickets to the well-established festivals.”

He has another focus, as well.

“We want to help build a sense of community,” Steinkamp says.

It’s a reference not only to the local film scene, but the city as a whole. He’s hoping the festival will bring diverse community members together in ways that help them feel more mutual respect and connection.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Juarez hopes the Indie Film Fest will encourage more locals to create their own films. “The film industry can be intimidating, in part because there are so many men doing it,” she says. “We want this festival to encourage more young people and people of color to tell their stories.”

She’s hoping this year’s selections will encourage others to grab a camera and start filming. “Your movie doesn’t have to be perfect,” she says. “You just have to make it.”

Indie Film Fest is scheduled from Friday, February 7, through Sunday, February 9, at various downtown Phoenix venues. Ticket prices vary. Visit theindiefilmfest.com.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.