The Scottsdale International Film Festival celebrates its 11th year with this Friday's opening night screening of the critically-acclaimed Like Crazy, continuing its tradition of raising the bar.
This year's line-up features 36 films from 27 countries, a new venue to better accommodate the crowds, and an impressive schedule of celebrity appearances and post-film discussions. Opening night alone will include a Q&A with Like Crazy stars Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Terminator Salvation) and Felicity Jones (The Tempest, Brideshead Revisited).
Narrowing down the long list of must-see films is no easy task. They span an array of genres and tastes, from the classical music devotee's dream, Mozart's Sister, to the German screwball comedy Neander-Jin: The Return of Neanderthal Man (because Germany hasn't had to watch all those Geico commercials over and over).
Nevertheless, here are seven of the movies we just can't wait to see:
See what we'll be in line for at Scottsdale Film fest after the jump.
Rundown: This contemporary, star-crossed romance follows a British college student (Jones) as she is torn away from the American boy she loves (Yelchin) when her visa is revoked. In an increasingly globalized world, this film is unafraid to show - amidst beautiful, brightly contrasting visuals - how easy it is for two people to be separated. Intimate, uplifting, and heartbreaking, Like Crazy won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
When: 8:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30
Why We Can't Wait: British actress Felicity Jones may not be allowed across the Atlantic in the film, but American audiences will soon welcome her with open arms. Jones - whose pouty-lipped English beauty just made her the new face of Burberry - won the Special Jury Prize for Best Actress at Sundance for her performance in Like Crazy, and starred in no less than eight films this year.
Rundown: Academy Award nominee Abigail Breslin stars as 13-year-old Janie, abandoned by her rehab-bound mother (Academy Award nominee Elizabeth Shue) on her rocker dad Ethan's (Alessandra Nivola) doorstep. As Ethan allows the band - and his life - to crumble around him, he finds new hope in the daughter he never knew. Watch for touching father-daughter duets filled with, like the film itself, a strange and pretty harmony.
When: 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, and 5:25 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2
Why We Can't Wait: Little Miss Sunshine cutie Abigail Breslin isn't so little anymore, but she is no less charming as the talented daughter, wise beyond her years, who proves her father's salvation.
Rundown: Take Shelter follows small-town father Curtis La Forche (Michael Shannon, most recently of "Boardwalk Empire" fame) as he struggles to protect his family from what he sees as impending disaster. An off-tempo study of a lone man's apocalyptic visions and his wife's (Jessica Chastain) concerned devotion, this film was awarded the Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes Film Festival.
When: 5:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4
Why We Can't Wait: Between Chastain, fresh out of her critically-lauded performances in The Help, The Debt, and The Tree of Life, and Shannon, finally getting the recognition he so richly deserves, Take Shelter promises some unforgettable performances.
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Rundown: Based on a best-selling novel of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin takes audiences behind the headlines to the palpable grief, confusion, and reflection of a mother (Tilda Swinton) whose son is responsible for a massacre at his high school. The film, an unflinching exploration of nature versus nurture, co-stars John C. Reilly as Kevin's father.
When: 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2, and 8:00 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3
Why We Can't Wait: Swinton may be garnering the most buzz for her performance as Kevin's mother, but it is Ezra Miller as the strangely terrifying and yet mundane Kevin who will prove the real standout.
Rundown: What if Butch Cassidy didn't die after all? That's the question posed by Blackthorn, which follows a grey-haired Cassidy (now going by the pseudonym James Blackthorn, and played by Sam Shepard) on one last adventure with a Spanish mine robber (Eduardo Noriega).
When: 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2
Why We Can't Wait: Ever since the famous, sepia-toned freeze frame on Robert Redford and Paul Newman at the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, we've been wondering what happened to our favorite (or second favorite) dashing bandit.
Rundown: Translated as The Roundup, this French film focuses on the rarely told true story of how the French government, collaborating with Hitler-controlled Nazi Germany in 1942, rounds up 13,000 Parisian Jews (including 4,000 children) and sends them to concentration camps. The film stars Jean Reno (The Da Vinci Code) and Melanie Laurent (Beginners, Inglourious Basterds), whose large, searching eyes are well-suited to reflecting the horrors she sees around her.
When: 11:10 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2, and 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4
Why We Can't Wait: This true story in France's history was one of the most unforgettable moments in the riveting (though long) documentary The Sorrow and the Pity, which has only recently become easily accessible. It's clear from the trailer that this film takes advantage of every inch of the frame to visually illustrate the overwhelming scope of this tragedy.
Rundown: Based on another little-told story, this time in American history, Amigo follows village mayor Rafael (Joel Torre) as he struggles to protect his family and his people during the Philippine-American War. Academy Award winner Chris Cooper stars as the violent and demanding Colonel Hardacre, who pressures Rafael to collaborate with the American occupiers.
When: 6:20 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1
Why We Can't Wait: Writer-director John Sayles, a true modern-day American auteur, will be in attendance to accept the Festival's 1st Artistic Diversity Award, as well as participate in a post-screening Q&A with the audience.
The 11th Annual Scottsdale International Film Festival takes place Friday, Sept. 30, through Tuesday, Oct. 4, at Harkins Shea 14. For information about tickets, multi-ticket packages, and two-for-one deals, or to check out the many more amazing films playing this year, click here.