Music News

Local Filmmakers Stir Up Phoenix Sci-Fi Mystery in "The Appearance of a Man"

"Do you remember what you looked like before you were born?"

One night, a mysterious man appears on the streets of Phoenix, asking this question and raising dozens more. Nobody knows who he is, where he comes from, why he's here, or why he looks so peculiarly familiar. All they know is that this guy just seemed to materialize out of nowhere, the exact same night as the mysterious "Phoenix lights" that appeared over Valley skies on March 13, 1997.

It sounds stranger than fiction, but although the story revolves around the actual "Phoenix lights" event, the mysterious man is a figment of local director/writer Daniel Pace's imagination. Pace is one of the men behind the feature drama/mystery movie, The Appearance of a Man, which will be opening locally at Harkins Valley Art on September 11.

For the film, Pace once again worked with producer and actor (and ASU alum) Michael Tassoni (the duo also worked together on Pace's 1999 film, 14 Ways to Wear Lipstick, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 1999 Slamdance Film Festival). 

In The Appearance of a Man, Tassoni plays Father Michael, a clergyman searching for answers about the mysterious stranger, and life and death themselves. (One of the movie's many great one-liners: "Dying is just getting up and going into another room.") Tassoni won the Best Actor award for his role at the 2008 San Diego Film Festival.

While man attempts to unravel the enigmas, science and religion butt heads, as usual, with someone making this observation about things that come from the sky: "2000 years ago, they called them angels. Today, we call them aliens."

Father Michael's character is joined in his quest by his colorful mentor Father Daniel, played by Thomas Basham, and a disturbed Vietnam vet (played by Richard Glover), who believes the man who appeared in Phoenix on March 13, 1997 is the man who saved his life in Vietnam.

Pace's experimental mystery film incorporates news clips, "amateur videos" of the Phoenix Lights, and harrowing, suspenseful, shadow-filled cinematography. The Appearance of a Man seems packed with layers of intrigue and revelations, and has already won a handful of awards, including the Heineken Red Star Award and a Best Feature award from Indie-Fest.

Check out the trailer for the film at

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea