TOMI or not TOMI?

So we all know Phoenix is going to be brimming this weekend with all the ballers and shot-callers an NBA All-Star game usually brings with it. But between the popping of bubbly and the dunking of balls, we can all still carve out a little time for some culture, can we not? Tonisha Johnson, the founder and CEO of TOMI Enterprises, is keeping her fingers crossed.

Her TOMI Film Festival hits Phoenix this weekend, with events and screenings Thursday through Saturday. TOMI, which stands for "The Other Movie Industry," bills itself as a festival that "builds relationships between the filmmaker and the business of entertainment." They say their mission is to "supply the filmmaker with not just a financial means of celebratory satisfaction but a more structured business that will incorporate a multitude of actual on-hands work." Several movies will be screening over the weekend, including "Becoming Michael" and "Dirty Girl," with Q&As with filmmakers peppered throughout.

There are a ton of film festivals out there, so how is TOMI not like the others? Johnson points out that the filmmaker with the winning entry doesn't simply get a check, but a "team" of people to help get them started in the film industry, including an established publicist and a financial advisor. Which, yknow, sounds like it would be far more useful to an up-and-coming filmmaker than a check that might as well say, "Spend on blow and hookers" on the memo line.

If nothing else, TOMI could be a fun alternative to watching Amare Stoudemire make like the king shit of Phoenix for the weekend. And who knows, a few years from now you could be the cool guy at the party who saw--insert future famous director's name here's--first film.

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Yvonne Zusel
Contact: Yvonne Zusel