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Your Guide to Must-See Movies at the 2018 Phoenix Film Festival

Tully is one of several must-see movies at this year's Phoenix Film Festival.
Focus Features
Tully is one of several must-see movies at this year's Phoenix Film Festival.
The Phoenix Film Festival is a cinephile’s dream.

From April 5 through 15, over 250 movies will screen at Harkins Scottsdale 101. Which means moviegoers are certain to find something they will enjoy. There are horror films, documentaries, previews of high-profile indie films, and offerings from local filmmakers. Part of the credit for the diverse lineup year after year goes to festival director Jason Carney, who strives to find films that would not normally be shown in Arizona.

To help guide you through the embarrassment of cinematic riches, we found 10 movies that you should add to your itinerary to give you the full Phoenix Film Festival experience.

Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much
Directed by C.J. Wallis
9:20 a.m. Friday, April 6; 4:55 p.m. Monday, April 9


Ted Slauson was an audience member on the hit game show The Price Is Right 37 times. Why? He discovered the prices for many of the products used in the games had not changed since Bob Barker began hosting the show in 1972. He memorized them and then used that knowledge to make a perfect bid on the Showcase Showdown in 2008.

The math teacher’s controversial actions reshaped a show known for its reluctance to change with the times. C.J. Wallis' documentary details Slauson’s dedication to the program and how he pulled off the unprecedented win. The film also features an interview with none other than the show’s erstwhile, longtime host, Barker.

Tully
Written by Diablo Cody
Directed by Jason Reitman
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 7

The creative team behind Juno and Young Adult have reunited.

In Tully’s funny-because-it’s-real teaser trailer, Charlize Theron's stressed-out Marlo attempts to put her newborn to sleep, pumps breast milk, and makes a frozen pizza for her ungrateful husband. Then, like a modern Mary Poppins, the title character, played by Mackenzie Davis, arrives at the doorstep promising to take care of the exhausted mother of three.

The dramedy got the secret screening slot at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Those in attendance admired the film for Davis’ performance and Cody’s script, which explores how different generations view the exhausting and seemingly unfulfilling world of parenthood. In need of a critical win after directing Labor Day and the condescending Men, Women and Children, Reitman has found a project that fits right in his wheelhouse. Tully's about finding the humanity in characters struggling to reconcile reality with preconceived notions.

To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story
Directed by Derek Dennis Herbert
9:40 p.m. Saturday, April 7; 10 p.m. Friday, April 13

Kane Hodder probably has killed more people on screen than anyone else in cinematic history, but the actor behind the iconic mask worn by Jason Voorhees in many of the Friday the 13th films is a gentle giant beloved by fans of the horror genre. But it was not easy for Hodder to slash his way to the top. His harrowing and ultimately inspirational journey, which includes the stuntman almost being burned to death, is told not only by Hodder but also many of his contemporaries in the industry, including actors Bruce Campbell, Robert Englund, and Sid Haig.

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Filmmaker Matty Steinkamp talks about You Racist, Sexist, Bigot.
Lynn Trimble
You Racist, Sexist, Bigot
Directed by Pita Juarez, Co-Directed by Matty Steinkamp
5 p.m. Monday, April 9; 9 a.m. Friday, April 13


Arizona isn't known for an inclusive atmosphere. Quite the opposite, actually. Which is why Mira Listen podcast host Pita Juarez and local filmmaker Steinkamp recorded Arizonans sharing their experiences with discrimination. The documentary is truly a local affair, with Phoenix-area musicians Camille Sledge and Taylor Upsahl featured on the film’s soundtrack.

Coalesce: A City Composed
Directed by Joshua J. Provost
5:05 p.m. Tuesday, April 10; 9:10 a.m. Friday, April 13; 6:20 p.m. Saturday, April 14


Speaking of the arts, Coalesce: A City Composed is a documentary that follows the genesis of the multimedia exhibition of the same name that took place at downtown Phoenix's Grand ArtHaus in December 2016. Visual artist Megan Jonas painted urban Phoenix landscapes, and musician Jordan Ignacio composed music to accompany the images. Director Joshua J. Provost is an Arizona native and explores how the artists are inspired, allowing them to express their creative process through animation and sound.