Beginning Later This Month, The Festival Will Feature Members Of The Hollywood Elite, Including Pierce Brosnan, Richard Dreyfuss And Also Five Oscar-Nominated Films


By Ryan Scott
Modern Times Magazine

Feb. 12, 2018 — The 24th edition of the Sedona International Film Festival is set to take over northern Arizona later this month, with more than 150 selections of feature-length films, documentaries and shorts, including five of this year’s Oscar nominees. Those films include Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Last Men in Aleppo, Faces Places (Best Documentary Feature); The Insult (Foreign Film); and Watu Wote: All of Us (Live Action Short Film).

“We have five films that are vying for Oscars,” said Sedona Film Festival Executive Director Pat Schweiss. As it happens, The Oscars are the last night of the festival and several venues taking part in the festival are actually showing the Oscars. Schweiss says that “everything is my responsibility,” as they have a very small paid staff, with just three people on the payroll, who run the festival.

Consequently, volunteers also have a big role to play.

“We have about 150 volunteers that make the festival happen,” he said. “It’s blood, sweat and tears, but it’s a great thing. It takes a village, as they say.” Another volunteer group of 25 to 30 individuals watches hundreds of movies to narrow the selection for the festival.

Among the more high-profile features being shown at the festival include Poisoning Paradise, a film by Pierce Brosnan and his wife Keely. Not only is the movie dealing with interesting subject matter in regards to the impact of testing genetically engineered seeds and crops in Hawaii, but the Brosnans will actually be on hand at the festival in Sedona for the screening and will participate in a post-screening Q&A.

“What we really pride ourselves on, and there’s a few things, but bringing in films that matter,” Schweiss said. “Films that move you, that touch you, that touch your heart. We pair that with bringing all of the filmmakers in so you can have that interaction, with Q&As after almost every single screening of films.”

So how is it that a film festival in Sedona manages to wrangle talent like a former James Bond and Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss, who will return to the Sedona International Film Festival, where he will be honored with a 40th anniversary screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as well as a screening of 1978’s The Big Fix? According to Schweiss, it’s got a lot to do with how they treat the filmmakers and talent.

“Our filmmakers are treated like royalty,” he said. People from the hospitality industry donate rooms, local restaurants donate food and many chip in to make sure that the talent is taken care of. “It’s such a positive festival experience for our filmmakers that that automatically trickles down to our audience, and they sense that,” Schweiss added.

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