As I write this, I am flying high (literally! – typing it out on my flight home) after spending the past three days at the Sedona International Film Festival. I flew out here last Friday to represent Going the Distance, which played as a part of the festival’s Shorts Program. I was so fortunate to be able to make it to the festival thanks to two awesome men in my life: my husband Chris, who solo-parented our one year-old while I was away, and my brother Eli, who drove all the way out from LA to accompany me there.
Every couple of years, Eli and I try to find time for a sibling weekend where we can catch up, reminisce, and make new memories together. In 2011 we went hiking in Bar Harbor, ME; in 2014 we spent a weekend in Palm Springs, CA; this year we decided on Sedona. I was particularly excited about this trip because – despite both being huge film fans and festival junkies – we had never attended a film fest together!
Eli picked me up from Phoenix on Friday morning and we made the 2-hour trek to Sedona in his little Honda Civic. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect, but props to the festival organizers, because their hospitality blew us away. The festival is in its 23rd year, and wow did it show! From the minute we got there, we were treated like royalty. We were greeted by obscenely nice volunteers (including the woman who checked us in, whose daughter happens to live less then a mile from me in Somerville! – small world), showered with gift bags, provided with unlimited festival passes, and put up in a wonderfully-cozy suite at the Sedona Springs Resort.
My screening was up first, and it couldn’t have gone any better. The screening sold out, and the other films in the lineup – aptly titled Just Great Shorts! – were excellent; I felt really honored to share the program with them. My favorites were Annie O’Neil’s doc Phil’s Camino, Megan Park's narrative Lucy In My Eyes, and Tom Teller’s student thesis film (from Chapman), Icarus, which was without a doubt the most incredibly-produced student short I have ever seen in my life!
After my screening, Eli and I scanned the film program and proceeded to fill the rest of the weekend with screening after screening. We saw three narrative features (The Happys, The Sandbox, and Slipaway), three docs (Enlighten Us, Obit, and Good Fortune), and a bevy of shorts (14 in total!!). My favorite – and I think Eli’s favorite too – was Slipaway: one of the most amazing indie films I have ever seen. The film had won the “Heart of the Festival Award,” and as such, was featured in a last-minute encore screening on the final day of the festival. Wow – it did not disappoint! I was so moved by the acting (Elaine Partnow and Jesse Pepe were outstanding), the script, the score, the cinematography… really, it was hard to find anything to criticize about it (and I’m usually really good at that!), which was all the more impressive considering it was the directors’ first feature film. Word on the street is that the film has been submitted to Boston's own IFFB, so hopefully the local film/film-enthusiast community here will be able to see this amazing film later in the spring.
At the end of the festival, Eli and I bunkered down in our hotel room for Eli’s favorite night of the year: the Academy Awards! Eli prepared a delicious spread (which included waaaay too much food for just two people), and manically rattled off his predictions while I scoured the red carpet for my favorite celebrity fashion ensembles. Most people will probably remember the 2017 Oscars as the year that the wrong Best Picture winner was read (for La La Land, when it actually belonged to Moonlight), but I will always remember it as the icing on the cake of a perfect weekend spent surrounded by creative, like-minded film-lovers (including my awesome brother), in beautiful, sunny - albeit unseasonably cold - Sedona!