The 23rd Annual Phoenix Film Festival returns March 23 through April 2 at Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatre, 7000 E. Mayo Blvd.

The Phoenix Film Festival started in 2000 by three local filmmakers to get their films some exposure in their hometown. Twenty-three years and thousands of movies later, the Phoenix Film Foundation has grown from a small exhibition to a multi-day celebration of film with over 200 films, filmmaking seminars, free panel discussions, parties, and student workshops.

This year promises to be the best yet, says Executive Director Jason Carney. He’s been with the Phoenix Film Festival for 18 years, starting out as a volunteer. “I had no idea what a film festival was,” says Carney, who after volunteering for five years left his healthcare management job to work for the film festival for free for six months before a full-time position became available.
“Every year we shake things up and this year is no different, says Carney. New this year is a selection of films from Iranian women directors. “We’re also bringing back our high school student education programs, which are three different days of the festival with film classes where students learn how to write a script, produce a film, and work with professional directors.”

“We’re running three to seven screens for 11 days with 270 screenings throughout those days,” says Carney.

Sixty to 70% of screenings have a filmmaker in attendance and oftentimes there’s a Q&A with the filmmaker afterward, which is a unique element.

Over 900 films from around the world are submitted to the festival for review. The ones that make the cut are viewed by a committee at least twice before being accepted.
Four significant documentaries are being shown this year. These include “Still,” a movie about actor Michael J. Fox, one about singer Little Richard, one on basketball player Stephen Curry, and one Carney is particularly excited about, “Judy Blume Forever,” that chronicles the life of Judy Blume.

The Phoenix Film Festival is a program under the 501(c)3 non-profit organization Phoenix Film Foundation. Their mission is to support and develop the artistic appreciation, educational opportunities, and growth of independent film within Arizona. The Foundation’s primary functions through its programs are to promote the exhibition of independent films and conduct educational programs that teach the art of filmmaking.

Tickets and additional details are available at