Posts Tagged ‘Helen Stephenson’

  • Happy Oscars! … And Valentine’s Day

    By Helen Stephenson There’s a huge party, and you’re invited! February marks a tradition at the Prescott Film Festival — namely, Oscar Month. Each February, the festival screens as many Oscar-nominated films as possible. Screenings culminate in “An Evening at the Academy Awards,” where the event is broadcast live at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. The broadcast itself is, ahem, free. However, if you’d like to support the Prescott Film Festival, please come early for the “Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party.” Tickets are $50 for the party and reserved seats in the auditorium, plus two drinks. If you want to go all-out, there are just 16 tickets available in the VIP suites. These film festival supporters get a swag Bag, reserved seats in the VIP suites, additional drinks and special treats, along with their own waiters. This year, the film festival got a jump on Oscar Month by screening two films before nominations were announced: “Boyhood,” with six and “Ida” with two. As we’re writing this article at the last moment possible, nominations were just announced. Organizers are busily writing to distributors and producers to see which films they can bring to Prescott in February. We do know we will be screening all of the Oscar-nominated short films. Animated films include Disney’s “Feast,” which is about a rescue dog observing the romantic life of a new couple, “My Single Life,” which

  • Nun, the wiser

    By Helen Stephenson “Riveting, original and breathtakingly accomplished on every level, “Ida” would be a masterpiece in any era, in any country.” — Godfrey Cheshire, RogerEbert.Com “Ida” is Poland’s entry into this year’s Oscar race for Best Foreign Film. The movie is shaping up to be a favorite, featured on many short lists from critics across the country. The Prescott Film Festival features the film at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17 at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students. The film, which takes place in 1960s Poland, is about a young novitiate nun who, on the verge of taking her vows, discovers a dark family secret dating from the terrible years of the Nazi occupation. An orphan brought up in a convent, she is preparing to become a nun. But, before she takes her vows, the Mother Superior insists she first visit her sole living relative. Naïve, innocent Anna soon finds herself in the presence of her Aunt Wanda, a worldly and cynical Communist Party insider, who shocks her with the declaration that her real name is Ida and her Jewish parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation. Kimberly Gadett writes of the film: “‘Ida’ should be required viewing for all budding filmmakers. Rather than relying on any preceding work that had been driven by the written word, director Pawel Pawlikowski and

  • Seeing red

    By Helen Stephenson EXT. YAVAPAI COLLEGE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER – NIGHT – ESTABLISHING SHOT The outside lights are on, and the trees twinkle with white lights. A red carpet has been rolled out and antique and classic cars surround the entrance. Men in tuxedos and women in high heels and sleek formal gowns start to arrive.  Photographers snap photos and videographers capture moments. Two friends, Dorothy, Caroline, walk up the red carpet. They are around 65-years-old, bubbly, excited, and having the time of their lives. There is an interviewer at the end of the red carpet. INTERVIEWER Good evening ladies! Are you ready for a great evening at the Academy Awards telecast? DOROTHY We are dressed to the nines and ready to win! INTERVIEWER (laughing) Win? Are you nominated in one of the categories? CAROLINE (laughing) Not an Oscar! Passes to the annual Prescott Film Festival! DOROTHY That’s right! We’ve watched almost every film that’s  been nominated, including all the nominated shorts! CAROLINE And don’t forget “Boyhood”! It had a HUGE Oscar buzz, so we saw that one, too! INTERVIEWER How did you ladies see all the Oscar-nominated short films? DOROTHY The film festival screened them in February! CAROLINE All three categories for the shorts: animated, live action, and documentary. INTERVIEWER So it sounds like you are both going to be prepared to fill out your ballots! DOROTHY Yep! And

  • Silence is golden: A quasi-modal Halloween treat

    By Helen Stephenson It’s that time again. When scary creatures rule the night … on Mt. Vernon Street. When ghosts and ghouls abound … at the Prescott Center for the Art’s “Ghost Talk.” When bad horror movies are lampooned … during “Friday Night” at The Elks Theatre. It’s also the time when the Prescott Film Festival holds its most popular event of its entire monthly series: its annual, Halloween vent with a silent film and live piano accompaniment by Jonathan Best. It’s 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31 at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $12. This year’s flick is Wallace Worsley’s 1923 silent classic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” starring Lon Chaney. Before this film, Chaney had been relegated to the roles of a character actor. His performance in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” elevated him to star status, and, in total, he made 163 films. In “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Chaney plays the hunchbacked bell ringer, Quasimodo. His makeup included a mouth device that made his cheeks jut out and contact lenses that blanked out one of his eyes. For the hump, he wore a rubber creation covered with animal hair that may’ve weighed as much as 50 pounds. The film is based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, and is the second film adaptation thereof. (The first came from Theda Bara à la

  • That’s a wrap: Reflections and reflections on reflections

    By Helen Stephenson The fifth annual Fest broke attendance records and the buzz in the community was consistently positive — that Yavapai County now sees Prescott as a part of the fabric that makes us such a unique place to live. Some volunteers work as ushers and greeters and do occasional films. Others, like those in the programming department, work for six months every year. And some, like the hard-working board of directors, even work year round. The festival also enjoyed a new level of support from county businesses and foundations. From the James Family Trust, J. W. Kieckhefer Foundation, Margaret T. Morris Foundation and Great Lakes Airlines, to almost every hotel in the Prescott area, to restaurants like El Gato Azul, Bill’s Pizza, Murphy’s, and The Gurley Street Grill, there was an amazing show of support. All are appreciated. Without any of those components, there simply wouldn’t be a Prescott Film Festival. It really takes community support to shore up an all-volunteer organization like the film fest.   Onward and upward Moving forward, the festival is back with its monthly series. We are absolutely thrilled to present a very special film that’s been touching film lovers around the world, “Life Itself,” about the life of Robert Ebert. Acclaimed Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) and executive producers Martin Scorsese (“The Departed”) and Steven Zaillian (“Moneyball”) present this beautiful documentary that recounts

  • Picture perfect: Prescott Film Festival returns for fifth screening

    Jul 4, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, Portfolio15 CommentsRead More »

    By Robert Blood At her friend’s side, Helen Stephenson offered condolences to a man who’d survived a heart attack and open heart surgery earlier that morning. And Chris David, that man, was having none of it. “The meeting was that afternoon,” David explained weeks after that day in May. “I was trying to give her as many instructions as I could.” Later that day, Stephenson and David’s wife, Pat, recounted the story to a group of people who, after expressing sympathy, voiced disbelief. “That’s how important it is to him,” Stephenson said. “I think there’s a movie in this.” And she’d know. That’s why they’d gathered — to talk about movies. Well, not just any movies: This not-so-clandestine coterie had assembled to make selections for the fifth annual Prescott Film Festival, which runs July 23-27. After watching more than 200 shorts and feature-length narratives and documentaries, it was time for festival founder and executive director Stephenson’s jury to plot a silver screen gala. Because, as they say, the show must go on.   Intention & evolution The Prescott Film Festival wasn’t so much channeled from a muse as it was extrapolated from a musing. “A friend and I were walking downtown in the summer of 2008, and we just started talking about film festivals,” Stephenson said. “We decided Prescott is just so darn cute that it needs its own film

  • Sneakier peak: Final film fest feature four play

    By Helen Stephenson A special sneak peek of July’s Prescott Film Festival flies into Peregrine Book Company at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 14 in downtown Prescott. The screening is comprised of four short films that are official selections of the fifth annual fest. Additionally, screening attendees enjoy special, one-night-only discounts on festival passes. One of the films is “Titanic Love,” a romantic comedy that has won 39 awards on the film festival circuit (so far). The short is about Lucy, an ardent fan of the film “Titanic.” She discovers a very expensive Titanic-themed love cruise and desperately wants to attend. Her boyfriend, Jack, feels they can’t afford it and Lucy is furious. Their relationship hits rough waters and Jack calls on his best friend Delroy for advice and a cheap alternative. True to form, Delroy and his trusty sidekick Jaz come up with a cunning plan that could change all of their lives forever. Delroy is going to bring the Titanic to Birmingham, but can disaster be averted? Another film is “A Lovely Treat,” a romantic comedy about high expectations love, and that fine line between reality and fantasy. There’s also “Woody,” a stop-motion animated film about a wooden artist model who dreams of playing piano. The problem is that he only has wooden paddles for hands. Stuck in a job he doesn’t want, he dreams of being a concert

  • Field trip: Sedona Film School fest

    By Helen Stephenson It’s May, and that means it’s time for the Sedona Film School at Yavapai College’s annual student film fest. Film students have been working long and hard this year honing their craft, absorbing information from faculty and staff, and preparing their thesis films. Students write, produce, direct, edit, and do the sound on their films, each with a unique vision. This is the time for them to find their individual voice and practice putting that on film. (Or, 1s and 0s, actually.) This year, thanks to the generosity of the Sedona International Film Festival, the event will be held at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre at 2030 W. State Route 89A, in Sedona. Ticket/pass prices vary and are listed on the Sedona International Film Festival website. The fun starts at 6 p.m. Friday, May 23 with the Opening Night Gala at the Sedona Rouge Hotel. Come in formal attire, full costume or just “dress your head” from your favorite, (or least favorite!) film. A day of film screens begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 24. All student films from this year’s graduates screen at least twice. Narrative films include the post-apocalyptic thriller “Walter” from Lindsay Thorton, “Dark Shadows,” a horror film from Daryan Burguan, “Key Frame,” a tense mystery from Shane Kennedy, “Alone,” a psychological thriller from Stephen Laughran, “The Scientist,” a sci-fi thriller from Sam Worseldine,

  • Funny business

    By Helen Stephenson What’s the most difficult genre to write? Ask a random group of screenwriters and they’ll usually say comedy. What’s the most difficult genre to direct? Ask a random group of directors and they’ll usually say comedy. That’s why, when the programming department of the Prescott Film Festival finds a high-quality comedy film, they justhaveta grab it to share with their audience. Ergo, on 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 26, a fun romantic indie comedy will light up the screen at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. That film is “Go With Le Flo,” which is in French and German (with English subtitles) and was filmed in Berlin by two American filmmakers. It’s an early Official Selection for the fifth annual Prescott Film Festival. Here’s a blurb about the film from a reviewer at The Independent Critic: “Director Michael Glover is spontaneous and spirited enough to breathe life into the familiar with some interesting twists, entertaining asides, and an absolutely delightful cast that keeps you completely entertained. Denis Aubert’s performance is one of heart, humor and honest goodness and stays with you long after the closing credits have rolled on by. … You can’t help but fall madly in love with Marina Senckel from the first moment she pops up on the screen.” Tickets are $8 for general admission and $5 for students from any school and Yavapai College

  • All the world’s a staging area

    By Helen Stephenson Ext. Sunrise Three filmmakers sit on a hillside overlooking the old Senator Drive-In.  The marquee says “Happy 50th Anniversary Margie! Remember when we used to make out here?” Kathleen is around 25, dressed a bit “retro” with a 1920s hat perched jauntily on her head and a script on her lap.  SAM is around 23, a “hippie-type” with tie-died t-shirt, holey jeans and sandals, a “Film Production” book at his side.  ANDY is 20, clean cut and sits military straight, conservative polo shirt and khakis but with red high-top tennis shoes.   KATHLEEN Did you hear what happened with Hanna’s short film?   ANDY The creepy one about the student and the teacher?   SAM (sitting up straight, an  imaginary newspaper between his hands,“reading”) You mean the one reviewers call “tantalizing,” “draining,” and “out of control?”   ANDY OK – what???   KATHLEEN It’s been picked up by HBO as a series.   ANDY (Slapping his forehead) I knew I should have shot my action flick about an aging martial arts master.  I could have gotten Jackie Chan to star. I just know it.   SAM Instead you shot a homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s shower scene in “Psycho.”   ANDY (Sighing happily and leaning back) Best production day ever.  The crew paid me just to be there.   Kathleen slugs him in the stomach.  He sits back

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