Phoenix Film Festival 2014: Sunday’s fun day of films
Sunday was a fun day of indie films and geeky goodness at the 2014 Phoenix Film Festival (PFF) and International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival (IHSFF). In fact it was officially “Geek Day” at the festival and the PFF Party Pavilion was packed with local pop culture themed artisans, vendors, costumers, game developers and tech school representatives. The Phoenix Cupcake Company was even on hand with Captain America themed cookies. Mmm…patriolicious!
“The Joe Show” representatives were out early in striped tops and pink underwear promoting the Sunday screening of the film, one of the most popular of the festival; and the Sherriff had at least one supporter on hand Sunday morning, with a sign saying she supported Joe’s stance on immigration issues.
After three straight days of movies, “The Joe Show” was my favorite film of the festival (not to mention the scariest) and it’s highly recommended that you seek it out. It should be required viewing for all Arizonans.
Here’s a rundown and capsule reviews of the films I took in on Sunday:
Sci-Fi Shorts B – This awesome collection of films (selected again by Sci-Fi author, Michael Stackpole) was the perfect way to start off “Geek Day” at the festival. There’s not a loser in this lot and a few of them were my favorites of the festival.
- Liftoff – This Israel short was a great lead-in to the short films that followed. It’s a crudely animated story of a rocketship to the moon, where the astronaut ecstatically leaps about in the zero-gravity, thrilled to be exploring space. That is until reality smacks him in the face in a twist that hits at the heart of every science-fiction fan. I absolutely loved this tiny little film and I’m not sure where you can find it (or even information about it), but it’s worth seeking out.
- LiFi – A group of three nerdy scientists in their garage have figured out how to transport objects from one place to another, but they have also accidently discovered a side-effect of the transportation process that could forever alter life as we know it. This is a thought-provoking short film that is also extremely witty, with well-developed characters and smart dialogue. This is one of my favorites from the festival.
- Cell Phone of the Future – This short plays as a commercial for a cell phone that is implanted into your skull. Very stylishly done, this looks like an advertisement for an actual product, and it makes one wonder if cybernetics like this could actually be the next step in cellphone technology.
- Your Cocoon and You – This short from Salt Lake City filmmaker, Dallin Cerva, is another of my favorites from the festival. The friendship between two nerdy roommates is in jeopardy when one of the guys gets involved with a girl and begins to mature beyond their world of Star Wars and video games; literally coming out of his shell. This is a very thoughtful and funny film about relationships, change and growth.
- Passing – An old man gets a mysterious visit from a man who made arrangements for this meeting two decades earlier. As the story unfolds it addresses the meaning of life and the importance of living it to its fullest. This is a very touching and thought-provoking short film that boarders on heart-wrenching by its end.
- My Date with Adam – A wedding planner is nearing a birthday milestone and is desperate to find a partner of her own; but when she finally meets the perfect man, he turns out to be more (or less) than she expected. This one proves that even Nerds can get the girl in the end; it’s a funny sci-fi romantic comedy.
- DOUG.DAT – A lazy loser’s life is analyzed by a future scientist in a post-apocalyptic future. But when Doug’s consciousness is digitally reactivated, his past life-experiences may not be of much help to the future world. This is a fun and thoughtful short with lots of cool gizmo technology.
- Sad Monster – This Canadian short is more of a music video for a song by director Kurt Dettbarn. A little girl casts a monster (that looks like it could be from Where the Wild Things Are) out of her house and the depressed beast is forced into the cruel world to fend for itself. It’s a fun concept set to great music and you can’t help but feel sympathy for the creature.
- B-Class Cultural Heritage – This Japanese short mixes action-adventure with sci-fi as a young skateboarder traverses a Japanese city with manholes and other city utilities that don’t like to be trifled with. It’s a fun action-packed short with a great payoff at the end.
Billy Club – This throwback horror flick is a mash-up of Friday the 13th and The Bad News Bears; but in this case the team has some really bad news as a serial killer is out to murder them all for humiliating him (or her) on the baseball field when they were all kids.
The killer uses a modified baseball bat with nails and a knife, and he/she wears a disturbing umpire outfit while enacting his/her revenge. It’s all pretty cheesy and low budget, but it’s meant to be that way in homage to the “slasher” films of the eighties.
As the story unfolds, it turns out the killer actually has some pretty decent motivation, and there are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing about his/her identity. There are also enough laughs to keep the film’s mood loose and not to serious.
Slashers aren’t typically my favorite type of film, but I enjoyed this one, which was unique enough and fun enough to keep my interest. If you are a fan of this genre, then I think you’ll consider Billy Club a hit.
More Phoenix Film Festival 2014:
Phoenix Film Festival 2014: Friday’s rabid film roundup
Phoenix Film Festival 2014: Saturday’s cinematic spectacles