UA alums screen their work at Bisbee Film Fest to bring social issues to light

Bisbee, Arizona, is widely known for its culturally diverse atmosphere and inclusive environment of acceptance. The small Southern Arizona town fosters an excellent environment for art of all forms, including film. Likewise, from Nov. 18-22, the UA Hanson Film Institute and Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum will present the second annual Bisbee Film Festival.

The anticipated audience is estimated to be about 600 people. Each screening is free to the public, but reserving tickets in advance is recommended. The festival offers critically acclaimed films shown in high definition, followed by intimate conversations with the filmmakers and speakers.

“Highlights from this year’s slate of films include ‘A Poem is a Naked Person,’ ‘Almost There,’ ‘Forbidden City USA,’ ‘India’s Daughter,’ ‘Las Marthas,’ and ‘3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets,’ said Leslie Yerman, the festival’s marketing manager.

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The theme for the festival is “One People, One Planet.” The selection focuses on how humans treat each other and our environment, with topics covering contemporary and future issues. All films shown at the festival revolve around the planet and those residing on it.

“Two years ago, the mayor at the time began conceiving the idea of a film festival,” said Vicky Westover, the director of the Hanson Film Institute. “They needed to find a niche to really fit the film festival into place, though. [Bisbee’s] brand is sort of to be the thoughtful stewards of the planet. So theme of the festival reflected the brand of Bisbee.”

Westover said the festival serves as a means for creating conversation in the community.

“The Bisbee Film Festival is a great way to raise awareness and is an opportunity to watch films in a communal setting and then have a dialogue about them,” Westover said.

An abundance of films will be showcased at the festival. Some are created by rising directors in the industry, but most are documentaries while a few are short films or narratives.

One such film, “Stray Dog,” directed by award-winning filmmaker Debra Granik, was announced “Best Documentary” by the Indie Memphis, Los Angeles and Twin Cities film festivals and is a nominee for Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards.

The film fest will also showcase the work of recent UA film graduates. “Bloodlines,” directed by Christopher Nataanii Cegielski, follows two brothers who attempt to earn their father’s respect by locating a wolf that has been killing their ranch’s livestock. “Gaja,” directed by Jackie Stubbs, is a reflective travelogue which follows a multicultural filmmaker and her Korean-born mother as they embark on an unexpected journey. “La Graduación,” directed by Rafael Gomez, follows a stuck-up, wealthy and arrogant Ignacio as he meets his new best friends — the Mexican Federal Police — driving across the desert highways of Sonora, Mexico.

Westover said the best parts about the Bisbee Film Festival are often the post-screening discussions.

“Last year we showed a film about how bird poaching around the world is decimating the bird population,” Westover said. “We brought in a speaker and had a really interesting conversation about birds’ [preservation].”

The Bisbee Film Festival strongly encourages an environment where people can view, discuss and experience the many perspectives that film has on the world around us. Further information and a complete schedule can be found at bisbeefilmfestival.org.


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