A Bird’s-Eye View

By Tuesday Mahrle, November 2018 Issue.

With more than three dozen film festivals screening a wide variety of titles, genres and themes on big screens throughout Arizona each year, it takes thoughtful consideration and connection to ensure curate titles that reflect the diversity of their audiences.

Since 2001, the Scottsdale International Film Festival has offered a bird’s-eye view of relevant topics. And this year is no exception.

“The stories told in the films we have selected beautifully address a number of cross-cultural issues facing both men and women today, including sexuality, religious conflict, cultural expectations and a fair amount of comic relief,” Ettinger said. “We have always prided ourselves on our ability to offer audiences a wide-screen view of the world through the art of cinema, and this season’s slate is extraordinary.”

The 18th annual festival will take place from Nov. 2 to 11, and all screenings (besides Roma), will take place at Harkins Shea 14. This year, the festival has been expanded from its usual five-day run to 10 days with more than 50 films, Q&A sessions with directors and actors and an LGBTQ movie series.

Continuing its goal of inclusion and diversity, the festival has included LGBTQ films since its inception.

“I had been aspiring from the jump to keep LGBT[Q] movies in the theater, whether it be one movie or three,” Ettinger explained, adding that audiences are in for an impressive lineup this year.

While the interest and viewership for LGBTQ-centered films has continued an upward trajectory, Ettinger doesn’t see a future where LGBTQ and “mainstream” cinema will need to be divided.

“Interestingly, as time has gone by and culture has evolved, [LGBTQ themes in] so many of the films I like and want to program into the festival … [are] becoming more of an organic part of the storyline, rather than a ‘made by gay, for gay’ concept,” she explained. “Gay is much more mainstream in movies and everyday TV watching.”

LGBTQ Spotlight

Boy Erased

Nov. 4 at 7:50 p.m.

R | 114 minutes | Biography, Drama

Boy Erased tells the courageous story of Jared Eamons, the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town. After being outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe), he is faced with their struggle to reconcile their love for him with their beliefs. Fearing a loss of family, friends and community, Jared is pressured into attending a conversion therapy program. While there, he comes into conflict with the program’s leader and begins his journey to finding his own voice and accepting his true self.

Every Act of Life

Nov. 3 at 2:05 p.m. | Nov. 10 at 1:55 p.m.

NR | 92 minutes | Documentary

Every Act tells the story of the life and work of four-time Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally. Follow his personal journey through theatre, the fight for LGBT rights, addiction and ultimate recovery, his closeted relationships and the power his work has on generations.

Good Manners (As Boas Maneiras)

Nov. 3 and 7 at 7:30 p.m.

NR | 135 minutes | Horror, Science Fiction

Clara is a young woman living on the outskirts of São Paulo. She is hired to be a live-in nanny to a mysterious and wealthy single woman, Ana. The two form an unusual friendship but something is lurking in the background. One evening, things change from odd to frightful as Ana’s strange behaviors reveal her deep, dark secrets.

The Heiresses (Las Herederas)

Nov. 4 at 2:25 p.m. | Nov. 11 at 1:40 p.m.

NR | 95 minutes | Drama

Chela and Chiquita have been a loving couple for more than 30 years. Financial difficulties force them to sell some of their inherited furniture, each a beloved article of memorabilia. When Chiquita is sent to prison for fraud, Chela is suddenly left on her own and must venture out for work. While providing local taxi services for a group of elderly ladies, she meets a young woman, Angy, and is forced to break out her shell and rediscover her desires.


Nov. 9 at 7p.m.

NR | 102 minutes | Drama, Biopic

Hailed as one of the most important, yet controversial photographers in American history, Robert Mapplethorpe brought the underground BDSM scene of New York City to life through his portrait-style photography. Directed by Ondi Timoner, this biopic follows the artist as he embraces his sexuality in the gay scene of NYC, finds his voice and vision as an artist and his self-destruction amid the the emerging AIDS crisis.


Nov. 3 at 7:40 p.m. | Nov. 10 at 7:35 p.m.

NR | 82 minutes | Drama

Inspired by Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko’s 2007 Caine Prize-winning short story Jambula Tree, Rafiki is the story of friendship and tender love that grows between two young women, amid family and political pressures. When love blossoms between Kena and Ziki, the two girls are forced to choose between happiness and safety.

A film still from Studio 54 by Matt Tyrnauer, an official selection of the Documentary Premieres program at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Studio 54

Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. | Nov. 10 at 7:45 p.m.

NR | 98 minutes | Documentary

Studio 54 was the epicenter of ’70s hedonism – a place that not only redefined the nightclub, but also came to symbolize an entire era. Co-owners, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, seemed to come out of nowhere to suddenly preside over a new kind of New York society. Now, 39 years after the velvet rope was first slung across the venue’s hallowed threshold, a feature documentary tells the real story behind the greatest club of all time.

Wild Nights with Emily

Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

NR | 84 minutes | Comedy, Biopic

Starring Molly Shannon as Emily Dickinson, Wild Nights with Emily is a fictional comedy that challenges the spinster persona of the late writer and heralds her as a woman ahead of her time – in both intellect and sexuality. The film explores the vivacious, irreverent side of her that was covered up for many years – most notably Dickinson’s lifelong romance with another woman.

For a complete list of the 2018 Scottsdale International Film Festival’s titles and showtimes, visit scottsdalefilmfestival.com.

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