The Chandler International Film Festival returns for its fifth year

By Velvet Wahl; photos courtesy of Chandler International Film Festival

Weekend movie night just got better with the Chandler International Film festival streaming a variety of independent films straight to you in the comfort of your own home or even your car.

The festival, founded by Mitesh Patel, is entering its fifth year and takes place January 21-24. The films will be shown in theater and at the Chandler Center for the Arts Parking Lot as a drive-in, both with limited capacity. 

There will be a red carpet experience every night for attendees to dress up and take pictures while following CDC social distancing and masking guidelines. And for those who feel more comfortable staying home, the films will also be available for online streaming for the first time. 

“It's a great time whether you like to dress down or dress up,” festival board member Dave Waltzer said. “Not everybody gets a chance to dress up all the time, especially as closed in as people were last year. So if you're just going out and getting dressed up, responsibly watching a movie and having some fun, there's probably nowhere better to be the 21 through 24 of this month than at the festival.”

Dave Waltzer, Chandler International Film Festival

“There is one, [Angie: Lost Girls] about sex and human trafficking. That's a big one,” Waltzer said. “The proceeds from that are going to go to CeCe's Hope Center, an organization right here in Chandler that helps those women get back on their feet after being rescued and breaking free from that kind of situation.”

The over 120 films scheduled to be shown include everything from dramas to comedies to horror, meaning there is something for everyone. The festival also has a list of documentaries that will have a big impact on local communities.

Some LGBTQ-focused films will also be shown, two of which stuck out to Waltzer. One of them, A Clear Day, details a weekend getaway between two friends that goes awry. The other, El Pato y el Burro, explores the relationship between two enemies, David and Randall, who end up in the principal's office. 

Diversity in the films chosen for the festival is very important to the board, Waltzer said, and the festival will showcase films that span 35 countries and six continents.

“We want to have films that represent everything that there is, ideally, in the world. And that's what makes the art of filmmaking such a beautiful thing,” Waltzer said. “Everybody has input and a say and can put their story out. There are so many great stories, why would you not want to have all the amazing stories included?”

The festival will also be bringing in film directors and actors for a special Q&A session on the red carpet. They will be following social distancing and masking guidelines and clear plexiglass will separate the guests from the interviewer.

Waltzer said he is extremely excited about actors from the Unhealer, one of several films based in Arizona, joining the Q&A lineup. The film follows the story of a bullied teenager who is bestowed with Native American powers that protect him from bullies. When someone he loves dies because of the bullies, he seeks revenge. The crew from The Cove, a film about a pandemic that has devastated Earth, will also be at the Q&A.

As for the future of the festival, they plan to continue its online streaming in the future to increase the reach of the festival and hope to increase film submissions and attendance, Waltzer said.

Visit the site for complete festival information and to buy tickets.

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