2001 Sedona International
Film Festival And Workshop -
A Preview . . .
seventh year, Sedona Cultural Park and its dedicated Film Festival
Steering Committee has waded through hundreds of films, some
unspeakably bad, to uncover the 50-60 gems that will comprise
the 2001 festival. After months of effort, the selection process
has whittled the "ins" list down to the best of the
a frenetic, romantic comedy for the co-dependent in all of us.
Its Trainspotting meets Dazed and Confused as we experience
a day in the smoke-filled, beer-numbed life of Tyler Morgan
(Casey Peterson), an urban hipster who makes the Marlboro Man
look like a health nut, as he desperately tries to do girlfriend
damage control after an unfortunate, drunken episode with a
The creative team
behind North Beach first met while attending the University
of Southern California. Director/producer Jed Mortenson and
editor David Crowther both attended USCs prestigious School
of Cinema/Television while writer/producer/actor Casey Peterson
and director/actor Richard Speight, Jr. attended USCs
School of Drama.
Mortenson, who grew
up in the San Francisco bay area, began his career in film by
stealing his parents Super 8 camera at age 10. After graduating
cum laude from USCs film school (despite a semester suspension
for a pyrotechnic experiment gone awry), he survived an employment
trial by fire, working for high powered industry professionals
like James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd (Cameron and Hurd collaborated
to create Terminator).
thrilled to be screening in Sedona," says Mortenson, "Its
an incredibly beautiful spot that also has a reputation for
strongly supporting the artistic community."
Jr., who joins Mortenson at the directing helm of North Beach,
is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. He has been acting professionally
for many years, most recently completing nine months of shooting
on location in London on the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks produced
HBO W.W.II mini-series Band of Brothers.
"This will be
our first screening in the Southwest," says Speight. "Its
always fun to see the different audience reactions in different
parts of the country."
agrees Peterson, a San Francisco native. "Even though the
film is specific to San Francisco, people all over the country,
and even in Europe, have seen it and told us I have friends
just like that!"
Peterson has been
working in the film industry since he was 10 years old, appearing
on sitcoms such as Happy Days and Silver Spoons as well as various
films. After attending USCs School of Theater, where he
met Speight, he won the role of Michael Landons son in
the CBS series Us, Landons final television show. After
a year and a half run as an auto mechanic on the Indy circuit,
Peterson returned to San Francisco and wrote the script for
North Beach has had
a successful festival run, playing across the nation and around
the world, at such festivals as the Brussels Independent Film
Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, and the San
Francisco Indiefest. Sedona will be the ninth film festival
that has screened the film.
While the festival was still finalizing
films at press time, most selections have already been confirmed,
including Tuvalu. Join Buster Keaton-like Anton on this poetic,
nearly wordless fairy tale of dreamlike absurdity.
In a tumble-down bathhouse, the few loyal
customers pay with buttons to frolic for a while in a once-glorious
pool, while its blind old proprietor is fooled into thoughts
of prosperity by gentle Antons daily broadcast of tape-recorded
people having fun. The simple balance is thrown off kilter with
the arrival of lovely Eva, who dreams of sailing away to the
exotic island of Tuvalu.
Daughters of Sun
From Iran, the festival presents Daughters
of Sun. Pieces of Amagols long, black hair tumble to the
earth and drift away on the wind as her father shaves her head
and dresses her as a boy in preparation for sending her to work
in a distant carpet workshop.
Iranian director Maryam Shahriars
directorial debut sees taboos and conventions flouted as a young
girl, Boelgheis, falls in love with Amagol.
Urban Ghost Story
Urban Ghost Story, from Scotland, unfolds
after a drug-fueled joyride leaves one teen dead and the other
with an unwelcome presence from beyond.
This thriller, set in a downtrodden Glasgow
tenement, follows Lizzie as she struggles to make her mother
understand that her ghostly visitor is more than just a bid
for attention. Starkly told without the overblown special effects
of many modern scary movies, it instead recalls the kind of
psychological terror of The Exorcist.
Lost in the
Pershing Point Hotel
Based on the hit off-Broadway play by the
same name, Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel is a look at the
seamy underbelly of the late-70s gay Atlanta subculture, as
seen through the eyes of its nameless, Truman Capote-ish protagonist,
who wanders through life dependent upon the kindness of strippers
and street hustlers. Finding himself in gay mans purgatory
after a disastrous high, hes obliged to plead his case
A rich costume piece set in seventeenth
century Mexico, Ave Maria tells the story of a woman well ahead
of her time.
An astronomer and cartographer, Maria lives
her life in fair comfort teaching priests in a rural monastery
until pressures from new arrivals from Toledo force her into
the Churchs mold of a well-behaved woman. Inspired by
a spiritual experience of her own, Maria sets off on a journey
that will lead her to unexpected heights.
Mr. Rices Secret
In Mr. Rices Secret, 12-year-old Owen
has Hodgkins Disease, and as hard as he tries to forget
it, he finds himself surrounded by reminders of his own mortality
from his sickly and clingy support group acquaintance,
Simon, to the creepy, omnipresent undertaker. Hes able
to keep his chin up, though, until his best friend, mentor and
neighbor Mr. Rice (played by David Bowie) dies suddenly.
Just when things cant get any worse,
he discovers a letter from Mr. Rice written in code that will
lead him on the ultimate treasure hunt.
Live Nude Girls Unite!
Live Nude Girls Unite! is a documentary
that follows Julia Query, lesbian/stand-up comedian/peepshow-stripper,
and daughter of a feminist activist, on her raucous journey
to help organize the only union of strippers in the United States.
Shot on a variety of formats, Live Nude
Girls Unite! weaves backstage and dancing footage with labor
organizing, street protests, stand-up comedy and comic-book
style "animation" making a sassy, intelligent and
dramatic cutting-edge film.
Me & Isaac Newton
Me & Isaac Newton is a documentary that
takes a look at the creative side of the scientific endeavor
through the hearts and minds of seven of the most distinguished
scientists of our time.
Directed by Michael Apted (Coal Miners
Daughter and the Seven Up series), it features Gertrude Elion,
Ashok Gadgil, Michio Kaku, Maja Mataric, Steven Pinker, Karol
Sikora and Patricia Wright, whose specialties run the gamut
from theoretical physics to pharmaceutical chemistry.
Coming to Light
Edward S. Curtis was a driven, charismatic,
obsessive artist: a pioneer photographer who set out at the
turn of the century to document Native American life before
it disappeared. Coming to Light, a documentary by Anne Makepeace
(Baby, Its You), tells the story of Curtis rise
from obscurity to national prominence, as he created a body
of work spanning 10,000 recordings, 40,000 photographs and a
full-length ethnographic motion picture.
Good Kurds, Bad Kurds
Filmmaker and photojournalist Kevin McKiernans
career has taken him to some of the worlds most troubled
regions, from Nicaragua to West Africa. His work, nominated
for a Pulitzer Prize, has been published by Time, Newsweek and
The New York Times.
But McKiernan discovered a story that the
national press wouldnt touch: a campaign of ethnic cleansing
perpetrated against the Kurdish minorities by the Turkish military
using US-manufactured weapons. With Good Kurds, Bad Kurds, McKiernans
independently produced film nine years in the making
he delves deeply into the US complicity in this human
My Mother Dreams the
Satans Disciples in New York
In addition to the complete program of features
and documentaries, the film festival also offers several programs
of short films that will screen over the course of the weekend.
Included in the programs is My Mother Dreams
the Satans Disciples in New York, which won the Academy
Award in the short film category last year. Its writer/director
Barbara Schock, is the first person in North Dakota to have
ever won an Oscar, and she based this script on a visit her
mother made to her while she was living in New York.
the Red Balloon
Another short, Revenge of the Red Balloon,
is an homage to the classic French film, The Red Balloon. Popped
so many years ago by a gang of rowdy little boys, the Balloon
is back, and this time hes armed with a vicious, prehensile
The Shangri-La Café
The Shangri-La Café is written and
directed by Lily Mariye, who plays nurse Lily Jarvik on the
NBC television series ER. The film is set in 1959 Las Vegas
a tumultuous time for everyone, especially the Takashi
family, who are forced to conceal their Japanese heritage by
pretending to be Chinese in the wake of World War II.
Angelica is pursued across the international
border by a mute trombonist in Greg Durbins Boundaries.
The strange musician takes up with the distraught young woman,
but has an unusual way of showing his affection.
Its the beginning of a love-hate saga
that goes beyond her wildest nightmares in this loose adaptation
of the Fernando Sorrentino short story El Hombre del Paraguas.