Category Archives: conventions

Phoenix Film Festival Winners

After 7 days of intense movie-going, it feels strange to not be in a theater. The 2012 Phoenix Film Festival was a ton of fun, and I’m definitely going back next year. That much awesomeness should not be missed!

Let me recap the experience before I unleash a series of micro-reviews on each event. 28 events is a lot to critique! Friday through Sunday were marathon days, 8-15 hours each day. Monday through Thursday was less intense, but it still seemed like a job – an enjoyable one, no doubt. But alas, it’s over now and it’s back to the grind of a real job and now… the writeups. It is a bit daunting, but I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.

Harkins Scottsdale 101 was the location, and it was really a great venue. I ended up buying a Loyalty Shirt, entitling me to a free popcorn at each movie. Popcorn became a meal replacement every day. The flavored powders helped… The Cine Capri hosted several feature films and seeing movies on the big screen never disappoints. Lots of local sponsors gave out swag and hosted events. Chipotle represented with recycle bags made from billboards – pretty sweet. They also handed out free burrito vouchers during the screening of “Fresh”. Independent Feature Project: Phoenix (aka IFP Phoenix) hosted a bunch of educational features for kids and teens as well as wrangled some film makers & their crew into doing some seminars. The biggest impact on me was hearing everyone discuss their experiences in working with their teams. Teamwork is essential, and assembling a great crew is no easy task. However, more people are involved in indie film work, with skilled and talented folks popping up everywhere. Don’t overlook the next film geniuses!

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PFF Documentary Shorts

We kicked off our time at the Phoenix Film Festival with their Documentary Shorts presentation. It’s always a gamble with shorts, but I love seeing them. If they’re bad, they’re over quickly and if they’re good, you are getting a bunch of them! I like experiencing the work of many talented artists, but sometimes it can be a chore sifting through them for the diamond in the rough. So throughout the Festival I’ve opted to see shorts in most cases unless it conflicts with a feature I REALLY want to see – which was many, write-ups to come in the next few days as I find time between screenings.

The Documentary Shorts features four powerful narratives showcasing the lives of real people and places. The 2012 lineup includes: Kaziah the Goat Woman, Sacred Poison, Randy Parsons: American Luthier, and My Caddy Won’t Let Me, four very professionally done short documentaries.

Kaziah the Goat Woman

2008. Directed by Amy Duzinski Janes. 40 minutes.

Kaziah the Goat Woman features artist and polygamy escapee Kaziah Hancock. Born on the prairie, she owes her life to the goat that nursed her when her mother could not, and has spent her life being a caretaker and protector of these ruminants on her Utah ranch. Her heart goes out not only to the goats and chickens in her life, but also her fellow humans, especially the families of fallen soldiers. Kaziah paints the portraits, for free, of service members killed in action as a show of support to their loved ones. Her organization, Project Compassion has painted over 3,500 portraits, over 950 painted by Kaziah herself.

The documentary features interviews of Kaziah telling her story of life, love and death in Utah, and tags along in her daily life. Throughout the film, we see her paint, start to finish, a portrait of a fallen soldier based off a photograph sent by the family.

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Phoenix Film Festival Starts… Now

Good news, People of Earth!

Lucky old me scored some passes to the Phoenix Film Festival – all thanks to Bookmans Entertainment Exchange! I won a contest they held as part of their Ticket Tuesday series of rewarding loyal fans and customers. Actually, there were pretty high odds of winning – less than 20 entries with only 10 winners so it was more than 50-50. So be sure to keep an eye on Bookmans!

What this means for you is that I will be kicking ass and taking names… make that just writing up some reviews for the films if my ferret-like memory will allow me to remember anything about whatever. I am, however, an expert note-jotter which got me through decades of schooling.

The Phoenix Film Festival is celebrating its 12th year in 2012. My math wizardry tells me this event is as old as the 21st century! So yeah, it’s something to be proud of. Showing over 150 films a year, the Phoenix Film Fest goes on for 8 days and truly requires a trooper such as I to experience every minute. This year, they have returned to Harkins Scottsdale 101 to spread the madness and hedonism…as well as art and culture for the more refined folk.

I won’t be attending tonight as I’m not a platinum or VIP member, so no opening night gala nor any Robot & Frank, which looks super awesome and I’m kinda bummed.

Here is a short selection of what I am planning to see (subject to ticket availability):

Hollywood to Dollywood
It’s In The Blood
Monster Brawl

…and that’s just on Friday!!!

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Game of Thrones Comic-Con Coverage

So here’s the situation: You are a dedicated George R. R. Martin fan, love the Game of Thrones HBO show, and think that Peter Dinklage is the most awesome person on the planet. You also don’t have tickets to San Diego’s Comic-Con, where the icons of your fandom will be during the next 4 days, mostly because it was sold out months before they announced any GRRM/GoT stuff and, and, and… waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

If you are one of those 6.9 billion people who aren’t going to Comic-Con this year, there is still hope for a peek at the Game of Thrones panel. HBO Connect is holding a live commentary during the event. I’m not sure if it’s going to have audio, video, or just a bunch of tweets, but at least it’s something for us beggars. At least until fan footage shows up on YouTube.

You can also sign up for the Game of Thrones event on Facebook. It starts 6PM ET/3PM PT and lasts about an hour.


Winter-is-Coming goes boots-on-the-ground! WiC will be MEGA live blogging from the Game of Thrones panel and aggregating tweets and photos! Oh, the things they do for love.

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Game of Thrones at Comic-Con: GoT Panel Announced!

The San Diego Comic-Con has something totally sweet this year! A Game of Thrones Panel, featuring THE MAN himself, George R. R. Martin (author of series A Song of Ice and Fire), co-creator & writer David Benioff, AND AND AND the incredibly awesome Peter Dinklage, who plays “the Imp” Tyrion Lannister.

Also appearing for the Game of Thrones panel will be Kit Harrington (“the bastard” Jon Snow), Jason Momoa (“my sun and stars” Khal Drogo), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“the Kingslayer” Jaime Lannister) and Emilia Clarke (“moon of my life” Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen). More panelists may be announced. GRRM is special guest moderator for the panel, as is appropriate. It is known.

The San Diego Comic-Con GoT panel will be Thursday, July 21st. Time TBD.

Rumor has it they are holding off casting announcements for important roles in Season 2, which begins filming July 25th. Yes, a mere 4 days after their Comic-Con Panel! Who knows what will happen.

(I won’t be going. Sold out. Pissed? Upset? Sulky? Yep, got my crankypants on.)

Source: @Westeros and @GameofThrones both tweeted about this event.

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Phoenix Comicon 2011: Con Report!

This was my first ever comic book convention.

However, I’ve been going to anime conventions since 2001. How do they compare? There is a lot of overlap. A ton of anime cosplay along with Ghostbusters, Wil Wheaton, Stan Lee (you heard right!) and The Nimoy. Seriously, they got Leonard Nimoy to come to Phoenix! I didn’t see him, because they kept him under lock and key and chained to the exhibitor’s hall.

This convention had top-notch scheduling. We didn’t experience any programming mishaps or many technical snafus. Staff was friendly and helpful; picking up our badges on Thursday night was probably the quickest and easiest experience ever. The breadth of the programming was impressive as well, there was something for every genre: comics, anime, AMVs, manga, webcomics, movies, horror (OMG zombies!), gaming, cosplay, kid’s fun, music and not to mention TONS of guests.

Phoenix Convention Center: Phoenix Comicon 2011

"Art is a guaranty of sanity" - so are cons!

The Phoenix Convention Center is a fantastic venue. After years going to small hotels for local anime cons, this was a noticeable change of pace. While there are challenges inherent to Downtown Phoenix (namely pricey parking, for those not rooming at the host venue), the location is centralized and convenient. (I do admit bias, as Downtown is easily accessible via freeway from my home – didn’t even take much gas going back and forth 4 days in a row.) The Convention Center is only a few years old, and it stood up to the onslaught of con-goers easily. The rooms were spacious, well-equipped and comfortable. No issues hearing panelists in the back of the rooms.

There were convenient food & drink establishments, ATMs and other amenities appreciated at a con. So much better than other locations for local conventions!

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Confessions of an AniZona 3 Survivor

Wow. AniZona 3 was… sloppy. On the scale of WTF? sloppy.

My biggest draws to an anime convention are 1) the AMV contest, 2) panels and 3) video showings.

I’m not a huge cosplay fan, but I do enjoy a well-done costume. I loved the Kingdom Hearts cosplayers with the really cool keys! So I usually don’t goto the Masquerades, unless there’s no line or no ticketing needed. I hear this one bombed.

This year, I had a big gripe with the re-scheduling of events and panels without any real notice.

The AMV contest was rescheduled at 5 instead of 3 on Friday, and I was OK with that. I know things had to accommodate the earlier than expected closing of the Convention Center (we all needed to be out by midnight or Fines would ensue). However, the AMV contest ended up starting at 4 instead of the re-schedule that was posted on the door of the theatre. I think this left a lot of people confused to say the least. This affected the people who showed up and voted… There was a reshowing on Saturday, which was good, but not everyone knew this.

Those doing panels were rescheduled without anyone contacting the presenters… We (me, Shawn and Gina) had first hand experience with this, and so it ended up just being me and Gina doing the panel. Our panel was misnamed, had the wrong description and at the wrong time in all of the programming guides (there were two, both wrong). When we inquired about who to see about the info being all wrong in the guide, the response was “How do you even know it’s your panel?” Hr hr hr!…not funny. The programming guides were just wrong about everything, the “real” schedules were posted in one location and changed throughout the day.

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