Visual, Literary and Performing Arts

A Sneak Preview of the "Reel" Thing



The “reel” thing focuses on the fine art of independent filmmaking

by Catherine J. Rourke

February, 2008


Forget HBO, Showtime and edited-for-content television movies. Serious film fans and cinema gurus are flocking to Red Rock Country, where the Sedona International Film Festival & Workshop is moving to center stage as one of the top film festivals both nationwide and around the globe.


What sprang from humble beginnings more than a decade ago with a group of volunteers has evolved into an independent organization - much like the productions it spotlights. Now entering its teen years, the festival has fast-forwarded to a billing among the industry's top 20, world-class film gatherings.


Motivated by a passion for the art of film rather than box office receipts, the festival showcases the finest creations of independent filmmakers whose efforts might not have ever made it to the big screen. Its focus on broad range of signature works and progressive styles serves as the creative backbone for independent films of every variety, duration and format.


What’s in store this year? Count on big-name appearances and hearty helpings of cutting-edge cinema not always found on video store aisles.


With commitments to attend from top-billing filmmakers, movie producers and other Hollywood personalities, 35 jurors across Arizona and an honorary jury from the St. Louis International Film Festival are screening 1,000 films to choose the final 135 for the annual Sedona International Film Festival and Workshop.


Preview nights for the event are planned leading up to the five full days of the festival that is growing in both size and stature. 


Special features

The festival kicks off with a Wednesday night preview party at the Festival Pavilion.  Films will be screened at the Harkins Theater in Sedona on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Just pick a flick and settle into an aisle eat to experience some of the most riveting and intriguing productions, many of which have won industry accolades, from features and documentaries to shorts and animation.


A Friday night "Cast Party"  at the Hilton Sedona Resort & Spa brings together filmmakers, cast and crew members, celebrity guests, festival sponsors and film lovers for a gala party and presentation of awards to festival honorees.


On Sunday, the Audience Choice, Director’s Choice and Best of the Fest awards will be presented at the Festival Awards Brunch at L’Auberge de Sedona. These award-winners will be brought back for additional screenings on Sunday.


In addition to the signature galas, many smaller gatherings will give film lovers a chance to talk and party with others who share their passion.


New workshops and venues

Several changes this year include scheduling a series of small workshops in the public pavilion “so the public can interact with filmmakers and learn about what it takes to create, market and distribute,” said Sedona International Film Festival Executive Director Patrick Schweiss.  “The Wells Fargo Pavilion was a tremendous success last year because it provided a great venue to learn, relax, mingle with others and discuss the incredible lineup of films.  We plan to use it for even more events during the week this year.”


Also new is the addition of another screening venue “to allow us to show the more popular films more often,” Schweiss said of the auditorium at Sedona Red Rock High School at 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road. The festival’s main location is the Harkins Sedona 6 Luxury Cinema at 2081 West Highway 89A.


The Sedona International Film Festival will offer cash prizes of at least $51,000 to filmmakers for excellence in features, documentaries, shorts, animation and foreign films.

Filmmakers can receive prize awards of between $5,000 and $10,000. Awards will be determined by a panel of judges based on a set of criteria, which includes screenplay, production design, cinematography, acting, directing and editing.


The cash prizes will be in addition to non-cash Audience Choice and Directors’ Choice awards, which have been given at each of the 13 previous Sedona festivals. The $51,000 has been generously donated by Linda K. and Herb Smith, Connie and Jerry Levinson and eSedona Wireless.


When movie fans need a little downtime at the Sedona International Film Festival and Workshop, they’ll be able to relax and refresh to free live music performed by 13 acts and 25 musicians from across northern Arizona in the Festival Tent.


A community effort

But the event itself isn't the only feature attraction. Rather, it represents a collective effort of the Sedona community to create a year-round celebration of film, encouraging both visitors and residents to enjoy a unique art form as part of their "Sedona Experience."


In fulfilling their mission "to bring people together to broaden the understanding and celebrate the power of independent film through cinema and the Sedona Experience," Pat Schweiss, the festival’s executive director, and his team of organizers devote significant time to singling out only the very best productions.


As a nonprofit organization, the festival relies on community partnerships, with sponsors, donors and volunteers joining together to celebrate the inspiring power of film. According to Schweiss, event attendance takes no back-row seat to financial contributions in furthering the group's mission.


For those weary from the bevy of Hollywood sequels fixated on blood, brawn and bosom or hungry for more than eye candy and weak plots, the festival offers a treasure trove of fascinating films that will delight any movie buff. Above all, it’s an exhilarating opportunity to mingle with both filmmakers and movie lovers and share the heartfelt experience that broadens our view of the world and of each other.


Popcorn, anyone?



Call (928) 282-1177 for more information or visit www.sedonafilmfestival.com.

Catherine Rourke edits and produces the Observer. E-mail editor@SedonaObserver.com. 

Literary Arts - Book Reviews and Local Authors



Today's Grandparents Preserve Yesterday's Ties

... a new book tells us how



Reviewed by Susan Stewart


The American nuclear family, as defined by the iconic Leave It To Beaver and other television sitcoms during the 1950s and ‘60s is—more than half a century later—the exception rather than the rule.


High rates of divorce, the emergence of “blended” families, single and same gender parenting, as well as a much more mobile society, have all contributed to a dramatic redefinition of family. And the “extended” family as we once knew it—those eccentric aunts, feisty uncles, quirky cousins, and beloved grandparents who used to live nearby—has all but disappeared.


Today’s grandparents are traversing entirely new territory, both literally and figuratively. And the distances can be daunting.


Long-Distance Grandparenting, Connecting with your Grandchildren from Afar offers a sturdy bridge for the many modern grandparents left wondering how they will adjust to this ever-shifting landscape. An award-winning author and grandmother for some 25 years who lives in the Village of Oak Creek, Willma Willis Gore has written a book that is entertaining, informative, practical, and poignant.


“All grandparenting experiences are not created equal,” writes Gore in the introduction. “Grandparents sometimes become rivals. Money can be scarce, time and transportation can be problems. Schedules conflict.” So Gore interviewed dozens of grandparents, their children and grandchildren and infused every chapter with their stories, often quoting them directly.  


Ten well-titled chapters, anecdotes with headings and a comprehensive resources section steer the reader easily toward the most helpful sections. How does one, for example, deal with the concept of “rules” when parents and grandparents differ? Chapter 2, titled “Rules for Grandparents, Parents, and Grandkids” offers sound, effective guidelines.

What about the murky waters of giving advice? Try Chapter 4, “Risks and Rewards of Grandparent Advice.” What happens when grandchildren move overseas? One anecdote is headed, “When the Split Takes the Grandchild Far Away.”


The practical importance of thank-yous, the reinvention of letter-writing and the magic of the Internet are explored. And a special chapter just for men offers often-neglected grandfathers unique methods for cultivating special ties beyond the usual fishing, fixing, and phoning.


The author also addresses the less tangible aspects of long-distance grandparenting, such as understanding that perfection is an impractical goal, that change is the only constant, and that knowing when to say “no” is crucial to preserving honest, loving relationships


Clashing grandparents, truculent teens, confusing messages and sibling rivalry are all discussed, with practical, inventive and thorough advice for each. Never preachy and far from sappy, Long-Distance Grandparenting is written with brevity, humor and heart.

Its inclusive approach does not judge or even opine; rather it illustrates the many faces of grandparents today and addresses the change with stoic optimism.


Real-life solutions from authentic situations are the hallmark of this charming book. Long-Distance Grandparenting gives readers the feeling that anyone can find creative ways to establish and sustain a loving connection with their grandchildren—preserving and protecting one precious and irreplaceable relationship in the ever-changing face of the American family.


To order your copy, visit www.amazon.com or contact Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc. at 559-876-2170.


Long-Distance Grandparenting, Connecting with Your Grandchildren from Afar

Copyright © 2008 by Willma Willis Gore

ISBN 1-884956-75-0


Author Conducts Workshops for Writers

Author Willma Gore will lead an ongoing series of workshops for aspiring and experienced writers alike, with a new meeting location for 2008. 


High Hopes meets on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Sedona Winds Retirement Center, 405 Jacks Canyon Road in the Village of Oak Creek.

Village Writers meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.  Serious Scribes meet at 10 a.m. on the 2nd and 4th Mondays, in the same location.

“We meet in the library or in the card room, depending on which is available.  Both are on the second floor and I am at the elevator and top of stair for each meeting to greet members as they arrive and direct them to the proper location on the mezzanine of Sedona Winds,” Gore said.

For available spaces and more information, call Willma at 928-284-2703, or e-mail her at willmagore@msn.com

































Canyon Moon Theater

Past, Present and Future

By Marjorie Muro


Canyon Moon Theatre presented years of fine performances in the space adjacent to the New Frontiers Market in West Sedona. When circumstances changed and that location was no longer available, Canyon Moon took the show on the road.

For one full year, plays were presented at the Sedona Creative Life Center, Red Rock High School, and any vacant spaces available. Volunteers and performers were always available to work under less-than-desirable circumstances.

Remember Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me? This program was presented in a vacant storefront with electricity turned on just hours before the first performance began. The audience came; the volunteers did what they could; and the show was one of the best received of the season.

The media always informed the public where the next show would be presented. These patient reporters and broadcasters made the sometimes tremendous effort to get the reviews and information out in a timely manner.


Mary Guaraldi, the determined theater director who kept everyone focused, expresses her appreciation to those who made it all possible. Many business owners provided financial assistance and encouragement when things looked the bleakest.

This was strengthened by the hundreds of Season Subscribers and individual donors who wrote checks to Canyon Moon when many others did not believe that the theater could exist under such difficult circumstances.

Bills were paid from ticket purchases and donations by loyal followers, donors, sponsors and advertisers paid the bills. Their generosity will never be forgotten.  


Then the opportunity arose to acquire a space for a long-term theater location. Again, the volunteers, donors, subscribers, sponsors, advertisers and media showed up to make it a reality. 

Canyon Moon Theatre opened the doors of its new home in October 2006, thanks to the support of many community individuals and agencies.  Canyon Moon finally has a place to store props, exhibit art, create sets and, most importantly, focus on the plays, music, poetry and the artists who present them.


Season X will conclude with the following performances in 2008:

March 6-30 The Immigrant: A true story about two Eastern European Jews who immigrated to a small Texas town in 1909 and found friendship in an unexpected place.

April 5 Masks and Myths: Performance art for children of all ages by Will Clipman.

April 10-May 4  Affluenza: A dazzling display of wit and word play on the subjects of love and money.

May 15-June 8 Meshuggah-Nuns: A fast-paced, funny show results when the Little Sisters of Hoboken set out to sea on a hilarious trip.


If things progress as desired, there will be a permanent Canyon Moon Theatre located in the new Cultural Park in a few years. The Sedona City Council, city staff and the Planning & Zoning Commission have paved the way for the next step in reaching that dream for our community. 

We are working with Fitch Industries on the deed for the land. The design process is underway; and plans are in progress for fundraising.  Many sincere thanks go out to all of you who have made this theater possible. You should be proud!


As Mary Guaraldi so eloquently stated: “In the darkness of the theater, a community is created that ties artists and audiences together – recognizing our common needs, exploring our differences and attempting to arrive at a sense of truth that means our time has been well spent.  

"Theater is a companion through the difficult terrain of life.  It gives people gifts as concrete as the healing of laughter and as spiritual as the epiphany of understanding.   It brings people from different backgrounds, ages and lives together.  It allows us to share our sameness and explore our differences.   It helps our children.  It helps us.”


Join the merry crowds at Canyon Moon Theatre at Oak Creek Factory Outlets in the Village of Oak Creek. 

For more information, call (928) 282-6212.  For tickets, visit the Web site at  www.canyonmoontheatre.org or call the Brown Paper Tickets 24-hour Hotline at 1-800- 838-3006.

Available at: Marketplace Cafe and Rycus' Corners, in the Village of Oak Creek, Clothing Reflections, next to Bashas' and on the Web site at www.CanyonMoonTheatre.org.


Ticket Hotline: 1-800-838-3006

Canyon Moon Theatre is supported by the Sedona Community Foundation,

the Sedona Arts & Culture Commission and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.


















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Wood Specialist


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