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Planet of the AIFF

By rebecca missel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 15, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

photo courtesy of Trina Lopez In "La Llorona," featured at the Arizona International Film Festival, this woman mistakes the "YMCA" dance for "YMCT." She's the "T."

Over the next 10 days, Tucsonans will have the opportunity to see the Zapatista army, several dysfunctional families, Cameron Diaz, and a monster whose libido is guided by the soul of Liberace.

No, it's not the lost days of Spring Fling. It's the Eighth Annual Arizona International Film Festival.

As a part of the programs brought to you by the Arizona Media Arts Center, the festival runs today through April 25 at several venues across Tucson, including shows at Gallagher Theatre this weekend.

Giulio Scalinger has been the festival's director since its inception. He believes his mission is to "help support independent filmmakers by bringing their films to audiences that otherwise might not see them."

Most people do not realize the formidable costs of making and distributing a film without the financial assistance of a studio. However, studios tend to squelch the creativity and artistic control a filmmaker has. Thus, many directors resort to releasing their works as independents.

"All independents struggle, it's a common denominator. None are truly mainstream," said Scalinger.

The Arizona International Film Festival runs today through April 25. Screenings are at the Screening Room, 127 E. Congress, Gallagher Theatre on the UA campus, and other local venues. For more information about all the films and workshops, call 62-FILMS or visit
In particular, the Arizona International Film Festival hopes to represent a plethora of genres and to bring together movies from across the globe. This year, featured movies come from Canada, Ireland, Iran, Germany, Australia, and the U.S. While the festival strives to have a worldly perspective, it also showcases the work of many local filmmakers.

Several UA students, alumni, and even a faculty member are involved with a film and video competition called "The Reel Frontier." The 82 finalists selected represent categories including narrative features and shorts, documentary features and shorts, and experimental and animation shorts.

Among the competitors is "La Llorona," directed by Trina Lopez, a graduate of the UA's media arts program. This film explores the Mexican legend of La Llorona ("The Weeping Woman") who, after losing her son, wanders through villages hunting small children. In addition to being a part of the Reel Frontier, "La Llorona" will also be featured during screenings for Cine Chicano.

Each year, the festival explores a different culture's cinema, and this year's focus is on the Chicano community. With a 32 percent Latino population in Tucson, Ruben Reyes believes the Cine Chicano program is important to the whole community. As a member of the Arizona Media Arts Center Board of Directors, Reyes has been pushing the envelope for independent Chicano films such as "La Llorona," and a documentary about the Zapatista uprising in Mexico, "A Place Called Chiapas." These movies offer an "alternative to Hollywood stereotypes," said Reyes. While the larger studios may be in filmmaking "for a buck, these people are in it for the love of cinema."

A highlight of the Cine Chicano program will be the presentation of the Arizona Independent Film Award to Edward James Olmos. The star of "American Me," and most recently, "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit," will receive the award as a result of his commitment to not only independent filmmaking, but also to the social problems of the Chicano community.

"He uses his celebrity to help people," said Reyes of the contributions Olmos has made.

The festival includes many other movies that you would not normally be able to see at the local theater on Saturday night, such as "Wicked," where a 14-year-old girl (played by Julia Stiles, who also recently appeared in "Ten Things I Hate About You") struggles with raging hormones, her adulterous family, and a mysterious murder in seemingly serene Southern California, and "Rock 'N' Roll Frankenstein," where a sleazy record producer wants to make the ultimate rock star by using the body parts of deceased performers.