The Sedona International Film Festival is just a day away.
For the next 10 days, Sedona will be awash in films and movie talk and as filmmakers, actors, directors and producers become tourists in our red rock city.
Based on previous years, around 10,000 moviegoers will attend the festival, which has blossomed over the last 22 years into one of the premier independent film festivals in the country. While many moviegoers are locals from Sedona and the Verde Valley, many more are from Flagstaff, Prescott and the Phoenix area while a few thousand more arrive from around the country, either coming for the festival itself or working their otherwise normal vacation to our area around a movie or two.
Many come to meet their favorite actors and filmmakers who come to promote their films and answer questions from the audience. This year’s lineup includes two “M*A*S*H” actors, Mike Farrell, who will be performing a one-man play “Dr. Keeling’s Curve,” and Elliott Gould, who will receive a lifetime achievement award; multimedia tributes to Gene Kelly, hosted by his wife, and
Don Knotts, hosted by his daughter; and live musical performances by singer Roslyn Kind and the band Chicago.
Many of these filmmakers are scheduled for exclusive interviews with my staff, a few of which have already appeared in this week’s issues. More will come as the film festival moves along.
After a positive experience in Sedona at the film festival, many filmmakers and guests return again and again on personal vacation or for future film festivals. Every year at the galas and in line at the theaters I see out-of-towners I recognize from previous years.
All those filmmakers and movie lovers in the city are a huge economic engine as they stay at our hotels and resorts, eat at our restaurants, drink at our bars, hike our trails, visit art our galleries, and shop at our stores for groceries in West Sedona or tourist knickknacks in Uptown. We residents reap the benefits as business owners, retail store clerks, restaurant servers and artists as well as benefiting from the tax revenue these 10,000 guests generate for our city.
Whether you attend every gala and make Harkins Theatres, the Mary D. Fisher Theatre and the Sedona Performing Arts Center your second homes for the next 10 days, or don’t see a single film, we all become tour guides to these friendly strangers we bump into. They pass the word on to friends and family in Hollywood, New York City, Tuscaloosa and even North Haverbrook that Sedona is a beautiful place to visit filled with friendly locals.
Street traffic will be thicker, so plan accordingly, but know all the extra visitors spend money in Sedona to keep our economy moving and generate tax revenue to repair our streets, pay for our police department, maintain city services and fund grants to nonprofits and arts organizations long after the festival has ended.
To the filmmakers and out-of-town movie lovers, welcome to Sedona. We hope you enjoy your brief stay as much as we enjoy living here. If you need directions or recommendations about where to eat, shop or hike, feel free to ask. Enjoy your stay.
Now, let the projectors roll.