As the 23rd annual Sedona International Film Festival enters its final weekend only a few more days remain to see some of the great films that are being offered this year.

There are more than 200 volunteers at the festival, nearly all of whom are our friends and neighbors working shifts all around town to make sure visiting and local filmgoers enjoy their experience and that the festival goes off without a hitch.

Some work the box office, others are ticket-takers at the theaters, also handing out and collecting ballots from filmgoers. Bedecked in her costumes and iconic feathered hats, Martha Edwards has been working the rush line, helping fill last-minute open seats at Harkins Theatres.

Others served as film screeners, reviewing the several thousand films submitted and whittling them down to the 160 that have been shown on screens this week.

Some are working as parking lot attendants, making sure the businesses that donate space to the festival can still provide parking for regular customers.

The SIFF board and Executive Director Patrick Schweiss donate their time to address audiences before each screening and conduct the question-and-answer sessions after the lights come up.
Still others are students from Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University assisting public relations guru Steve Carr with promotion and social media while earning credits at their respective educational institutions.

Residents can also take advantage of Sedona Red Rock High School’s Sedona Performing Arts Center, a taxpayer-funded public facility built specifically for big city events like SIFF screenings and concert performances.

Aside from that, there are hundreds of waiters and chefs at local restaurants providing the food and drink donated by their restaurants for the filmmakers, actors, sponsors and priority pass holders, making sure these primarily out-of-towners eat some of the best food Sedona has to offer.

Local resorts and hotels have donated hundreds of rooms so that filmmakers have a place to rest and can focus their energies entirely on speaking about their films to the residents who come to their screenings.

There are also dozens of individual and business sponsors, donating tens of thousands of dollars to pay for advertising and promotion, offsetting production costs and helping the festival run smoothly.

SIFF is the de facto city festival of Sedona. While the screenings are limited to three venues and the galas take place at eight locations, the positive economic effects ripple throughout the city.

Many of the filmmakers take some time off from the festival to see what Sedona has to offer. I personally have recommended to some of these curious visitors about a dozen different trails, a handful of restaurants and other sights to see, tours to take and things to do.

All these extra bodies means more direct spending at local businesses and tax revenue for the city as a whole, while simultaneously adding the cultural experience that makes Sedona a great place to call home.

If you attend the festival in these last few days, please take a moment to thank the volunteers, board members and sponsors for offering their time and money to help make the Sedona International Film Festival a great experience for us all.