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Interview: Jason Carney Executive Director of the Phoenix Film Festival

The Phoenix Film Festival kicks off on August 12th and we were lucky enough to sit down with Jason Carney, Executive Director of the Phoenix Film Festival. The festival is taking great precautions to ensure everyone who attends is safe during the pandemic. As always, the festival has too many great films programmed to see so we wanted to find out what Jason recommends attendees check out.

To get tickets for the whole festival or specific films, go to Enjoy the interview with Jason Carney!

What do you want people to know about the safety precautions in place for this year's event?

We’ve done a few things as part of this. Our biggest change is not hosting parties and other events in our tent. We’ve scaled them back, eliminated them and they are being hosted by our sponsors in other venues. We’ll definitely miss the Party Pavilion this year. Another significant change is a switch to reserved seating. This will eliminate grouping people together in lines and allow them to sit when they’re ready and they can choose their seats based on their comfort level. Our staff and volunteers will be required to wear masks unless they're vaccinated. I still anticipate that many will wear masks even if they are vaccinated. We also work closely with our theatre partner, Harkins Theatres, who have put many precautions in place and we’ll continue to follow their lead.

What is one of the new events this year that you want people to know about?

Filmmaker Conversations. This is a new event that’s an alternative to panel discussions. We will be having a group of three filmmakers tackle specific film industry topics in a more casual environment. Giving audience members an opportunity to hear a more in-depth conversation than panels can offer.

What are five films you are excited for people to see this year at the festival?

1 - Coda, our Opening Night Film - This film was a gigantic hit at Sundance and when I was looking for an Opening Night Film, it was my first draft pick. I’m very excited to have this great film that deals with children of deaf adults (CODA). It’s a perfect opener.

2 – Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – If CODA is a perfect opener for us, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is easily a perfect closer. A music-centered film about acceptance that is a great crowd please is an amazing way to close up this year’s festival. I’ve watched this trailer at least a dozen times.

3 – Give or Take – I really enjoyed this comedy/drama about a man who goes home after his father dies, to prepare the house for sale while sharing it with his father's temperamental live-in boyfriend. The ensemble cast is great and there are so many funny and tender moments in this film that might not be on your radar.

4 – A Shot Through the Wall – This film deals with a situation in which an Asian-American police officer accidentally shoots a black teen through a wall. It’s a very timely drama that moves briskly and boasts a fantastic ensemble cast.

5 – Far East, Deep South – In a festival with so many good documentaries, I had to add one to this list. This one follows a Chinese immigrant and his family as they travel from California to Mississippi to find answers about his father. This personal story offers emotional payoffs and important lessons about Chinese immigrants between the 1900s and 1950s.


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