Phoenix Film Festival: Films That Build a Community

Executive Director Jason Carney tells us how the Phoenix Film Festival has impacted Arizona's culture and why the community is so important.

A Festival for Arizona’s Film Community  

Founded in 2001, the Phoenix Film Festival had a simple goal – to bring cinema lovers together in one place. While the festival lives in Phoenix, films come in from all over the world, and there are well over 1400 submissions, both long and short, spanning every genre imaginable. Phoenix has a blossoming film community, one that has made the annual film festival a huge event, spanning 11 days and involving over 250 volunteers that make it all happen. While people from all over the world will submit their films, the Phoenix Film Festival focuses on Arizona, nurturing local talent to see the community grow.

Executive Director Jason Carney knows firsthand how important the Arizona community is to the film festival and the impact people have on making it a success. “We rely so heavily on the community to support our efforts,” he explains. And the proof is there, with 300 screenings at the last festival, 70 of the films sold out – that kind of attendance is unprecedented in a local film festival.

The film industry is an art form; going to see films is a cultural endeavor.

Recognizing the Artists 

Jason is a rare breed, he’s an Arizona native. Although he worked in healthcare for 15 years, Jason always preferred theater and spent his free time volunteering at the festival. In 2005, he took a leap – he quit his job and volunteered full time, pursuing his real love of film. Over the years, he was able to grow and develop his now current position as executive director. Now, 13 years later, Jason is fully engrossed in making the Phoenix Film Festival an expansive and inclusive community of parties, workshops, and artwork.

Jason talks about how the Phoenix Film Festival has greatly impacted the culture in Arizona. “There are so many artists that contribute to making a film! Everything from the film to the music, to the animation, it’s all art.” Making films is a way to express feelings and emotions, thoughts and ideas – it’s no surprise that so many people want to be involved in such a passion-driven endeavor.

Arizona’s culture is a diverse and independent community, with space for people to be who they are and express themselves. A big part of Arizona’s diversity is because of the lack of natives. So many people have come from other places because of the opportunities here, it’s no surprise the film industry followed.

Of course, the Phoenix Film Festival experiences its fair share of challenges, one of them being event promotion and getting the word out. But Jason isn’t worried. The community’s love for cinema and commitment to providing a platform to showcase films, art, and music will keep the festival a continuing pillar in the cinematic landscape of Arizona.

Phoenix Film Festival

7000 E Mayo Blvd #1059
Phoenix 85054