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Loft Film Fest in Midtown leans in on local amid actors' strike

Going Varsity in Mariachi.jpg
Posted at 12:53 PM, Oct 11, 2023

With 45 full-length and short film programs, there is no shortage of things you can watch and enjoy at this year's Loft Film Fest.

The event, running Oct. 11-19, covers a wide swath of programming. You can watch gun-slinging cowboys battling it out in the "town to tough to die" on one day, and a film based on West African mermaids the next.

The on-screen offerings are plentiful.

The guest roster, not so much.

This year's Hollywood writers' and actors' strikes led to several guest cancellations, according to Loft program director Jeff Yanc.

"I didn't anticipate it being a problem since we are a smaller festival," Yanc said. "To get one actor, the director of the film was able to get a waiver from the Screen Actors Guild so they could both come. It was really complicated. I never had to navigate that before."

The guest setbacks have given Loft organizers a chance to put a more local spin on this year's fest, by scheduling films either made by Tucsonans or covering topics important to the Tucson community.

"When you have guests, the guests dictate what films you are going to show," Yanc said. "With fewer guests, we were able to book more local films."

Among the local offerings:

  • "Going Varsity in Mariachi" - While the documentary, following a high school mariachi ensemble, is set in South Texas, "Tucson is one of the centers of mariachi in the country," Yanc said.

    The doc will open the festival tonight, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m., and the screening will include an opening night party at 5 with performances from Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School and Mariachi Las Aguilitas de Davis from Davis Bilingual Elementary.

  • "Tombstone" - The Loft is celebrating the 30th anniversary of this quintessential '90s Western, starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, with a 35mm screening of the film on Sunday, Oct. 15. "Tombstone" was almost entirely filmed in Southern Arizona, at locations, such as Old Tucson and the Mescal Movie Set, in Cochise County.
  • "Coronado: The New Evidence" - Tucson resident and veteran journalist Frances Causey looks at the recent revelations on where explorer Francisco Vazquez de Coronado first crossed into what would become the continental United States. Hint: The discovery was made in Tucson's backyard. The documentary screens on Saturday, Oct. 14.
  • "EarthBound USA" - Produced in Tucson, "EarthBound USA" looks at a group of American teens whose love for a largely overlooked Super Nintendo game, "EarthBound" goes above and beyond.

Yanc said several films that don't have direct connections to Tucson will have live panels with local participants to speak on themes and topics.
The Loft always strives for director parity (half men and half women) with its film fest choices, Yanc said. There is also a strong emphasis on indigenous films and filmmakers this year.

Screening take place at The Loft, 3233 E. Speedway. For a full schedule of films being screened, visit The Loft website.