The Fest Kept Secret: 30th Sedona International Film Festival 2024 Wrap Up Image

The Fest Kept Secret: 30th Sedona International Film Festival 2024 Wrap Up

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | May 16, 2024

Now this is how you fest! Beautiful weather at the end of February in one of the most gorgeous locales on the planet, with easy access to theaters as well as world-class food and lodgings. Why fest anywhere else during the winter season? You owe it to yourself to savor the Sedona International Film Festival, as the experience is almost like being inside a movie itself with its vortex visions in the red rocks.

Nestled in its own groovy spot a few hours north of Phoenix, Sedona immediately looks half-mythical once you turn the corner into it. It’s a struggle to believe you are right in the middle of a Western fairyland with deep roots in both old-brand cowboy culture and new-age crystal persuasion. Ready to cosmic cowboy up, Film Threat pulled into town on February 24th as the festival celebrated its 30th year. Weather…perfect as usual.

Michael Talbot-Haynes at the 2024 Sedona International Film Festival

Sedona treats its film festival like Green Bay treats its football team. The local support was astounding, with some audience members saying they had been attending for 25 years or more. It has maintained a classic style like faded denim, with that informed echo of true hippie ambiance lingering like the smell of patchouli on a head shop tie-dye. This was most apparent on the opening night, where prior to the Isle Of Hope screening, there was a surprise performance of an original song written about the film festival. In my three decades of festival-going, this was something I had never dreamed of before. Local couple Ted Turner, the guitarist for hard rocking 70s British rock band Wishbone Ash, played acoustic. At the same time, songwriter Majella sang the song, reflecting the dreams flickering in tandem on the screens. This was just like a lot of things in Sedona, where there is nothing else like it.

So here is where the other festivals during this time of year go wrong: miserable weather, no good food, impossible traffic between screening locations, and NO LEGAL MARIJUANA. Sedona International Film Festival gets everything right: by strategically placing all the screening locations in West Sedona, the festival-goers are able to get to all their movies with ease. The beautiful Alice Gill Sheldon and Mary D. Fisher theaters, with their breathtaking lobby mural, are located right across the street from the Sedona Harkins theaters for most screenings.

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