Tucson filmmaker Alan Williams didnt plan on making a followup to his film

8,000 Ft Up

until people demanded it.

At an audience screening, the feedback we got about it afterwards, we were joking about doing a sequel and the audience was like no no no we want to find out what happened beforehand. Williams says. And then I couldnt sleep for weeks and I came up with this idea so we did the prequel.

Williams 10 Ft Down is one of the 125 films from 20 countries showing at the 32nd annual Arizona International Film Festival

The festival runs April 17 to April 28, with many of the films showing at the Screening Room downtown. Some films will be playing at the Mercado Annex, such as opening night feature

Cafe Daughter


Its the oldest film festival in the state and has been a top 100 best reviewed film festival worldwide for eight years running, according to FilmFreeway

The acclaim comes from its selection of unique films, but also its approach to the creators.

Were a filmmakers festival, says Mia Schnaible, Director of Marketing and Development for the AZ International Film Festival. We like to make the filmmakers welcome. So when theyre here, they become part of the family.

Schnaible has been involved with the festival since 2003, starting as a volunteer. she says that the festival has been a way for her to learn about the world.

You can learn about issues that you never knew existed, she says.

These issues include rhino poaching, highlighted in the film Rhino Man

Or human trafficking, the subject of Tucson filmmaker Steve Anderson’s Room 107. The film focuses on a middle-class, teenage girl manipulated by a trafficker and shows a more realistic side of the issue.

It isnt always just a case of grab somebody and kidnap and go and traffic them, Anderson says of his film Theyre actually working a relationship.

Along with feature films and shorts, the festival also features workshops and panels, including Q&A sessions following screenings. 

Schnaible says that so far about 60 filmmakers are in town for the event, including

Reservation Dogs

actor Jon Proudstar, who will host an event on April 17 and sign copies of his comic book

Tribal Force

The Arizona International Film Festival kicks off Wednesday, April 17 and runs until April 28.

Films and showtimes can be found on the festivals website.