Fun with film

I rarely pause to consider what life might be like as a lottery winner. It’s rather a moot point since I’m not much of a player, but something I read the other day got me to thinking. If I had extra time and money on my hands, how might I want to spend it?

Reading more books. Giving to favorite causes. Traveling the globe. These things have long been on my wish list. But something else now strikes my fancy — exploring the wonderful world of film festivals.

I could start close to home with the Scottsdale Film Festival — taking place this year from Oct 1 to Oct 5 at Harkins Camelview Theatre near Scottsdale Fashion Square, a longtime movie theater favorite for me and my kids (who all favor somewhat out of the ordinary fare).

The festival actually kicks off Friday evening with an opening film, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” followed by an opening night party. Festival offerings include Arizona premieres and Oscar contenders, as well as three “spotlight on Mexico” films and four “spotlight on France” films.

Scottsdale also is home to a festival-style experience termed “Talk Cinema.” It’s a film series presented at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and the 2010-2011 series kicks off Oct 19. All films are shown on Tuesday evenings at 7pm in their Virginia G. Piper Theater.

“Talk Cinema” film selections are kept under wraps until “shortly before each screening” and viewers have the option of going online to read a “spoiler” ahead of time or attending without knowing what to expect. All screenings are followed by moderated conversations with distinguished critics, and viewers get to write their own film reviews.

Paradise Valley Community College presents “Film Festival at PVCC” — a series of film events held monthly (Wednesday evenings at 6:0pm). The next film they’ll show is the 1985 Swedish movie titled “My Life as a Dog” — a PG-13 flick scheduled for Sept 29 at the PVCC Center for the Performing Arts.

PVCC also will present films from Germany, France, Norway and other countries — as well as two PVCC Student Film Festivals during the academic year. Student film festivals — scheduled for Dec 10 and May 9 — take place at 7:30pm and admission is free.

The Arizona Humanities Council presents “The Paul Espinosa Border Film Festival” on Saturday, Oct 2, from 4pm-10pm in Yuma. The free event, which explores “the dynamics of southwestern border history and culture,” features three award-winning films.

This festival takes place at the Yuma Arts Center and historic Yuma theatre. Films are introduced by filmmaker Paul Espinosa and followed by a discussion with experts and the filmmaker.

Finally, a film I wish every parent would see — the documentary “Race to Nowhere,” to be shown Nov 9 at 4:30pm and 7:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Amado (south of Tucson).  It’s rated PG-13, runs just 85 minutes and has Spanish subtitles.

“Race to Nowhere” is “about the pressures faced by American school children and their teachers in a system and culture obsessed with the illusion of achievement, competition and the pressure to perform.”

It sounds like a great excuse to grab some fellow parents or teachers for a grown-up field trip that’ll lend itself to plenty of lively discussion on the drive home.

If you stop on the way for lottery tickets, just make sure you promise to share the bounty.