Originally published Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 09:53p.m.

In keeping with its mission to entertain, inspire and inform, the Prescott Film Festival is starting its 10th year with a showing of “Wish Man” at 7 p.m. Friday, June 7.

“Frank Shankwitz is one of our own,” said Prescott Film Festival Executive Director and Founder Helen Stephenson of the Prescott resident whose story and the events that led to the creation of the Make-A-Wish Foundation are told in the biographical drama. “He is a Prescott High School graduate and his story is very compelling … how could we not have it at the film festival?”

Instead of a short film preceding the feature, there will be an extended time afterward for Shankwitz to tell the story and answer questions to make it a celebration of “Wish Man” for the entire community, Stephenson said. A Cabaret Party sponsored by El Gato Azul follows.


The poster for “Wish Man,” a movie filmed locally that kicks off the 10th annual Prescott Film Festival at 7 p.m. Friday, June 7. (Helen Stephenson/Courtesy)

Shankwitz, who has received numerous awards including the President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award from President Donald Trump and the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President George W. Bush, said he is excited about having the film kick off the Prescott Film Festival especially because the City of Prescott was so good about helping them film on location.

“I lobbied very hard with the studio that we could film in Prescott, Seligman and Yavapai County,” he said. “It’s kind of a payback for when I was a teenager here and growing up in high school and so on. All the people that helped me and now I can kind of give back to the community.”

It took six years from the film’s inception to get it to theaters and the Cannes Film Festival gave it a positive review, Shankwitz said. They’re already looking at a worldwide market, he said. Anyone unable to attend the showing Friday night can see the film at Harkins Theatre in Prescott Valley, 7202 Pav Way.

Also showing at this year’s week-long Prescott Film Festival, held from Friday, June 7, to Saturday, June 15, is “Freaks” at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 8, a science fiction thriller where a girl discovers a bizarre, threatening and mysterious new world beyond her front door; “Old Boys” at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 9, a modern retelling of “Cyrano” set in an English boarding school; and “Olympia” at 7 p.m. Monday, June 10; a drama about a struggling Chicago artist with big dreams.

The Prescott Film Festival is experimenting with science fiction when it comes to Freaks, which stars Bruce Dern, Stephenson said. It comes out later this year.

“We normally shy away from sci-fi but we decided this is a really good film,” she said.

The Prescott Film Festival brings the community together and this year will have a cross section of something for everybody, Stephenson said.

This year’s festival sees the Taste of Arizona, a tasting with local wine, beer and spirits on Friday, June 14, moving outside and two gourmet dinners as well. The first dinner, prepared by Chef Robert Barr of the Sedona Culinary School of Yavapai College is on Monday, June 10, and the second, provided by El Gato Azul, is on Wednesday, June 12. A five-piece orchestra is coming from Colorado for Silent Symphony, accompanying the silent film “The General,” at 7 p.m. Friday, June 14, and at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15, there will be a sing along to “The Sound of Music” with special guest Kym Karath, the actress who played Gretl.

“Come in costume,” Stephenson said. “We want it to be a multi-generational event. Grandparents bring their grandkids and parents bring their kids. Just really have a fun celebration of that film.”

Another Cabaret Party sponsored by El Gato Azul closes the festival after the showing of “Storm Boy” and “The Wonder” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15.

Workshops this year include a look at how to stay safe and look real with hand-to-hand combat at 4 p.m. Monday, June 10; an exploration of technology possibly killing movies at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 11; and Yavapai College Philosophy Professor Dr. Andrew Winters speaking on understanding the structure of a horror film at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 13.

The Prescott Film Festival brings the community together and this year will have a cross section of something for everybody, Stephenson said.

Last year, Stephenson noted the $10,000 goal in order to be able to purchase a DCP compliant projector and screen, needed because there are certain films the festival couldn’t get because studios will only deliver the film that way which is less likely to be pirated. They were able to buy one, she said.

“(The Prescott Film Festival is) going to be the best place to see films in Yavapai County,” Stephenson said. “It’s just going to be amazing films.”

Admission to the Prescott Film Festival is $13 for general admission; $7 for students; $110 for a 10-pack of general admission tickets; $75 for one of the gourmet dinners and film; $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for students to Silent Symphony; $45 to the Taste of Arizona Event that includes free admission to Silent Symphony; $280 for a Platinum Pass, the most complete festival pass; $175 for the all film pass and $80 for an opening weekend or closing weekend pass.

For more information on the Prescott Film Festival, a full schedule or to purchase tickets, visit www.prescottfilmfestival.com.

All events are at Yavapai College, 1100 E. Sheldon St.