Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Now playing:
On Air
Listen Live

Everything Fun There Is To Do At The Phoenix Film Festival

The annual Phoenix Film Festival brought a variety of feature films to the Harkins Theaters Scottsdale 101, but the festival’s opening weekend provided entertainment for all fans. No genre was left untouched by the filmmakers showcased in this year’s festival.

Alex Mendivil, a staff member for the festival said the Phoenix Film Festival is a crucially important event to support. “As an aspiring independent filmmaker myself, the Phoenix Film Festival makes me feel honored to be involved in such a wonderful community,” she said.

On April 6, I watched the showing of “Everything Fun There Is To Do In Aledo, Illinois,” which proved to be the highlight of my experience. Directed by Bethany Berg, the film focuses on two childhood best friends who reconnect under unlikely circumstances. While the movie uses a classic trope to frame the plot, performances by Sara Sevigny and Jennifer Estlin make a traditional trope shine with the light of true friendship.

Opposites in every way, Brenda (played by Estlin) and Gabby (Sevigny) were inseparable in their adolescence. But life got between the two seemingly inseparable girls and set them on opposing life paths. Brenda was devoted to her late husband, while Gabby appreciated constant life changes. Whether it was a change of husband or scenery, Gabby liked to keep her life in motion. 

When Gabby arrives back in Aledo from her lavish European vacation, Brenda offers her a place to stay, however reluctantly so. Over a wine-drunken evening, they find a list entitled “Everything Fun There Is To Do In Aledo, Illinois.” The pair decide to set off and complete everything on their travel guide of sorts around the small town they evolved and grew in. 

The transition between awkward trepidation to reliving their childhood bliss provides a beautiful setting for Berg’s masterpiece of female friendship to flourish. In a society that insists on critiquing everything a woman does, a simply authentic portrayal of the intricacies of adult friendship provides a stark contrast to the over-polished, over-manicured image of online-fueled acquaintanceship we see in the 21st century. 

“Three days ago, I was just in LA and saw my childhood best friend who I’ve known since I was four,” Estlin said. “She moved away when we were eight, but I’ve still kept in touch with her after all these years.” 

The sentiment of revisiting one’s old familiar haunts rang true for me as I sat in the plush darkness of the theater. Nearing the end of my first year of college, I’ve been thinking about revisiting the old with the mindset of someone having experienced the new. I welled up at the thought of sharing Gabby and Brenda’s adventures with my high school best friend. 

The juxtaposition between old memories and new experiences also hit me when I realized that my ‘old’ high school self couldn’t have dreamed of the things I now consider to be a part of my daily life. Being able to attend a nationally renowned film festival with one of my (albeit new) best friends and sharing that fellowship with her brought out emotion within me. 

“One of the really good things about this movie is there’s something that everybody can relate to, especially if you’re from a small town, or have friends, which is basically everyone on Earth,” Berg said.

Everyone deserves friendship, romance and kinship, whatever variety it may be. This film masterfully shows how enriching these concepts can be. 

Similar Posts