Wednesday, April 6

Emery's 2022 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Sunday, April 3rd

 Coda’s ongoing coverage of the 2022 Phoenix Film Festival & International Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival. I'll be using these posts to recap the films I've experienced as part of these festivals.


By Emery Snyder - @leeroy711

MAMA BEARS – Directed by Daresha Kyi


 This is a documentary that follows the stories of conservative Christian mothers who have become the fierce advocates for the acceptance of their LGBTQ+ children.

This film begins by setting the background stories of three different families and how the parents of LGBTQ+ children initially handled these issues. Whether they attempted to ‘pray the gay away’ or ‘spank the trans out of the child’, they were eventually faced with the reality that these parts of the children’s identities were not by choice and cannot be changed. And that rethinking their interpretation of the scripture was the only thing that could be done to ensure the love and acceptance that their children need.

Ultimately, this film seems to attempt to paint a rosy picture of the future of the conflicts between the LGBTQ+ community and the Christian Conservative movement in this country. It almost feels like it’s just a stage setting for these women to pat themselves on the back. I may be a bit cynical, but if the only members of a church or a Christian family that we can get to accept the sexual identity of a child are that child’s direct parents, we’re just nowhere near where we need to be. The women in this film, now championed for their “Free Hugs” tour of Gay Pride Parades, or Same-Sex Marriage Stand-In Mom could only come to accept this community after their actual flesh-and-blood was a part of it. I found this to be an extraordinarily sad truth that the film seems to gloss over a bit.

If the film’s purpose is to show an audience of Bible Belt Christian Conservatives that it’s okay to love and accept their LGBTQ+ family members, then I commend it for succeeding. Unfortunately, if we’re looking for a film to show an LGBTQ+ audience that the church is a safe place for them, this isn’t it. If anything, this film shows the opposite.



THE GRAND BOLERO – Directed by Gabriele Fabbro


During the Covid-19 lockdown, a middle aged pipe organ technician, Roxanne begrudgingly takes on a new assistant, Lucia a beautiful 20-year-old mute woman. Passions flare between the two, as do paranoia and suspicions.

What I was expecting from this film was a feast of sight and sound. And in that respect, I was not disappointed in the least. If you didn’t think that a massive pipe organ could be cinematic, you were mistaken. And although other aspects of this film ended up a bit disappointing, I’m so glad I saw it on the big screen. This film demands the grandiose and volume found only in a theater.  

Unfortunately, the overall story fell a bit flat for me. The suspense was never really built up, so the climactic scenes in the final act seemed to just appear out of nowhere, without proper justification. It made it tough to understand the motivations behind some of the actions taken by the characters. And I could just never get fully invested.



RUN WOMAN RUN – Directed by Zoe Leigh Hopkins


Beck is a single mom who, after a health scare is forced to make some drastic life changes. In the process, and with some magical help, she relearns how to honor her family, her language and the Earth.

This is a very sweet and inspiring film. The screenplay is well paced and works to unfold a motivational story of one woman’s redemption. The dialogue keeps it light with ‘rom-com’ style laughs of endearment and silliness. This is the right type of light fare for a Sunday evening date night.

Its most impressive aspect was the performance of star, Dakota Ray Hebert. She carries the film and I’ll be interested to see her work in the future.


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