Sunday, April 14

2024 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – April 13th

 Coda’s ongoing coverage of the 2024 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

DEMON MINERAL – Directed by Hadley Austin


This is a portrait and exploration of life in Navajo Nation and its radioactive desert among the over 500 abandoned uranium mines contaminating the country’s largest Native American Reservation.

Although its style often makes this documentary a little narratively disjointed, it manages to remain gripping throughout. It quickly and constantly switches between cinematic techniques and methods. At times, we’re watching crisp black and white cinematography, shot super wide to capture the immensity of the landscape. Then, we’re cutting to archival footage from decades ago. Later, we’re watching CSPAN footage from Congressional hearings on the matter.

While this technique will sometimes get the story’s timeline a little confused, I didn’t find it to take away from the film’s overall success as a method of activism. The audience is subconsciously free to pick and choose which styles activate that little part of your brain that says: “This is wrong. I should do something.” In that, the film is abundantly successful.


DEMON MINERAL plays again on Sunday, April 14th at 2:05 PM



ET TU – Directed by Max Tzannes


A dark comedy thriller set on a local production of Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar. The theater’s local cast is driving its director mad.

I had a blast with this film. I always respond to a flick that just seems like it was a lot of fun to make. Seasoned veteran, Lou Diamond Phillips plays Brent, the play’s director and he was chewing up this set like he was starved. It’s so much fun to watch someone with his experience and résumé just go for it fearlessly and endlessly. His multiple monologues are better performed than written. He selflessly breathed life into the script and I’m always grateful for performances like this one. This is not to say that it was a bad script, mind you. It just needed to be carried through a few of it’s rough patches.

That being said, this film is at its absolute best when it begins to lose itself in its own chaos. It turns out to be far gorier and bloodier than you likely are expecting from its first act. There are a few moments where I questioned the character’s motivations, but when it picks up, you can’t help but get swept away in its madness.

Most films like this would have strived to have the story somehow mirror the play in the production. This story is roughly Shakespeare-esque enough and I’m glad that it never seemed too concerned with cleverness. It’s more fun because of this.


ET TU plays again on Sunday, April 14th at 2:20 PM



MYSTERIOUS WAYS – Directed by Tyler Eaton


A pair of sibling youth group pastors attempt to save their church with a Halloween night interpretive dance and play. Unwittingly, the dance summons a demon that possesses the pastor’s daughter and threatens to usher in an early apocalypse.

As a former youth group member myself, I can attest: This film completely nails it. I really felt it when the hip-hop dancing pastor’s daughter scoffs at two of the others, “You guys are literally, so homeschooled…” This film flaunts its goofiness like so much praise dance outfit flair and I appreciate it for this. It doesn’t work every moment, but there are plenty of moments that redeem any insufficiency.

I also found it funny that for a film that constantly makes fun of ‘youth group’ culture, it more or less perpetuates a Christian ideology. If I were a youth pastor, I’d show this to my group.  


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