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The 11th Annual Phoenix Film Festival, presented by Cox and Starz, takes place from March 31, 2011 through April 7, 2011 at Harkins Scottsdale 101. Ten films are set to compete for multiple honors, including Best Picture, in the festival’s Competition Feature Films Awards.

Ten films to contend for top honors at the 11th Annual Phoenix Film Festival

The dramatic comedy A Little Help stars Jenna Fischer (NBC’s The Office), Chris O’Donnell (Mad Love), Kim Coates (Black Hawk Down), and Lesley Ann Warren (Waitress). Written and directed by Michael Weithhorn, who is known for his television experience, the film is about a woman who gets entangled in a series of bizarre lies in order to take care of herself and her 12 year old son.

Each year thousands of wild horses are rounded up and removed from public lands by the U.S. Government. All will need permanent homes. None has ever been touched by a human hand. The documentary Wild Horse, Wild Ride tells the story of the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge, an annual contest that dares 100 people to each tame a wild mustang so it can be adopted into a better life beyond federal corrals. The film was made by husband-and-wife team Alex Dawson and Greg Gricus, who have worked in the production of non-fiction television for over 15 years, including shows for History Channel and Discovery Channel

The Dead Inside is the first-ever horror musical at the Phoenix Film Festival! The film is about Wes, a burned-out photographer, and Fi, the author of a series of zombie novellas. They are lovers who, at one time, were at the top of their creative game, but now have misplaced their muse. When Fi begins to show signs of mental illness, Wes does everything in his power to help her get better. But darker forces lurk inside her, and soon they realize the true horror of the situation. Fighting against a disturbed entity, they rediscover inspiration in the grimmest corners of this musical horror movie.

Falling Overnight tells the story of 22 year old Elliot Carson on the day before his surgery to remove a brain tumor. Facing what could be his last night, Elliot’s path intersects with Chloe Webb, a young photographer who invites him to her art show. Elliot welcomes the distraction and, as the night descends, Chloe takes him on an intimate and exhilarating journey through the city. But as morning approaches and Chloe learns of Elliot’s condition, the magic of the evening unravels and they must together face the uncertainty of Elliot’s future.

In Suspicion, Brad Blaisdell (Executive Decision) stars as Darrell Jacobs, an aging ex-mobster who is dying of lung cancer, unknowingly puts a college student’s (Suzanne May from Gentleman Broncos) life in jeopardy when they begin meeting in public.

Stranger Things recently won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 Slamdance Film Festival. The film is a story about Oona, a young woman dealing with the loss of her mother, who reaches out to a stranger: Mani, a mysterious homeless man of Middle-Eastern origin, whom she invites to stay on her property. Despite the space between them, Oona and Mani gradually form an unusual bond. First time filmmakers Eleanor Burke and Ron Eyal collaborated closely with the actors to build their characters and back-stories and only revealed the script to them in segments during the shoot. The result is compelling and unusually intimate film, which explores themes of grief, friendship and human vulnerability.

The Lake Effect is a dramedy about a man whose midlife crisis is interrupted by the appearance of his estranged 18 year-old daughter, who is nine months pregnant. The film stars Ross Partridge (Baghead), Tara Summers (The Jacket), and Kay Panabaker (TV’s No Ordinary Family).

Crime after Crime is the exclusive documentary film about the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler, a woman imprisoned for over a quarter century due to her connection to the murder of the man who abused her. She finds her only hope for freedom when two rookie attorneys with no background in criminal law step in to take her case. This was an Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival.

The documentary Thespians follows talented high school theatre troupes as they audition, rehearse, and compete in the largest high school theatre festival in the world. Get inside the inspiring world of high school theatre and witness the impact that this art form and the Thespian’s organization have had on the students’ lives. The film includes amazing performances from some of Broadway and Hollywood’s stars of the future.

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