Harkins Theatres is a unique, independent, family-owned theatre chain, headquartered in Arizona. Its Camelview Theatre in Scottsdale was the place that seniors and young, aspiring moviemakers would gather to see the latest eclectic independent films and foreign films with subtitles. There was great consternation when Harkins announced it was tearing down the old theatre. But Dan Harkins promised that art and independent films would still be available in the new Harkins Camelview at Fashion Square Theatre in Scottsdale. This weekend of Jan. 29-31, 2016, film buffs were treated to special showings that demonstrated Harkins is keeping his promise.
While the second largest national chain, AMC, is advertising marathons of the eight major films nominated for 2016 Academy Awards, Harkins is showing the 2016 Oscar Nominated Live Action, Animated Shorts, and Short Films. These are the types of films, members of the Baby Boomer and Mature/Silent generations may remember used to be shown with the feature presentations or between double features in the days when movies were usually 90 minutes or less.
The collection of five shorts with live actors ranged from 12 to 30 minutes and came from the UK, France, Palestine, Germany, Kosovo, as well as the US. The five short documentaries from France, Germany, Pakistan, Liberia, Viet Nam and the US, are 40 minutes or less. The animated films are from Chile, UK, Russia and the US. Some were subtitled; some had no dialogue at all.
A wide variety of styles and pace was demonstrated; but the universal appeal of all the films were that they evoked strong emotions (whether laughter as a dysfunctional Jewish family’s car breaks down near a Catholic monastery in Ave Maria in Arab territory to tear-worthy sadness in Russia’s We Can’t Live Without Cosmos). Unlike after the many blow-things-up and “romcom” movies released by Hollywood, audience members for these films will still be thinking about some of the themes (e.g., the angst of American soldiers struggling with life and death in Day One) many days after leaving the theatre.
Danny Harkins is a well-loved and active member of the Phoenix community. His commitment to providing Arizonans the opportunity to see the same breath of films that those in New York and LA get to see is commendable.