With an incredible 140 films and short films this year, the 22nd Arizona International Film Festival will be showcasing the talent from 32 different countries this year.
"It's a new record for us," said Mia Schnaible, the festival's director of marketing and development. "They just couldn't tear it down anymore and that's kind of how our festival rolls. We see how many films we can squeeze into that 17 days."
Since its start in 1990, the festival has shown more than 2,120 films from 80 countries to more than 132,000 people, according to their website. Schnaible has enjoyed seeing how one of the largest film festivals in the country has transformed since she began volunteering 11 years ago.
"It's just exciting how it's grown. ... It's gone from a three-day festival, to a 10-day festival, and now it's a 17-day festival," she said. "We found that the 17-day festival is great for us."
Out of more than 900 films received, the screeners managed to cut it down to the final 140 by viewing them in their entirety.
Although opening weekend already occurred last weekend, the festival continues through the 28th with plenty of other films to look forward to.
One of the upcoming films playing Saturday is titled Summer League, created by husband and wife duo director Lex Lybrand and writer Kelli Horan.
The film follows a college student who comes home for the summer to a death in the family. What she thought would be a short trip home turns into an extended stay where she finds solace in her small town's co-ed softball league, The Browncoats.
"Its equal parts family drama ... and just a story about friendship, which I think everybody can relate too," said Lybrand.
Ever since Lybrand was young, he knew he wanted to be a filmmaker. This—the fourth film he has been involved in with his multimedia production company, Greenless Studio—has given him the opportunity to live out that dream.
"When I was in elementary school I was the technical director for our good morning show," he said. "So I've been behind a camera and editing video on a computer for literally as long as I can remember."
In that dream, baseball has always played a huge role. His favorite movies include "The Sandlot" and "Field of Dreams," which greatly inspired this film.
Along with a quality baseball drama, Lybrand also hopes people walk come away from the film with a greater appreciation for their past and their future.
"Just overall, what I want people to get out of it is just sort of the kind of cheap nostalgia and how that's not necessarily a bad thing," he said. "It's OK to look back at your childhood but also realize that you're incorporating that into your adulthood."
Lybrand and Horan are both familiar with the festival because they both resided here for some time growing up. Horan was born and raised in Tucson, while Lybrand lived here for about 10 years. Both of them graduated from Flowing Wells High School and went on to attend the UA.
For Lybrand, the festival is a chance to reconnect with his Tucson upbringing.
"It's going to be really cool to be in the same seats that I saw other peoples films in and watched my own," he said.
Also going on Saturday will be an event called Filmstock.
"It's going to be all day with films about music at The Screening Room starting at 12 p.m," said Schnaible.
The event will show five different sets of music-centered films throughout the afternoon, with a live music show beginning at 9 p.m.
Another facet of the festival that is occurring brings filmmakers to different schools across Tucson to educate children on the process that is involved with creating their films. The program, Festival-in-the-Schools, is celebrating its 15th year uniting the students and filmmakers.
"It's really kind of cool to see these kids eyes just light up," said Schnaible.
Schnaible has enjoyed the festival ever since she was a show goer before getting involved. She knows that people who experience these films will gain a new appreciation for culture and film that they may not have otherwise been able to be exposed to.
"They will be entertained and they're going to experience great independent film," she said. "Their eyes will be opened to new worlds, new experiences and new fun."