STAFF PICK: The Screening Room, a musty, slightly threadbare, 100-odd-seat venue tucked away in a row of small shops and galleries in the heart of downtown, isn't much to look at. But if you're lucky enough to have discovered the theater, arguably Tucson's greatest cinematic gem, you'd have been too preoccupied with the fine movies proprietor Giulio Scalinger brings to the screen to pay much attention to the surroundings. Each week is a surprise, sometimes even a revelation -- a forgotten '50s sci-fi thriller, a Japanese samurai epic, an Italian masterpiece...and just about every one is worth checking out. Every April, Scalinger spearheads the Arizona International Film Festival, an eclectic mix of shorts, independents, animation, local productions, and even a few big-ticket items, accompanied by seminars and lectures by visiting filmmakers from all over the world. Film cognoscenti know to leave lots of room on their spring calendar for the festival. The films are screened at several theaters around town, but none feels more homey than the Screening Room -- or better suited to the art it promotes.
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