The 2023 Prescott Film Festival (PFF) combines independent films from all over the world with historical tributes and workshops across a six-day celebration of film. The 13th edition of PFF runs from Sept. 19-24, at the Jim & Linda Lee Performing Arts Center and various locations across Yavapai College’s Prescott Campus, 1100 E. Sheldon St.

The opening night feature, “Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes,” follows the legendary drummer through the creative peaks you know as well as personal and civil rights struggles. The film will be followed by an Opening Night Afterparty at the Performing Arts Center, catered by El Gato Azul.

More than 20 screenings will take place over the course of the six-day festival, featuring romance, comedy and a lot of films that focus on music.

“One year we had a whole bunch of documentaries about water and this is like the year of music,” PFF Founder and Director Helen Stephenson said.

Among the music-themed films is an independent musical called “Burst the Silence.”

“You go through so many movies when you’re trying to program a festival, so I decided, ‘Well, I need to spend time with my daughter,’” Stephenson said. “So I said, ‘Here’s an independent musical.’ And she kind of rolled her eyes and she’s kind of playing with her phone. Then we started the movie and as soon as these people open their mouths and start to sing, literally, our mouths dropped open because the voices were fantastic and the songs stayed in my head.”

Among the things Stephenson enjoys about holding this festival every year, being a part of a community of independent filmmakers and film lovers is at the top.

“It keeps me connected to what’s happening in independent film, which I’ve always loved but the people are my favorite part,” she said. “The volunteers, of course, it’s wonderful to see the same people year after year, talk about their favorite films and what’s going on. You become friends with all the volunteers.

“And the audience members, every single year there’ll be several audience members say, ‘Thank you for doing this. We really appreciate having this in our community.’”

The Prescott Film Festival offers a variety of ticket packages. The PFF Platinum Pass ($298) offers reserved seating at all films and access to the VIP Director’s Loft. All-Film Passes ($178) and Six-Film Discount Pack ($72) are also available. Individual screenings are $14 for general admission, with a 50% discount for students, YC employees and OLLI members.

Tickets are available online or at the Performing Arts Center Ticket Office, open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Film trailers and a full festival schedule are available on the PFF website,

For more information, call 928-776-2000, or email

Jesse Bertel is a reporter/videographer for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @ JesseBertel, email him at, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.

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