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Two Hitchcockian thrillers to play at Prescott Film Festival

Suspense lovers, grab your seats.

Hitchcockian thrillers are bound to grip the audience Wednesday, March 24, when the Prescott Film Festival screens the feature "Solitary" and the short "Simulacrum" at the Yavapai College Performance Hall.

"Solitary's" lead character Sara Ballard (Amber Jaeger) is pushed to the brink when a sudden onset of agoraphobia traps her in her suburban home. Her fear becomes a nightmare when her husband mysteriously disappears, leaving her only hope with her estranged sister and an enigmatic psychiatrist, Dr. Reznik (Andrew Qamar). But can she trust them?

Sara's journey through her darkest fears takes her from one unexpected revelation to another, and, ultimately to a shocking conclusion that she could never have imagined - true to a psychological thriller in which nothing is what it seems.

"The film is just excellent and really keeps you on the edge of your seat," said Helen Stephenson, Prescott Film Festival director. "The story is well crafted, beautifully shot and the editing is amazing. I left the film thinking that this very talented filmmaker, whose work is so reminiscent of Hitchcock's, will go far."

Writer/director/producer Greg Derochie collaborated with writer/producer Charles Scalfani in filming "Solitary" - in 28 days, only on weekends over three months' time. The inspiration for the feature came from Derochie's desire to write a mystery/thriller, and the influence of Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg, among others.

The luxury the filmmakers might not have had is a lot of money for their project. They managed to turn out a winning production on a pittance in comparison to a major film, and shot it inside Derochie's house. Lighting, they say, was one of their bigger challenges, but one they resolved by jamming lights into corners, rigging lights to ceilings and hanging lights outside windows.

"Solitary" played to sold out houses at the Sedona Film Festival and won the best New Vision award at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, Calif.

The short film, "Simulacrum," is a science fiction fable centered on Mickey, who is bored with his office job and desperate to follow his passion to write a novel. So he decides to buy a robotic replica of himself - a Simulacrum.

Mickey programs it up and sends the Simulacrum to work in his place while he stays home to write his book. That brings up a big question: What happens if a robot knows how to live your life better than you ever did?

Doors for Wednesday's screening open at 5:30 p.m., and the show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $7.50 and are available the night of the showings or in advance by calling the Performance Hall box office at 776-2000. The Performance Hall is located on the college's Prescott campus, 1100 E. Sheldon St.

The Prescott Film Festival is gearing up for its first major event that will take place Aug. 6, 7 and 8 this year, with a gala opening at the Hotel St. Michael. Wednesday night's viewing will feature trailers from some of the films that will screen during the festival.

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