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Tue, Oct. 15

‘Wish Man’ kicks off 10th annual Prescott Film Festival
Festival has a cross section of something for everyone, executive director says

"Wish Man" poster. (Courtesy)

"Wish Man" poster. (Courtesy)

Kicking off this year’s Prescott Film Festival is “Wish Man,” the biographical drama of the story behind Prescott resident Frank Shankwitz and the events that led to the creation of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Helen Stephenson, executive director and founder of the Prescott Film Festival, said she knew about the film being shot locally and has been following it ever since they were shooting. Students from Yavapai College’s film and media arts program were invited to the set and Prescott Unified School District donated period furniture, Stephenson said.

“The community really came together to make that film happen,” she said. “Frank Shankwitz is one of our own. He is a Prescott High School graduate and his story is very compelling … how could we not have it at the film festival?”

Normally the film festival shows a short film prior to the features, but there won’t be one before “Wish Man,” at 7 p.m. Friday, June 7, Stephenson said. That’s so there can be an extended amount of time for Shankwitz to tell his story and answer questions afterward, making it a celebration of the film for the entire community, she said. It’s followed by a Cabaret Party sponsored by El Gato Azul.

The showing of “Wish Man” at the Prescott Film Festival comes after premieres in Hollywood Tuesday, June 4, in San Diego Wednesday, June 5, and in Scottsdale on Thursday, June 6. For anyone unable to make it to the showing at the Prescott Film Festival, it opens at Harkins Theatres in Prescott Valley, 7202 Pav Way, Friday, June 7, and there’ll be a DVD release Sunday, Sept. 15.

Shankwitz, who has received numerous awards including the President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award from President Donald Trump and the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President George W. Bush, said he is excited about having the film kick off the Prescott Film Festival especially because the City of Prescott was so good about helping them film on location.

“I lobbied very hard with the studio that we could film in Prescott, Seligman and Yavapai County,” he said. “It’s kind of a payback for when I was a teenager here and growing up in high school and so on. All the people that helped me and now I can kind of give back to the community.”

It took six years from the film’s inception to get it to theaters and the Cannes Film Festival gave it positive review, Shankwitz said. They’re already looking at a worldwide market, he said.


Also showing at this year’s week-long Prescott Film Festival, held from Friday, June 7, to Saturday, June 15, is a documentary called “Skid Row Marathon” about a judge in Southern California who decided he wanted to do more for the people who came through his court,” Stephenson said.


"Skid Row" poster. (Courtesy)

When they get out, he offers them a chance to be on his marathon team, she said. They’ve gone all over the world, Stephenson said.

“Wish Man” and “Skid Row Marathon” are two films that fulfills the festival’s mission of entertaining, inspiring and informing, she said.

“Those are two films that show that one person can make a difference in this world,” Stephenson said.

There’s a film called “Bias” on the last day of the film too, she said. Showing at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15, it talks about how people have biases and goes into how they manifest, Stephenson said. The short that goes with it, “25 Texans in the Land of Lincoln,” is a documentary depicting 25 Texan college students on a quest to repatriate General Santa Anna’s prosthetic leg to Mexico.

This year’s festival sees the Taste of Arizona, a tasting with local wine, beer and spirits on Friday, June 14, moving outside and two gourmet dinners as well. The first dinner, prepared by Chef Robert Barr of the Sedona Culinary School of Yavapai College is on Monday, June 10, and the second, provided by El Gato Azul, is on Wednesday, June 12.


"Old Boys" poster. (Courtesy)

A five piece orchestra is coming from Colorado for Silent Symphony, accompanying the silent film “The General,” at 7 p.m. Friday, June 14, and at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15, there will be a sing along to “The Sound of Music” with special guest Kym Karath, the actress who played Gretl.

Another Cabaret Party sponsored by El Gato Azul closes the festival after the showing of “Storm Boy” and “The Wonder” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15.


Workshops this year include student short film program at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 9, a look at the best narrative short films shown in the last decade of the Prescott Film Festival at 2 p.m. June 10, and noon Tuesday, June 11, and a comparison of thriller versus horror films and why people can’t get enough at 2 p.m. June 12. Additionally, the Yavapai College Art Gallery has an exhibit showcasing movie posters from films made in Yavapai County running through Saturday, June 15.

The Prescott film Festival has a cross section of something for everybody and it always inspires conversations, Stephenson said.

“I always try to stand out there in the lobby when the film ands and hear what people say and listen to their discussions and then they tell me what they think about the film or they ask me ‘what did you think about this?’ ‘What does that mean,” she said. “It just brings the community together.”



Prescott Film Festival poster. (Courtesy)

Admission to the Prescott Film Festival is $13 for general admission; $7 for students; $110 for a 10-pack of general admission tickets; $75 for one of the gourmet dinners and film, $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for students to Silent Symphony; $45 to the Taste of Arizona Event that includes free admission to Silent Symphony, $280 for a Platinum Pass, the most complete festival pass, $175 for the all film pass and $80 for an opening weekend or closing weekend pass.

For more information on the Prescott Film Festival or to purchase tickets, visit

All events are at Yavapai College, 1100 E. Sheldon St.

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