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Like Plotlines in Its Films, Anticipated Pasadena Film Fest Overcomes Challenges

But movie projectors are set to roll for Pasadena International Film Festival starting Wednesday

Published on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 | 4:43 am

It will be all “action!” as The Pasadena International Film Festival moves full speed ahead with its 7th annual week of films and celebrations at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, March 11-19.

While movies embody escapist entertainment, many of the selected films that will screen at the 2020 Pasadena International Film Festival reflect real life as we know it today in the United States.

The festival has also overcome challenges, in just being able to put on the anticipated event. Until recently it was uncertain if the fest could be held at the Laemmle because of a possible sale of the company, which did not happen. And while there are zero confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Pasadena as of this writing, major festivals around the world have been canceled or postponed because of the threat of the COVID-19.

Typically visitors come from all over the world to see the films being screened or screen their own product.  PIFF showcases over 100 films from 15 countries. The Festival has honored Martin Sheen, Doris Roberts, Jason Ritter, Tom Arnold, Melora Hardin, and Michael Gross, among others.

PIFF Films Run The Gamut in Topics and Style

Jessica Hardin, the Festival’s Executive Director.

There is no one set “theme” for the fest this year, but many of the films selected take a hard look at reality as we have come to know it over the last several years.

Many of the films have a common thread on topics that get less coverage in the news for a range of reasons.  There are films about abuse, PTSD and the impact of money on the political system.

“I’d say there are at least two films for each of these themes,” said Jessica Hardin, the Festival’s Executive Director. “We are open to everything, because otherwise we would constrict ourselves as to what we can accept. We ideally want the most submissions possible, both in terms of quality and quantity, and if we have only one ‘genre’ or a ‘theme’ that limits us.”

Films that have an immigration theme, or relate to civil rights or government corruption have been put together in PIFF Block 24, and they’ll be shown at 8:55 pm on Tuesday March 17th. The films are “Proof,” “Rescued,” “Honors Student,” “In Colors,”  “US MX” and “(t)here.”

“Block 24 films deal mostly with all immigration issues we’ve been hearing about in the news lately,” Hardin said. “The border wall, Trump’s measures, the corrupt political system, there’s even a film called “US MX” set in a not too distant future, where desperate people are trying to cross the border wall and there’s a twist ending” (Tuesday, March 17).

Block 24 – 8:55 pm (CLICK FOR BLOCK 24 TICKETS)


Rescued (Rescatado)

Honor Student

In Colors



Under Darkness

There are films that deal with the reality of post-traumatic stress.

“‘Back From The Brink,’ a short film dealing with the PTSD issues of multiple war vets is direct and eye-opening,” Hardin said. The film will be screened Wednesday, March 18.

Block 26 – 7:30 pm (CLICK FOR BLOCK 26 TICKETS)

L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life): From Standing Rock To The Swamp

Back From The Brink

Bobcats On Three

Hardin said among the most anticipated films during festival days are three features that convey survival or adventure in a unique setting.

“The biggest films we have are three features: ‘Danger! Danger!’ an 80’s style Indiana Jones-type adventure comedy; ‘To Your Last Death,’ a brilliant horror animation (R-Rated) starring William Shatner, and ‘The S.H.U.’ starting Edi Gathegi and Melora Hardin about a prisoner in an awful detention center,” she said.

“The S.H.U.”  is described as “A mind-bending journey into solitary confinement seen through eyes of an African-American inmate serving a life sentence for murder.

Fighting for his appeal, he is thrown into The S.H.U. where his horrific descent into madness is aggravated by a hardened female guard hell-bent on her own form of justice (Saturday, March 14).

Block 13 – 8:25 pm (CLICK FOR BLOCK 13 TICKETS)

Trial By Fire

The S.H.U.

“Danger! Danger!” is set in 1985 when adventurer, Jonathan Danger, has just crash-landed onto an Island 20 miles off the coast of Africa. He’s looking for a temple that may or may not be his ticket to go back in time. But the Soviets got there first and they want to go back in time to change the events of the Space Race and the Cold War and World War II. After some challenges, Danger finds a way  (Sunday, March 15).

Block 18 – 6:25 pm (CLICK FOR BLOCK 18 TICKETS)

Oh, Sorry

Danger! Danger!

“To Your Last Death” follows the story of Miriam, a protagonist who returns back in time to fix her childhood. She was the sole survivor in a deadly revenge game set up by her father to punish his children. But she receives an offer from a supernatural entity to go back in time and try again. Now, Miriam must survive both her father’s bloodlust and the Gamemaster’s ever-changing rules to save her siblings as she relives the worst night of her life (Friday, March 13).

Block 8 – 9:30 pm (CLICK FOR BLOCK 8 TICKETS)

The Plane

Time Is A Nagra

To Your Last Death

The Pasadena International Film Fest is currently planned to run from March 11 to March 19 at the Laemmle Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd.,

Pasadena. For more information or tickets go to

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