The Kill Team

“The Kill Team” is based on true events and directed by Dan Krauss.

Movie fans around Glendale will definitely want to pop over the border for the second Peoria Film Fest. It cranks up the West Valley Oct. 10-13.

While there are many small, independent, “artsy” movies on the schedule, opening night is pure Hollywood: A sneak peek — and “director’s cut,” to boot—screening of “The Current War.”

This big-budget flick is the story of the battle between Thomas Edison (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon). It doesn’t open until Oct. 25, for the rest of the country.

“The Current War,” screening in Peoria at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10, is directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who had an indie hit with “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” The Hollywood Reporter panned “The Current War” as “an uninvolving bore,” one of several unflattering early reviews.

The Cumberbatch-Shannon battle plays at the Peoria Film Fest’s main base, Harkins Arrowhead Fountains Theatre 17, 16046 N Arrowhead Fountains Center Drive.

An opening night reception prior to the screening starts at 6 p.m. walking distance to the theater at Modern Round, 8320 W Mariners Way.

The glammy opening night film is a bit misleading, as the Peoria Film Fest focuses on small, daring unknowns.

And, with an intriguing mix of 20 big- and small-budget films, a showcase of student filmmakers and family programming, the second Peoria Film Festival is a major expansion over the first.

“This year we went wider with our scope of programming,” said Jason Carney, the executive director of the Phoenix Film Festival, which expanded to Peoria last year. “It’s a great opportunity to bring good, independent films to that part of the Valley.

“I live in El Mirage, so for me trying to see good indie films means hiking over to Scottsdale or downtown Phoenix.”

Some of the 20-plus offerings of the Peoria Film Fest:

“The Cat and the Moon,” a drama about a teen who travels to New York while his mother is in rehab. It was written and directed by Alex Wolff, who stars alongside Mike Epps, Skyler Gisondo, Stefania LaVie Owen, Giullian Yao Gioiello and Tommy Nelson.

An American soldier in Afghanistan copes with his squad’s murderous conduct in “The Kill Team,” based on true events and directed by Dan Krauss.

In the gripping “Window on the World,” a man travels from Mexico to New York City on 9/11 to search for his father, a worker at the World Trade Center’s famous Windows on the World restaurant.

“Same Boat” is a comedy about a time-traveling assassin who inadvertently falls in love with his target aboard a cruise ship.

New this year is “Family Film Day,” a free, kid-friendly event that launches from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12. It will be held at Huntington University.

Events include an animation and design workshop, which utilizes Huntington’s industry quality hardware and software to create art with digital pens and software.

Participants will also be able to shoot a live talk show or a movie scene in one of Huntington’s two studios. Kids will get to be on-air talent, direct scenes or operate the camera.

“Huntington University is enthused about being part of the Peoria Film Fest,” said Jeff Berggren, director of Arizona Operations at Huntington University, an Indiana-based Christian college of liberal arts. 

“Family Day at the festival will be fun for everyone, but young students ages 10 and up will really enjoy some hands-on activities at HU. Parents and other adults are welcome to stop by for a tour of the Huntington facility while the workshop festivities are taking place.”

Huntington University is at 8385 W. Mariners Way, Peoria.

For tickets, schedules and more information, visit peoriafilmfest.com. Tickets may also be purchased at the Peoria Film Fest Ticket Center in the lobby of  Harkins Arrowhead Fountains Theatre. Tickets range from $10 for a single screening to $75 for a VIP Pass. For more information call 480-513-3195.