Seven Ways to Watch Offbeat or Outdoor Films in Metro Phoenix


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Film nerds, take note: You’ve suddenly got some fresh venue options in metro Phoenix, where screens are going up in unexpected places: a museum courtyard, a neighborhood art park. Here’s a look at where you can watch movies outdoors, or find offbeat films to watch in-person or online.

Cinema Park at Alwun House

No Festival Required is launching outdoor film screenings under the name Cinema Park, paying homage to the Cinema Park Drive-in once located at Seventh and Missouri streets. First up is a free screening for Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman, which explores the life and work of a key figure in the American Arts and Crafts Movement at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 13. Director Herb Stratford and producer Kerry Stratford will do a short Q & A after the film. Seating is limited and you need to bring your own chair or blanket. Space is limited so make an online reservation before you attend. (No Festival Required also does virtual screenings.)


The independent movie house FilmBar is showing a small number of films indoors, with social distancing and seating limited to 20 patrons per screening. Next up is Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, a 2021 film exploring the work of visionary creatives who launched and developed the popular TV show. It’ll run through Sunday, May 16. You can also watch a changing selection of films through the venue’s Twitch channel.

Pemberton PHX

This Roosevelt Row creative space recently partnered with FilmBar to present outdoor movies on a giant screen mounted on a pair of stacked shipping containers, with audiences seated in colorful rows of Adirondack chairs that allow for socially-distancing. The Big Gay Singalong series (where costumes are encouraged) includes Hairspray on Wednesday, May 12, and The Wizard of Oz on Wednesday, May 26.

Watch Gimme Shelter in an outdoor courtyard at Phoenix Art Museum.EXPAND

Watch Gimme Shelter in an outdoor courtyard at Phoenix Art Museum.

Courtesy of Janus Films

Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum has presented a wide range of films in its Whitman Auditorium, from works by local filmmakers to international art films. The next film in its Great Art on Screen series is Secret Impressionists from BY Experience which sets dozens of works by artists including Manet, Renoir, Monet, and Cézanne in the context of late-19th-century Paris. General admission tickets for the 2 p.m. screening on Sunday, May 9, are $18 and viewers can buy a $5 ticket that day if they also want to explore the museum.

The museum also partners with FilmBar for a series called Films in the Garden, which features screenings in the museum’s outdoor courtyard. They’re showing Gimme Shelter, which follows the Rolling Stones on their 1969 U.S. tour, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 13 to 15. They’re showing Tokyo Drifter, a 1966 Japanese film about gang rivalries, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, and Friday, May 28. General admission tickets for either film are $15.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

No Festival Required is screening the film H is for Happiness at the Virginia G. Piper Theater inside Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 8. The family-friendly film centers around the life of a 12-year-old girl in Australia who calls on her own optimism and imagination to try and make other family members happy. Tickets are $8.

Downtown Mesa

Head to downtown Mesa if you’re looking for an outdoor family movie night. Mesa Movie Mayhem at Main Street and North Macdonald presents films with pod seating so you can socially distance while you’re enjoying the films. Upcoming offerings include Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on Saturday, May 8. There’s a character meet-and-greet at 6:30 p.m. and the film rolls at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, May 22, you can dress like your favorite character for a 7:30 p.m. screening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Tickets are $5 for a small pod and $10 for a large pod.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is currently presenting virtual screenings, focusing on films that explore creative and cultural themes. Next up is William Klein’s 1969 film titled The Pan American Festival of Algiers, which explores the visual culture and significance of this1969 multi-day gathering. Tickets are pay-what-you wish ($5 minimum), and give you access to the film from 12 a.m. on Friday, May 7, to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 9. It’s being presented in conjunction with the Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco and the Consulate General of France, Los Angeles.

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