Film festival reinvents

Event is virtual for 2021 with series of talks, screenings and more

AROUND THE GLOBE “How I Live,” directed by Meghan Shea, describes the hardships of cancer treatment and obstacles to accessing care plague children and their families in Guatemala, El Salvador, Myanmar and Egypt. The film will be screened during the virtual Popper Jasper International Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Popper Jasper International Film Festival

The Poppy Jasper International Film Festival (PJIFF) recently announced its full film lineup for its 2021 virtual edition. The festival will run April 7-20.

This year’s Gala celebration will take place on April 9 with keynote speaker Drew Massey, actor and puppeteer for the Jim Henson Company, known for his work on “The Muppets” and most recently on “The Happytime Murders.” Massey also has a new series coming out on Nickelodeon called “The Barbarian and the Troll” set to premiere on April 2. 

The night will also include greetings from this year’s filmmakers from around the world as well as the premiere of the song “Believe” written by Grammy Award winner and President of Paramount Worldwide Publishing and Music Randy Spendlove and Grammy Award winner Polo Jones of Morgan Hill. The night will also include a poetry reading by January Handl.  

The complete PJIFF lineup includes features from across the globe including Austria’s “Return of the Thumb (Die Rückkehr des Daumens)” from director Flo Convey, Iran’s “One Night in Tehran” from director Farhad Najafi, and Germany’s “Brian Auger—Life on Tour” from director Michael Maschke. 

The international shorts program will include Rena Dumont’s “Hapless Hans” (Germany), Florence Bouvy’s “Till the End of the World” (Netherlands), Jhosimar Vasquez’s “The Scorpion’s Tale” (USA) and Garth Jennings’s “Madame” (UK).

The festival will also feature panel discussions including a special panel presentation with Jerry Martinez from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who worked on the Perseverance Mars Landing, to discuss the use of camera techniques in storytelling. PJIFF has also partnered with the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) to host a Women’s Day on April 9 which will include a panel discussion on Women in Film with Jennifer McCabe, director and chief curator at SMoCA, Kavery Kaul, award-winning documentary filmmaker, Debbe Goldstein, owner and art rep at Art Rep DG, Rucha Chitnis, award-winning documentary filmmaker and fellow at the International Women’s Media Foundation, and Consuelo Flores, Former Director, Policy Strategy and Analysis, EEO and Diversity at SAG AFTRA. The panel will be moderated by Kulvinder Arora, former Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago and president of Literary Legacies.

The festival will also include Student Day (April 7) showcasing student films from across the world, Local Day (April 8) highlighting the work of local filmmakers, and the previously announced China Day (April 10) and Mexico Day (April 11). The festival will close with Community Achievement Awards on April 20 celebrating leaders who have made an impact on the local community.

“PJIFF is committed to supporting diverse perspectives and new independent voices in cinema and we are proud to say that this year is no different,” said Festival Director Mattie Scariot. “We are excited to showcase these unique and inspiring films.” 

Tickets and passes are now available on PJIFF’s website at For the full schedule, visit