Patrick SchweissLike Ilchi Lee, Patrick Schweiss, Executive Director of the Sedona International Film Festival, heeded the Call of Sedona and enjoys an exciting career helping to create some of the annual excitement that happens in Sedona.

LT: Please tell our readers what drew you to Sedona.

PS: I’m from Minnesota originally, and I went to Arizona State University, and that’s where I met my wife, Elizabeth Larsen. Elizabeth is a native of Sedona, born and raised here. Sedona is so magnificent—we’d come up on weekends, and it’s so beautiful, but I was never expecting to live here. It’s like being home and being on a permanent vacation! It is that magic we have. But I ended up here in a ‘non-magical’ way.

LT: In what way?

PS: Elizabeth’s family owns the Sedona Red Rock News. She was attending ASU. We met on the yearbook staff there. That is more of an enchanting story than the whole “Sedona connection.” I guess it was meant to be.

This was 1986, and ASU hadn’t had a yearbook for 14 years! (Because of the political unrest of the early 70’s, the students made a very politically-motivated book, and so the college canceled it.) The year we were there a group of students decided to bring the yearbook back.

Both Elizabeth and I have publishing backgrounds and were high school yearbook editors, so the happenstance that we actually met in a group that shouldn’t have even been formed was kind of amazing! We brought the yearbook back and did several years of award-winning books. We became best friends instantly and eventually got married in 1990.

LT: Is that when you moved to Sedona?

PS: No, first I took a job with a publishing company in Richmond, Virginia right after we got married, so we moved out there for two years. I loved it, but Elizabeth just didn’t like Virginia. So we came back to Sedona. And, I’ve had a blast! I started working for her family’s business and ended up being there for 12 years. And I fell in love with Sedona . . . it is a magical and wonderful place!

LT: You eventually left the newspaper and became Executive Director for the Sedona International Film Festival, a non-profit organization.

PS: Yes, the festival is 22 years old; I joined them in year eleven, so I’ve done twelve of the festivals. When I took over, it was a two-and-a-half day festival; now it is nine days. We built the Mary D. Fisher Theatre four years ago, so we have our own venue and can do independent films and special cultural events. Now, our festival actually expands all year long with two shows a day, and has brought many cultural things Sedona normally wouldn’t be exposed to: the Bolshoi Ballet, the National Theatre of London, simulcast events, Met Live Opera, and more!

LT: The festival makes people’s imaginations dance and is a huge annual event!

PS: Audiences are blown away by the quality of the films we show! We take them to another world they wouldn’t normally get to see or experience. We are very, very fortunate, not only to have filmmakers and audience members from around the world, but we are one of the strongest-supported local organizations: by the local residents and businesses, our membership base, and our sponsorship base. We are just really blessed!

Audience members are coming from everywhere. We’ve gained a reputation now of being a really wonderful, wonderful festival in a very beautiful destination.

And, I’m not foolish enough to think that Sedona doesn’t have something to do with that draw!

LT: Thank you, Patrick!

Lynn A. TrombettaBy Lynn A. Trombetta: A freelance web writer on topics of art, music, and wellness, Lynn is also a wildlife artist/photographer, professional flutist, recording artist, and published author.