By Michael Smith
This year at the Heartland Film Festival, everything I saw fulfilled the festival’s mission to inspire filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film. However, no film that I saw was as relevant to the current climate as Miss Arizona.
Miss Arizona follows Rose Raynes, former Miss Arizona, now a housewife who has a troubled marriage to a successful Hollywood agent and an increasingly independent 10-year-old son. When her husband, Rick, asks her to go to lunch with his co-workers’ wives so he can get ahead in his company, she reluctantly obliges but finds that there is an opportunity to speak at a women’s shelter for a life skills class. While there, she learns how little she actual knows about life, and how to get a job and other important life skills. However, the appearance of an abusive ex leads to an escape and an all-night adventure of self-discovery for all the women.
Miss Arizona is a wonderful film that brings awareness to many different forms of abuse and how anyone no matter their background or current status can be subjected to it. Following the #MeToo movement, this is a perfect film to bring not only awareness but also empowerment to women everywhere. While there are a few flaws in pacing (mostly dealing with how most the movie takes place over a single day), they can be easily overlooked.
After the movie, writer-director-producer Autumn McAlpin talked in a Q&A about the production of the film. One thing that I found most impressive was that she wrote the original script in about three weeks and left a different production to work on this passion project. Shot in only fourteen days, the production of Miss America flipped the script of normal Hollywood movie crews with a 4:1 ratio of women to men.
When this film secures distribution, I recommend everyone to see it. It raises awareness for all types of abuse, and it has a message of empowerment and personal truth that can resonate with women and men both.