Catherine Hardwicke is returning to her old stomping grounds.

The director of the massive hits “Thirteen” and “Twilight,” who will be honored at the Oct. 11-13 Film Fest Tucson, has strong ties to Southern Arizona.

Before her gig as a director, Hardwicke worked as a production designer for the movies “Tombstone,” “Tank Girl” and “Three Kings,” all filmed in this area.

Hardwicke’s unmatched style is one of the many reasons she will be celebrated, says Herb Stratford, the director of the festival.

“She’s one of the few women that are directing these big budget action pictures but yet still has this kind of artistic sensibility,” Stratford says.

She will be one of three honorees at the 3-year-old festival’s new Tribute Program. The others are actresses are Sophia Mitri Schloss and Haley Lu Richardson.

The all-female slate translates to a good chunk of the movies that will be screened, too.

Women directed 80 to 85 percent of the narrative films at this year’s festival. But Stratford says the overlap was not intentional.

“We weren’t filling a quota; we were just picking the movies that we like and all of them happened to be directed by women,” Stratford says. “And that just naturally kind of spilled into the tribute honorees.”

Also new this year: The festival has expanded to three locations.

“We’re dedicated to growing this festival as a real snapshot of Tucson both as a destination festival for visitors but also for locals,” Stratford says. “It’s an immersive experience and we really believe in that opportunity to connect filmmakers with audiences.”

Stratford views hundreds of films a year, but is quick to point out it’s not a one-man job.

“I’m kind of the first line of defense, then I have a committee that takes a look at films with me and makes sure I’m not crazy,” Stratford says with a chuckle.

Sarah Workman is a University of Arizona student apprenticing at the Star.