This fall, Philadelphia made its return to the stunning display of arts and theater. The broadway hit musical that took the world by storm two years ago, Hamilton, made its Philadelphia debut last month. The Fringe Arts Festival showcased an array of local filmmakers while comedian John Mulaney made history with his record-breaking 14-night residency at Kimmel Center Academy of Music. A-list stars have once again flocked to the tri-state area, bringing in opportunities to the city. One of Philadelphia’s biggest yearly events returns for its 30th anniversary.
The Philadelphia Film Festival, held by the Philadelphia Film Society, shows that a pandemic will not drown the creative mind. The big event set in place all health protocols and made sure things were able to run smoothly. In a post-pandemic world, taking necessary precautions isn’t something to take lightly. The organizers made sure to highlight the struggles we are all currently living in.
J. Andrew Greenblatt, CEO & Executive Director, Philadelphia Film Society(PFS) stated, “After reopening our theaters this Summer, we’re excited to welcome back Philadelphians and film lovers everywhere for our milestone 30th anniversary Philadelphia Film Festival taking place for the first time in our history, exclusively in our own venues: the Philadelphia Film Center, PFS Bourse Theater, and the PFS Drive-In at the Navy Yard.”
Michael Lerman, Artistic Director for the Philadelphia Film Society, spoke about the struggles and emotions surrounding the festival’s return. “Coming off a year of pushed back release dates and societal confusion, I’m happy to report that cinema is stronger than ever. This year’s lineup is truly one of our most robust and explosive,” he said.
This year’s film festival showcased a few projects that highlighted themes of life and loss, the power of the human experience, human rights, labor laws, and politics on a larger scale. From documentaries to short animated films, the two-week festival packed quite a punch since its last run in 2019. Among the 150 films shown, Philly local Will Smith’s latest film, “King Richard,” is among the festivals’ centerpiece films. Other spotlight films included Judi Dench in “Belfast,” and the highly anticipated Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch.”
Despite foreign and box office films, some local filmmakers claim their stake at the dazzling event. Alysa Nahmias’ documentary “Krimes” follows Lancaster native Jesse Krimes, who, while in jail, sprouted creativity. Hallee Adelman and Sean King O’Grady’s documentary “Our American Family” portrays a Philadelphia family fighting to rebuild relationships after nearly being torn apart by addiction.
One of the biggest moments came from fellow Philadelphia Film Society board member and acclaimed Philly filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan engaging attendees in a discussion on filmmaking. Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro was also in attendance virtually. Other members of Hollywood were also in attendance. Filmmaker Kevin Smith also featured a Q&A session after the showing of “Clerk,” a documentary detailing the life of the iconic comic lover/director.
Adding new changes, the Philadelphia Film Festival added two new categories that will allow for better inclusion. A new environmental category, Green Screen, will be introduced – from animal welfare to the effects of climate change. This year’s “Visions of” category focuses on Visions of Iran, showcasing a selection of exceptional films produced in Iran.
Despite all the glam and star power in attendance, the Philadelphia Film Festivals allow Philadelphia to showcase its talent. Some of the projects were created right in the heart of the city. Films like “All About My Sisters” from Temple alumni Wang Qiong steal the spotlight. Winners of Best Philadelphia Short, “Sisters of the Soil” open up the discussion of black women authors and life in Philadelphia. Projects like this is why Philadelphia continues to be a beacon of art in the film industry. There’s a piece of everyone here.