With the arrival of the spring season, Philadelphia begins its citywide transformation into a hub filled with art and culture. Creativity is in the air from family-friendly outdoor activities to catching your favorite show filming throughout the season. There’s no better place to immerse yourself in the culture than the SpringFest. The Philadelphia Film Festival’s 5th Annual SpringFest makes its long-awaited return to the Philadelphia Film Center.
The SpringFest showcases films gaining major globe traction over the span of three action-packed days. Held from May 13th-15th, this year’s event was the festival’s biggest since its start.
Andrew Greenblatt, the CEO & Executive Director of the Philadelphia Film Society, spoke to the press about the latest additions to the weekend.
“It’s actually bigger than any SpringFest we’ve ever done because we’re using two screens instead of one. We’ve got more films packed in there because there was so much we wanted to show. It’s all of the stuff that we would put in the main film festival if it were happening right now. There’s a lot to see. We’re showing around 22 films, which is probably double where we thought we’d be. There’s so much we loved and we’re happy to bring them to you.”
The main film event, Philadelphia Film Festival, usually takes place during the month of October.
The lineup held some of the most exciting films heading to theatres and streaming services, from American newfound genres to heart gripping global documentaries and everything in between. Sundance winner “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” starring Dakota Johnson, and John Boyega’s “892” both found themselves high praise from the crowd. The event proved to be just as exciting as advertised with surprising performances.
Hip hop artist Freddie Gibbs shows his acting chops in “Down with the King,” directed by Diego Ongaro. The film is one of humble beginnings as Gibbs plays a successful rapper who leaves it all behind to find peace in a farming community. It’s not a far stretch as many rappers today are finding the peace and stillness in rural farming (Waka Flocka and Rick Ross to name a few.) The film just showcases how breaking free can prove useful to one’s mental health. But the film wasn’t the only film leaning into current events.
Elie Grappe’s debut film, “Olga,” gives life to a story of a 15-year-old Olympian in the midst of training against the backdrop of Ukraine’s pro-Russian government battle. “Navalny” shows viewers one politician’s attempt to beat all election odds against one of the world’s most powerful men, Putin.
For hometown pride, the festival hosted the Philadelphia premiere of Aubery Plaza’s new film, “Emily The Criminal.” From the mind of John Patton Ford, Plaza plays an aspiring artist left to turn to a life of crime to escape debt and the mundane. In such a rare sight, Aubrey Plaza commands the screen with her acting skills and slight trademark deadpan humor.
As the festival came to a close on the third day, films featuring the likes of Alison Brie (“Spin Me Round”) and Maika Monroe (“Watcher”) added a touch of artistic beauty and elegance. The SpringFest proved enough of a glimpse into how the world around us is facing the events that shape our generation. Films and visual media continue to provide the outside world with a viewing glass into the cultures not normally in the spotlight. Despite being such a small event, the SpringFest only provides a slice of what’s to come in the next few months leading up to the major festival season.