STORY WRITTEN BY NATHAN LERNER
For 21st Century Media
Extending over the course of 11 days, this year’s Philadelphia Film Festival will include nearly 100 feature length titles. The festival runs Oct. 16-26.
The program for the 23rd edition of the festival will once again be decidedly eclectic. Among the foreign fare, there will be sections specifically devoted to New French Films, Spanish Language Stories, and Cinema Down Under, with works from Australia. These showcases will be augmented with films from such countries as Japan, India, Ukraine, Israel, Brazil, Denmark, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and the Ivory Coast.
Ambler native Andrew Greenblatt, will serve as the executive director of the cinematic smorgasbord for the sixth time. Upon assuming the helm, he spearheaded the festival’s move from an annual springtime affair to a fall event.
Asked what he considered to be the key to the festival’s success, Greenblatt opined, “At the end of the day, I think it all comes down to what we deliver. Each year, the programming team does an incredible job putting together an exciting, highly-anticipated program, while the operations team works hard to create a smooth and enjoyable experience for all festival-goers. When people have a positive take-away, that creates loyalty and longevity.”
Greenblatt cited an unprecedented difference in this year’s festival, two films on opening night. He explained, “We were lucky to land two incredible films, “St. Vincent” and “Birdman.” He predicted, “Having them play back-to-back at the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center, followed by the Opening Night party upstairs, should make for a fantastic evening.”
The festival will include 8 U.S. premieres and 2 world premieres. It will also encompass 8 films, which have been nominated by their country for the Foreign Language Academy Award. This includes, Cannes standouts. “Two Days, One Night,” “Gett,” “Mommy,” “Force Majeure,” and Palme d’Or winner, “Winter Sleep.” Greenblatt praised another festival film, “Happy Valley.” According to Greenblatt, “It’s an incredibly strong and balanced documentary on Penn State and the recent scandal.”
Seeking the best films is key to the festival.
“We don’t really focus on an annual theme. Instead, the programming team just strives to bring some of the best films from around the world to Philadelphia. This allows audiences to be entertained and educated,” according to Greenblatt.
Greenblatt waxed philosophical, “In my opinion, film is the most accessible form of art. It is easy for someone to watch a film and have an opinion, even with no prior background. As such, it is a great way for people to experience other cultures or learn more about key issues of the day. That said, film is not only educational, but it is also truly an art form. From cinematography to sound design, storytelling to visual effects, the amount of talent that goes into making a film is immense.”
And, there are also many involved in putting the festival together. Greenblatt praised the contribution of volunteers to the festival. “They are critical to the festival, helping us in all facets of operations. Frankly, we couldn’t run without them,” he said. “They help with box office, venue management, guest services, print trafficking and everything in-between. Volunteers are truly a part of the festival team.”
The festival team’s work is multifaceted.
“With more than 200 screenings, I know that it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the festival. The programming team works hard to make selection as simple as possible,” Greenblatt said. “Films are grouped into categories. So, if you know you like a certain type of film, you can feel free to select films in this category.”
And, the festival is about more than just seeing a film. It’s a full cinematic experience, according to Greenblatt. “People love to chat in line about what they’ve seen and enjoyed, filmmakers come to participate in post-screening Q&As,” Greenblatt said. “The festival is full of great receptions and events throughout.”
“If you enjoy film, then take the chance, come down, and give into the experience.” “You won’t regret it!,” Greenblatt said.
For more information on the Philadelphia Film Festival, visit filmadelphia.org.