The Philadelphia Film Society: Utopia for Cinema Lovers and Creators
by Dariel Figueroa
The Philadelphia Film Society (PFS) is the manna yielded from the golden cinematic deities (Edison, Hitchcock, Welles, the Lumières) which cinephiles, like myself, may nosh upon when those horrible pangs of motion picture monotony arrest the creative essence. Sure, the local multiplex may be full of big-budgeted fare that on some level may quench your thirst for a night of congenial silver screen affairs, but for those in the mood for something more perverse, cerebral, or novel, the PFS may have the nourishment you pine for.
The PFS, founded in 1991, held the first annual Philadelphia Film Festival in 1992. The festival, which has grown into a purveyor of local, national, and international cinema, is the biggest and most exciting cinematic event in the region, showcasing over 100 films each year. Outside of holding the best annual film festival in the region, the non-profit PFS hosts some sort of programming, event, or educational opportunity almost every day of the week.
Two of the society’s most pedagogical programs are the Filmadelphia at the Roxy series, and the 10-Day Film Challenge. The Filmadelphia series provides local filmmakers a venue to screen their latest work while receiving critical feedback from the audience and peers. The 10-Day Film Challenge—a collaborative effort between the PFS and fellow non-profit 10 Day Inc.—entices high school students to write, shoot, edit, and score their own films within the 10-day time limit. Both commendable programs are helping to cultivate the next generation of filmmakers.
For those merely interested in absorbing the celluloid enterprises of other filmmakers, the PFS holds regular screenings of rare, limited, and independent films that are seldom shown elsewhere in the area. In 2013, the PFS made the Roxy Theatre their home base of operations, with films currently playing every night of the week. For those interested in delving deeper into the local cinematic community, society memberships start at $25 for students and go as high as $10,000 for the “Visionary” package, which includes VIP passes, personal screenings, and even a sit-down opportunity with PFS Artistic Director, Michael Lerman.
Beginning April 11th, the Philadelphia Film Festival: Spring Showcase—an extension of the annual film festival—is debuting with a week-long event meant to whet the appetites of those planning on indulging themselves in the grand feast come this fall. While the opening weekend is dedicated to the screenings of 17 current film festival fixtures like Frank and The Double, the rest of the week will consist of a career retrospective on 2014’s Best Director Oscar winner, Alfonso Cuarón (I will, undoubtedly, be fixated to my seat for the screening of Cuarón’s dystopian masterpiece, Children of Men).
Tickets are now on sale for the Spring Showcase, and submissions for the annual Philadelphia Film Festival (Oct 16-26) are currently being accepted. For more information on the Spring Showcase, the Philadelphia Film Festival, or any of the bevy of screenings and programs the PFS offers, visit www.filmadelphia.org.