Saturday, June 28, 2008

Philadelphia Independent Film Reaches Cruising Altitude

June 28th, 2008 Philadelphia, PA: Since Thursday the Northern Liberties neighborhood in Philadelphia has added to the heat as the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival’s much anticipated lift off has achieved cruising altitude.

Extolling the virtues and defining the requirements of the authentic Philadelphia cheesesteak, “This is My Cheesesteak” launched viewings at the Media Bureau venue. At the same time, 3 blocks away, “Flowers for Rwanda” suppressed the people’s appetite with a thoughtful challenge to respond to global culture’s failure to prevent genocide. An hour later, 941 Theatre presented “Over the River,” a child-centered view of the Civil War and its aftermath.

“Green Guerrillas” followed "This is My Cheese Steak" with a sizable entourage. There was a fascinating convergence of this organic lifestylist movement and the political-corporate community with the generous sponsorship by SEPTA of the film festival and its inclusion in the program schedule of a new ad campaign connecting bus ridership to green as a “rallying cry to promote environmental consciousness.”

At Media Bureau, “Ode to Peace” presented a patriotic sideshow of close-up trauma inflicted on American soldiers in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Other excellent activizing films included “Killer at Large” and “At Home in Utopia.” The first did an amazing job of linking obesity, the energy crisis, corn sweetener, and agricultural exports to the obesity epidemic which it covered at a graphic fine-grain level that included live footage of a liposuction procedure and its byproducts. General Hospital never showed it like this. The film on utopia was an awe-inspiring look back at the history of Jewish Radicalism in America that was crucial to understanding the power, beauty, and foibles of this unique American heritage.

Meanwhile, at Media Bureau’s FreeRadLab CafĂ©, film makers, festival organizers, industry experts, and neighborhood citizens rapped past and current film making experiences, plans, local film industry economics, success tips, and the extension of films into cinematically-inspired politics. Obama’s campaign sent in an activist organizer while McCain’s office appeared to be stuck in Harrisburg. Nonetheless, a McCain supporter promised to enliven the continuing free-rad lab discussions of the relationship between film making and current socio-political concerns.

All in all, 19 movies were shown on Thursday and 56 on Friday. Today the festival is projected to show 40 and 38 tomorrow. More film- and freeradlab-inspired comments to follow.

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