The Philadelphia Film Society’s 24th Annual Philadelphia Film Festival kicks-off tomorrow October 22nd at the Prince Theater. If you never attended the festival or if it’s been a while, no sweat we got you covered. To get the inside scoop on what to expect from this year’s Philadelphia Film Festival we sat down with the Artistic Director, Michael Lerman.
Mr. Lerman who oversees everything from booking talent, to coordinating the events and even giving input to materials such as brochures, will be putting together perhaps one of the most exciting festivals to date. Film industry movers and shakers such as director Michael Moore, Charlie Kaufman who wrote Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (one of my personal favorites) and funny man Jamie Kennedy.
As a little bit of history behind the festival it was first launched in 1992 by International House of Philadelphia as a 12 day, citywide festival. The Philadelphia Film Society was formed in 2001 to produce the event, renaming it the Philadelphia Film Festival in 2003, featuring over 100 films with an average attendance of 35,000 attendees. Over the last decade, the organization has expanded to a 501(c)3 non-profit with a membership base exceeding 1,000 supporters, holding regular weekly film events throughout the city and began managing the PFS Roxy Theater in January 2014.
The Prince, in conjunction with PFS Roxy Theater, will feature programming by the Philadelphia Film Society that furthers their mission of cultivating an exceptional range of high-quality film that engage, entertain and educate diverse audiences. Additionally, the Prince plans to show first-run films for special engagements throughout the year.
“I was devastated late last year at the thought of the Prince Theater being shuttered because it has been near and dear to my heart for many years,” said Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. “But now, I could not be more relieved, excited or gratified that our beloved theater will continue to be a beacon for the cultural community of Philadelphia. I owe a public thank you to the sellers, buyers and supporters of this transaction for coming together in the fairest and most agreeable way. And I offer a hearty congratulations to Andrew Greenblattand our great friends at the Philadelphia Film Society, and a huge thank you to David Haas for his commitment to film and the performing arts in Philadelphia.”
Since 1984, the American Music Theater Festival and the Prince Music Theaterhelped make Philadelphia into a major center for innovative, ambitious musical theater productions. The theater also has a long history in film, originally opening as the Karlton Theater in 1921 before changing to the Midtown Theater in 1950 where it showed first-run films until 1995. It has launched many premieres, from the world premiere of Beau Brummell starring Stewart Granger and Elizabeth Taylor in 1954 to the more recent premieres of The Words and About Last Night starring Philadelphia’s own Bradley Cooper and Kevin Hart, respectively. Under the direction of PFS, the Prince will continue to be the place where Hollywood comes to in Philadelphia.
“Our primary objective for the Prince is to establish a business model that insures the long-term financial sustainability of the venue via PFS programming, first-run releases and a venue rental program,” said Greenblatt. “Now that we have officially taken over ownership of the Prince, we will be working both internally and with our Philadelphia arts partners to make the Prince the vibrant theater many Philadelphians have been waiting for.”
As an example, one of the first performances at the new Prince Theater will be The Last Jimmy, a hip-hop musical from The Roots’ Dice Raw. The theater will also welcome back long term tenants, such as the Curtis Institute of Music who will be performing at the venue this May, with additional programming to be announced later this spring.
“I am tremendously excited about what this means for the Philadelphia Film Society, the Prince Theater as well as the region’s arts and culture community,” said Wyncote Foundation Board Member David Haas. “No matter how many options we have to view and partake of film media individually, we still want to come together to experience the art, daring and storytelling of film on the big screen and engage as a community. Now, with a state-of-the-art facility at the Prince, film lovers, artists and storytellers will have a permanent home in heart of the city.”
As a critical piece in the vibrant Philadelphia arts and culture community, the Prince will continue to be an important venue for many arts organizations collectively focused on bringing together audiences of all ages and backgrounds to experience the arts on a Philadelphia stage.