Back in April when I announced the Philadelphia Cinefest lineup, I described the Philly filmmaking and more specifically, the film programming scene as, "a bunch of lone rabid dogs fighting over a rotten steak that fell out of a delivery truck en route to New York."
Little did I know that article would circulate locally as much as it did, before I knew it, I had major players in the Philadelphia film scene throwing me both accolades and condemations for my assessment of my home town. It's not very different from any of my other articles on this site really, high praise and higher criticism seems to be a consistent trend for my writing.
Since April, I've been privy to a lot more behind the scenes drama and my opinion still stands. For a short time, I thought years of combatant competition and irreconcilable differences within our film scene were finally coming to an end. I almost thought that Philly was on its way to building a fortress of solidarity that would make us a cultural force to be reckoned with.... Well, I can't expect decades of bad habits to resolve itself in a few short weeks. We remain a strange, angry, and overtly aggressive group of people here.
But from all the high drama and turmoil, Josh Goldbloom, former artistic director of Cinefest and founder of PUFF (Philadelphia Underground Film Festival), has given birth to Awesome Fest, home of everything awesome.
Awesome Fest isn't really a traditional film festival per say, more so, Josh and partners are continuing to try and build a larger year round film appreciation community here in the city of brotherly fuck you. There are few venues and outlets for independent film in Philadelphia. This is a city about niche programming. We have a popular organization dedicated to repertory horror and a few rat tag groups that specialize in small guerrilla style screenings of experimental and radically political films, but that's about it.
Like myself, Josh has spent a fair amount of time in Austin, a city that thanks to Tim and Carrie League, has become the new Mecca for indie filmmaking and presentation in the states. Who would have ever thought that a small liberal oasis located in the heart of Cowboy/Republican asshole Texas would surpass New York City as the hippest and strongest influence on national film trends?
Well, Josh has long been aiming to replicate the communal film culture of Austin and appears to be getting a lot closer with Awesome Fest.
Josh's kick off campaign is a weekly, summer long presentation of some of the hottest American indies you haven't heard of yet. Every Sunday, Awesome Fest will present FREE outdoor screenings in a lively environment with contests, interactive performances, and celebrity appearances. Let me iterate one of the most important parts of this, it's FREE!
Which is also why Josh is also in the process of fundraising to ensure that Awesome Fest continues to move forward through the Summer and into the rest of the year. Like I said, we don't have any Alamos here, we don't really even have any traditional screening spaces left for presenting film independently. We're just now building them on our own and it's goddamn expensive! By that same token, if there are any rich older women looking to fund film projects in Philly, I am single and willing. Blogging and whoring are one and the same anyway.
There are also some as of yet unannounced events planned that I know of firsthand that are sure to give League and company a run for their money in the cool and inventive department. And I'm happy to say, ScreenAnarchy will play a large part in a lot of this.
With the return of Travis Crawford's Danger After Dark, the PJAM Japanese film and music festival, and Josh Goldbloom's Awesome Fest, this summer is going to get hot and dare I say, AWESOME!
Philly is well on its way to becoming a city to keep a keen eye on. If you're in the Greater Philadelphia Region, you owe it to yourself to check out the full film list at www.theawesomefest.com, there are some real gems here.
Per the official press release...
"(PHILADELPHIA, PA) June 5, 2011 - Co-presented with NYC's Rooftop Films, and sponsored by Scrapple.TV, DIVE/Shooters, and PhillyCarShare, The Awesome Fest was founded in 2010 as the Philadelphia Underground Film Festival by Artistic Director Josh Goldbloom (formerly of Philadelphia Cinefest).
The 2011 series aims to not only screen some of the finest independent cinema in some of Philadelphia's most exciting venues, but to build events around the screenings by bringing in filmmakers and artists who were involved with the features. For example, Jinxed/The Toothless Cat will host artist Christiaan Zwaniiken's work when he attends a screening of Convento; close to ten wrestlers from the Millenium Wrestling Federation will accompany director Robert Greene when we screen Fake it so Real. Additional events will be announced as the summer progresses, including a star-studded closing night finale."