Film festival highlights both fledgling and established artists

The Philadelphia Film Festival began its 14th run on Thursday, April 7. The festival is dedicated to showcasing a wide variety of projects from all over the world and is quickly becoming one of the hottest film festivals in the country.

Opening night festivities included a film screening and party. Since opening night, the festival has been showing films in four different theaters located in Philadelphia. The Ritz East, Prince Music Theater, The International House and The Bridge hosted some of the outstanding films in this year’s festival.

There are 12 thematic categories of films that the festival highlights, including Animation and Short Programs, Cinema of the Muslim Worlds, New Korean Cinema, the Documentary Tradition and American Discoveries. The festival shows nearly 275 films.

Many of the screenings include a question-and-answer period after the film and there are also panels and forums available for the festival attendees. Special guests of the festival include director Gregg Araki, Roc-A-Fella CEO Damon Dash, actor David Duchovny and director and actor Todd Solondz.

The festival shows an assortment of films coming from 40 countries. Filmmakers and actors range in experience levels, from the highly accomplished to those at the beginning of their film careers.

The Artistic Achievement Award was presented to Malcolm McDowell on Friday, April 15, just prior to a screening of “A Clockwork Orange.” McDowell (“Blue Thunder,” “Star Trek: Generations,” “Gangster No.1,” “The Company,” “In Good Company”) was chosen for his ability to play numerous roles and for his international success. Previous Artistic Achievement Award winners include Alan Rudolph (2003) and Mary-Louise Parker (2004).

On Monday, April 18, the American Independents Award was presented to Steve Buscemi. Buscemi, who has become a cultural icon thanks to his excellent acting ability and prolific involvement in the cinema (films include “Mystery Train,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “The Hudsucker Proxy,” “Fargo,” “Ghost World” and “Coffee and Cigarettes”), was chosen for his dedication to American cinema. Although recognized more as an actor, Buscemi has also written, directed and produced films, succeeding in both the independent and mainstream film worlds. A previous winner of the award was John Sayles in 2002.

In addition to the Artistic Achievement Award and American Independents Award, films of exceptional merit are also awarded. These awards are broken into two categories – the Juried Competition and Audience Awards.

The festival will come to a close on Wednesday, April 20 with a screening of “Music from the Inside Out,” a documentary about the Philadelphia Orchestra. If you missed the festival this year, be sure to keep next April open – the Philadelphia Film Festival looks as though it will only get bigger.

– More information about the Philadelphia Film Festival can be found at