Bringing flicks back to W. Chester

The third annual West Chester Film Festival
kicks off Oct. 6, and the event’s public relations director, John Cigler, promises some big changes for this year’s festivities.

“We added three workshops run by industry
professionals and received more entries
from around the country and around the world that are fantastic,” Cigler said.

Entries for the festival hail from New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, along with short films from Australia, Italy, Mexico, South Korea and Spain. Submissions also came locally from college students in the Greater Philadelphia area.

“Pears,” by Temple filmmaker Heidi Saman
will be screened opening night.

“The quality of the entries has definitely increased since last year’s festival,” Cigler said.

On the final evening of the festival, awards will be given out to the best and brightest of the screened films. A “Chester” trophy for each genre will be handed out along with awards for “Best Film by a Woman Filmmaker,” “Best Student Film,” “Best Pennsylvania Filmmaker” and “People’s Choice.”

This year, the workshops are receiving as much positive publicity as the films themselves.

“We are actually becoming known for our workshops,” Cigler said. “They are free and run by industry professionals.”

The comedy troupe “Secret Pants” will take the lead in this year’s series of free workshops.

Based in Philadelphia, many of its 13 members met at Temple.

Their workshop will pit two teams against one another. The teams will consist of audience members and members of “Secret Pants.”

Together, the teams will write and perform
a comedic script they create as a group. Prizes will be awarded to the funniest production, but all participants will walk away from the workshop with a greater understanding and respect for the process of improvisational production.

Another workshop features experimental
video artist George Bobby Jones. Jones will examine the beginnings of experimental art and its influence on contemporary cinema. A respected artist based in New York City, Jones will also screen his film, “A Conversation with Bill Viola,” for eager festivalgoers.

For aspiring actors and their parents, child actor Charlie McDermott and his father will host a discussion about child actors.

The McDermotts will offer an informative
yet humorous perspective on the process and pitfalls of becoming an actor during adolescence.

McDermott is currently filming “The Ten” alongside Jessica Alba and Winona Ryder, which hits theaters next year.

For Cigler, the festival gives filmmakers and West Chester itself a chance for recognition.

“West Chester used to have five movie theatres, and now we have none,” Cigler said.

“We wanted to make a film festival that would show everyone that there is a need for films in the borough of West Chester, and provide a unique festival for independent short films.”

Marta Rusek can be reached at

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