CineFest 2011 offers the city a rebellious film festival that will highlight more than 60 films.
Movie buffs no longer have to travel to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival because Philadelphia is taking over the film festival scene.
Through April 14, Philadelphia is hosting CineFest 2011, the rebellious spawn of the Philadelphia Film Festival.
“CineFest is eight nights and seven days of world class, international, Hollywood blockbuster movies and kick-ass parties in Philly,” artistic director Josh Goldbloom said.
“The goal is for CineFest to become one of the landmark film festivals in the United States but with an edgier side than all of the others,” Goldbloom added. “We are catering to youth-oriented films, but the focus on international films is still prevalent.”
Featuring more than 60 films that range from Asian action adventures and sci-fi horror shows to American indies and documentaries, CineFest appeals to audiences of every genre.
“I have seen what arts and culture can do to an economy,” Goldbloom said. “After experiencing the recession of Austin, Texas, I witnessed how people flock to theaters for an escape. CineFest has provided everybody the outlet to create and showcase their style. There is something for everyone.”
The first sellout of Cinefest, “Cost of a Soul,” tells the gritty tale of two Iraq war veterans who return home to Philadelphia, only to realize they have entered the war raging throughout the inner city.
“‘Cost of a Soul’ is a juxtaposition of two different wars,” director Edward Eberwine said. “It discusses the topics of violence and crime, which don’t get discussed enough in Philly.”
“This is a great story that shows how the everyday, run-of-the-mill Joe has to struggle in North Philly to rise above the problems of living in a violent society,” Eberwine added.
“Cost of a Soul” and CineFest were the perfect match, Eberwine and Goldbloom said.
“When we made the film in 2009, we shot it in Philly because it was written about Philly,” Eberwine said. “It was a no-brainer that we screen it in Philly.”
“We have the hometown advantage and support from the people,” Eberwine added. “CineFest has made us feel welcome.”
“Philly is such a blue collar market,” Goldbloom said. “CineFest illustrates Philly’s tough, rugged vibe that the outside world sees, but once you enter you realize the heart of the city and people.”
In addition to screening movies, CineFest is adding legitimacy to the festival atmosphere by holding a free CineFest street fair outside the Ritz Five, which will include music, food, vendors, comedians and interviews with the filmmakers.
After watching movies for a week, CineFest realizes that exercise is crucial; therefore, a martial-arts festival at the Piazza will also be featured.
“Some knowledgeable people have been running this festival for a long time,” Goldbloom said. “Since this is my first year as artistic director, they have become my mentors. Honest to God, this is the best team I have ever worked with in my life. For three months we have been working every day, all night long, and everyone still keeps a smile on their face. CineFest has been the hardest, yet most fun experience of my life.”
Despite a 20-minute delay due to technical difficulties, opening night at the Ritz East theater featured a full capacity crowd lined up to see the stoner comedy, “The Catechism Cataclysm.”
“Technical problems happen,” attendee Chris Lopez said. “Sure, it was awkward when the crowd became rowdy, but I enjoyed the movie and thought it was a good laugh.”
Starring Steve Little from HBO’s “Eastbound & Down” and Robert Longstreet from “Pineapple Express,” “The Catechism Cataclysm” is a tale about an unhappy priest (Little) going on a retreat with his childhood hero and sister’s ex-boyfriend (Longstreet), during which dropping a bible in the toilet foreshadows the canoe trip from hell.
“We’re very excited tonight because you are our first real audience since I doubt you are all here for distribution and marketing purposes,” director Todd Rohal said.
After the credits rolled and the laughter ceased, Rohal and the cast conducted a question-and-answer session with the audience. When asked how he developed the film, Rohal mentioned Japanese culture and interesting priest stories as his inspiration.
“I wanted to make a movie that couldn’t be summed up in a sentence,” Rohal said.
Little revealed why he chose to participate in the movie.
“I read a script about a priest who dropped his bible in the toilet and asked my mom if it was funny,” Rohal said. “The experience needs to be watched in order to understand it.”
CineFest charges $10 admission to the general public for daily screenings and $15 for closing night.
The venues showcasing the films include the Ritz East Theater at 125 S. Second St., the Trocadero at 1002 Arch St., the Painted Bride at 230 Vine St. and the Piazza at Schmidt’s at Second Street and Germantown Avenue.
John Corrigan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.