Earning a film degree to work in an office wasn’t part of Alex Gibson’s original plan.
But seven months ago, Gibson, a Temple alumna, was hired full-time as the office manager and volunteer coordinator for the Philadelphia Film Society, which is preparing to host the 22nd annual Philadelphia Film Festival from Oct. 17-27.
Regardless of her initial feelings, she said she’s had a change of heart since then.
“This is nothing like what I was hoping to do when I entered film school, but I feel fortunate to be a part of it now,” Gibson said.
The festival will showcase films that have been selected from all over the world at different venues throughout the city, such as the Prince Street Music Theater and the Ritz at the Bourse. It will also feature tours of PFS’ soon-to-open theater at the Roxy, which will bring independent and art house films to the city all year-round.
“PFS has very little to do with actually making films – we focus on helping as many people as possible see the films others make,” Gibson said. “One of film’s greatest strengths is creating community and bringing people together, and PFS tries to facilitate that.”
“Our goal every year is to expose people to a diverse selection of films that they may never see in Philadelphia again,” said Parinda Patel, PFS’ Managing Director.
Patel, along with Marketing Coordinator Mariah Weiler, round out Temple’s contributions to PFS’ staff. Both Patel and Gibson started out at the festival by interning there as juniors and now both play pivotal roles in the organization’s operations team. And as a journalism student, Patel said she is grateful for her time at Temple.
“I had great PR professors while at Temple – Rosemary Rys and Greg Feistman – and definitely apply a lot of what they taught me to my work today,” Patel said.
Gibson and Patel also both expressed excitement over the PFF on the U.S. free ticketing program, which will allow free viewing of a film in the American Independent or Documentary section of the festival. The Philadelphia Film Society has expanded their Filmadelphia Education program which offers free tickets to educational institutions all over the city.
Stuart Connelly’s “The Suspect” is available to see free of charge through PFS. “The Suspect” is a race-driven crime drama that was filmed near Morgantown. Connelly, whose wife is from the Philadelphia area, said he is excited to be able to show his film here.
“To show the hometown crowd what we made Pennsylvania look like – it’s pretty gorgeous,” Connelly said. “I’m very happy to show it to people.”
And Temple has a direct connection to Connelly’s film. Current students, who heard about the project through Craigslist and the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, worked on the film as production assistants and in the office, helping with everything from set and props to dressing and secretarial work.
“People fell in love with the stuff and wanted to come out.” Connelly said. “It was fantastic. It was a pretty big crew.”
One of the many other films that people would be able to see for free is the documentary “We Cause Scenes: The Rise of Improv Everywhere.” The film tracks the journey of the hit YouTube channel Improv Everywhere to its current legendary status as professional pranksters. True to PFS’ desire to bring a diversity of films to Philadelphia, Director Matt Adams believes his film won’t be an ordinary documentary.
“So much of the time, documentaries are about the darker sides of life,” Adams said. “‘We Cause Scenes’ is not that kind of film. If you’re looking for a film that will make you laugh from start to finish and hopefully inspire you to be more creative.”
Nathan Landis Funk can be reached at email@example.com.