Temple film students are gaining exposure in Philadelphia and beyond through the Solstice Film Series, a monthly event that showcases independent cinema from local artists.
Solstice held its sixth screening on Nov. 15 at the National Mechanics Bar and Restaurant in Old City.
“If you’re new, Philly is definitely a film culture-friendly place, but there is really only the Philly Film Fest or the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival,” said former Temple student Sam Sero. “There aren’t a lot of other options. What’s great is that it’s held at a venue that will definitely attract people. It’s a great social gathering and it’s a great place to get out and spread the word.”
Sero, 23, participated in Temple’s Los Angeles Internship Program instead of graduating last May. His senior film project, Refuge, first got exposure from the Solstice Film Series.
“It’s a dark, surreal, comedic piece about paranoia and takes place under a guy’s coffee table,” Sero said.
Refuge has political connotations and draws parallels to post-9/11 paranoia, but Sero said his films are like inkblots that an audience can interpret in its own way.
“What I love most is hearing people give their interpretations of what the film means to them,” Sero said.
Refuge resonated enough with audiences to be showcased for a second time at the most recent Solstice Screening, and it has also been selected for England’s International Film Festival. Sero is just one – among a handful of other Temple students – who has made a name for himself through the Solstice Film Series.
Robert Judge, a grad of Temple’s Class of 2006, also benefited from having his film Thinking About Women premiered at Solstice. The film is about a guy who misinterprets his relationship with his friend’s mother and falls in love with her.
“I got some contacts and met a bunch of people who screen other films, so it was shown at other places as well,” Judge said. “The art community in Philadelphia isn’t really that big, but Solstice brings people together who are interested in different mediums.”
Aspiring Philly filmmaker Mike Land created the Solstice Film Series as a headache-free way for new artists to premiere their work
“The hope is to bridge together all the different mediums,” Land said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an artist or a painter or a musician.”
While some may market Philadelphia as a hotbed for creativity, Land said that the artistic community lacks cohesion.
“My final goal is to eliminate the hegemony of certain big artists in the city,” Land said. “Indie rock rarely plays with jazz, it’s like oil and water. But if you could invite a certain group in the spirit of equality – musicians who don’t care about writing stories and writers who don’t care about the music scene – it doesn’t have to be pretentious.”
Temple alumnus Aaron Leichter, 23, had his film Good Morning Roscoe showcased at Solstice in September, but could not comment on the turnout or response – he had already moved to Los Angeles after graduation. Leichter works at a small visual effects company that has Smallville, Pushing Daisies and Rush Hour 3 on its résumé.
“I think that where Temple excels is in breeding artists,” Leichter said. “There are a lot of people who support the independent approach to filmmaking, who are not only concerned in what your movie looks like, but also what it says and how it’s saying it.”
“The program at Temple is very much a production program that leans more toward the independent film style and less toward the Hollywood type,” he said. “The faculty at Temple is amazing, with backgrounds in art, painting, documentaries, and they all put their two cents in.”
The next Solstice Screening will be Dec. 20, and will showcase 10 Jakes, the newest film from Land’s Aegis Entertainment.
Jimmy Viola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.