The Philadelphia film scene has been going through some rough times of late. In early 2009, the two primary driving forces behind the festival had some sort of hissy fit. The Philadelphia Film Society and TLA Video decided to part ways. TLA vowed to put on the regularly scheduled Spring festival, now dubbed Cinefest, while the weakened PFS decided to relocate to the fall (since last year was the first, it was a bit small, but I actually had a much better time at the 18½ Philadelphia Film Festival than the earlier Cinefest). Quite frankly the details of the spat between PFS and TLA escape me, but it does seem to be putting the hurt on Philly film culture…
Earlier this year, TLA canceled the 2010 Cinefest, citing financial woes. The PFS stepped in and put together a 3 day free event, but that doesn’t really qualify as a full fledged festival. Due to the last minute nature of the event and the fact that it was free (plus the fact that the featured films didn’t seem all that special), I decided to avoid the crowds and wait for the fall festival.
In the meantime, my favorite part of the TLA festival seems to have broken off on its own. The Danger After Dark series made a name for itself by featuring all sorts of crazy horror, gangster and exploitation cinema. This year, they’re piggy-backing off of the Philly QFest, a GLBT festival (though the themes of the DAD films don’t seem to have anything to do with GLBT). 11 movies, 11 nights. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn’t seem to inspire me very much, though there are some interesting films featured:
- Vengeance: I’ve already mentioned this as one of my Top 5 Most Anticipated Summer Movies, so naturally this is my most anticipated movie on the list. If it’s made by Johnny To, I’m there.
- Dogtooth: I’m not really positive what this is about, but the premise seems promising:
Three young adults – two sisters and a brother – have spent their whole lives within the confines of the family estate, and they know nothing of the outside world, from which they have been entirely sheltered: the grounds are surrounded by a massive fence, the phone is hidden from them, their only entertainment consists of home videos of themselves, and all references to the outside have been removed.
Not sure what to make of that, but it sounds interesting enough that I might check it out.
- Gone with the Pope: A long-lost 70s grindhouse epic, released for the first time. It apparently concerns mobsters on a mission to kidnap the Pope (“I want a dollar from every Catholic in the world!”)
- RoboGeisha: The first in a pair of seemingly outrageous Japanese schlock-fests, this one appears to be about, well, a group of Japanese girls who are transformed into mechanized geisha assassins. Duh.
- Big Tits Zombie 3-D: The second of the aforementioned insane Japanese schlock-fests, the title of this one pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
So we’ve got one movie I am definitely interested in (Vengeance) a couple that sound interesting but which I’m not sure I’d love (Dogtooth and Pope) and a double feature destined for the I’m Not Scared Enough of the Japanese file. Perhaps if it didn’t involve a trip into the city and parking and whatnot (and the fact that all the movies are on separate days, so I can’t double up), I would see the films above, but at this point, I’ll probably only see one or two of them.
I’m hoping at some point that TLA and PFS can kiss and make up or something, because this used to be a pretty great film town, but things don’t seem to be looking up of late. I guess we’ll see how the fall festival goes (after all, I did really enjoy the 18½ Philadelphia Film Festival last year), but maybe it’s time to branch out and take a trip to Toronto or Austin (for Fantastic Fest)…