Karen Gillan and Andrew Greenblatt posed during the Closing Night Awards Ceremony at the 27th Philadelphia Film Festival
The show must go on. The Philadelphia Film Festival is committed to delivering award-winning, international cinema to viewers for their 29th year. We spoke with J. Andrew Greenblatt, CEO and executive director of the Philadelphia Film Festival, about this year’s offerings, unspooling October 23 - November 2 (filmadelphia.org).
How has the Philadelphia Film Festival adapted to the pandemic?
The biggest thing is that we are not using any physical theaters this year, which is a first for us. We are using a hybrid model instead where the majority of our screenings are going to be available on our new digital streaming platform, which can be accessed by our festival website, as well as through our custom apps on Roku and Apple TV. Additionally, we have nightly screenings at our PFS Drive-In at the Navy Yard.
Tell me about this year’s film lineup.
We have about 90 feature films right now and 25 shorts with the vast majority of them available on the streaming platform. We have a track record of being the Philadelphia premieres for a lot of films that go on to be successful in the awards season, and I think this year we may continue that trend. We have this film called Nomadland, which won the top award at the Venice Film Festival and then at the Toronto Film Festival. It's a really stunning film starring Frances McDormand that I think is going to be one of the most anticipated films of the year.
We have a film called One Night in Miami, which is Regina King's directorial debut. It's about the night that Muhammad Ali, wins the heavyweight championship of the world for the first time and he goes back to a hotel room to be with his friends, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X. It's a really interesting, powerful and timely film.
Talk to me about the streaming platform.
What's really exciting is that we get to be more accessible and more inclusive than ever because of this platform. We're in people's homes. So anyone, anywhere in the greater Philadelphia area can access these films. The majority of the films on the platform can be accessed from anywhere in the country. So we can cater to people who have been interested in our festival from coast to coast. With a normal film festival in theaters, films are scheduled. We wanted to keep as much of that as we could so we still have release times for films. Let’s say a movie is Saturday night at 7:30 pm. That is when we release it and it is available to be streamed. It has a limited capacity just as if it were in a theater. Only a specific number of streams are available for each movie.
Tell me about PFS’s Halloween Event.
I have kids and Halloween's been on my mind for a while because how are you actually going to have a standard Halloween this year? You can’t. Since the festival is over Halloween we thought, ‘What can we do for the community involving film for families, for adults on Halloween?’ Halloween at the Drive-in is what we came up with. We're screening two different films; Monster House for families with younger kids and PG: Psycho Goreman for families with older kids. They're both going to be free for people to claim tickets. People can come in costume. We'll find a way to give out candy and really give families some type of Halloween experience.
Photography by: Courtesy of the Philadelphia Film Festival