Philadelphia’s Film Scene: How a Festival changes everything

Posted on November 24, 2011


On November 3rd, The Philadelphia Film Festival ended its 20th annual showcase. Run by the Philadelphia Film Society, the festival’s milestone year showed close 150 films from different genres. Numerous guests came to see these early previews of buzz-worthy films for the awards season. Many directors and stars arrived in Philly to partake in the festivities including Drake Doremus, Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin who are all part of the cast of Like Crazy while filmmaker Jonathan Demme received an honorary award from the society itself. It is impressive that the film society was able to usher in this landmark event but what does this mean for Philadelphia’s film scene?

   Before I dive into the effect the festival had, one must understand the city’s role in becoming a haven for filmmakers. The city has had a blossoming film presence ever since Rocky, which grew more after the filming of M. Night Shymalan’s The Sixth Sense. These films have paved the way for numerous auteurs to use the city as a completely different landscape. Neil Burger filmed Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, in Philly using certain parts to appear as New York City. Now, The Fighter Director David O. Russell and Cooper have teamed up for the film adaptation of Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook and are filming in the city’s suburbs.

Picture courtest of

   Philadelphia has had six movies which were filmed here break numerous box office records. The Village, Philadelphia, Unbreakable, Signs, National Treasure and The Sixth Sense all have benchmarked the 200 million dollar world gross, solidifying the city as a cultural nesting ground for delivering smart, creative films.

This year, the festival was able to acquire more well-known films, continuing its second year of delivering content that can put it on the same level as festivals like the Cannes or Toronto film festivals. The expert team of programmers led by Andrew Greenblatt, was able to create an excellent lineup this year leading to the highest rate of attendance in the event’s history.

The festival played at the various historical theaters across the city. The Ritz theaters  played some of the most buzzed about films of the festival and awards season including Like Crazy and Coriolanus while the Annenberg Center for Communication on UPenn’s Campus played George Clooney’s  film The Descendants.

The festival has also continued to hold the Greater Filmadelphia category. This section of the festival provided an outlet for audiences to witness the great filmmakers the city has been molding,  as well as  highlighting the elements of the city that make it such a potent filming locale. One of this year’s highlights was a documentary highlighting Joe Frazier’s boxing career.

The festival this year has helped show how powerful the city of Philadelphia is as a film center and cultural haven. The Philadelphia Film Society should be applauded for the work they have done in cultivating the festival into a magnet for powerful cinema and adding another element to Philly’s diverse culture. The film scene has increased exponentially and that reason is because of the festival. Only time will tell but the film scene should increase as the festival progresses.