In recent years, few things have indicated a film’s artistic merit and positive critical reception as strongly as a film festival stamp on the film’s poster — you know, those logos of curved olive branches with text in their centers? Naturally, then, it should be exciting to cinephiles such as myself that one such festival is local to our town, the West Chester Film Festival. What is more exciting is that the WCFF is returning to town for its fifteenth incarnation from Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28.
Boasting the slogan, “Small Town, Big Film,” the WCFF was established in 2005 as an effort to entertain, enlighten and educate the public through the presentation of global independent, innovative short films and interactive workshops. On more immediate terms, the short-term goal of WCFF is to present a self-sustaining, annual film festival that gives a voice to up-and-coming artists. Each year, the WCFF accepts submissions of all genres from around the globe; no film exceeds a 30-minute runtime. Submissions are juried by a panel of industry professionals, and winners are chosen according to content, innovation and technical execution. Each April, the selected films are screened during a three-day weekend that is comprised of numerous film blocks, workshops, pop-ups and special events.
This year’s festival begins with the Opening Night Party at 5:00 P.M., on Friday, April 26, at Align.Space in the Farmers and Mechanics building of downtown West Chester. There, you can join filmmakers, directors and actors as well as fellow guests and sponsors for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. A ticket to the Opening Night Party includes admission to the Festival’s first film block, which begins at 7:00 P.M. at West Chester’s Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center Bravo Mainstage Theater. That film block includes films such as, “The Replacement,” “Cross My Heart” and “The Driver Is Red.” Another film block begins at 9:10 P.M. on the same night.
The second day of the festival begins at 9:30 A.M. with the West Chester Family Film Festival, which screens films that are appropriate for children of ages 10 and under, followed by the West Chester Young Filmmaker Festival, an international selection of films by filmmakers of ages 18 and under. Afterwards, a filmmaking workshop on documentaries is hosted by professional filmmaker, Pat Taggart. Then, after another film block, a pop-up comprised of the year’s best French films is hosted by the French Pâtisserie La Baguette Magique cafe, followed by another craft workshop. This one is hosted by long-time WCFF participant Greg Koorhan and is titled “After You Pull Off Your Shorts: A Filmmaker’s Path.” A meet and greet with the filmmakers is follows Saturday’s final two film blocks. The night concludes with a horror-movie pop-up at the Appalachian Brewing Company, starting at 10:00 P.M.
Christoforos Sassaris is a third-year student majoring in English with a minor in computer science. PS868710@wcupa.edu