FirstGlance Film Festival, Philadelphia’s Independent Film Festival since 1996, is holding its 23rd annual indie film fest, Friday, November 13th through Sunday, November 15th at the iconic Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA and virtually, November 10th to 15th, on the digital platform itsashort.com.
Included in 2020’s selections are films with ties to the Philadelphia area:
Michael Marc Friedman – Kensington – Born and raised in Philadelphia, writer and lead actor Michael Marc Friedman began his theatre training at Fordham University and is a lifetime member of The Actor’s Studio. He graduated from the New York Neighborhood Playhouse while performing stand-up in NYC. In Kensington, Mike plays Bobby, the first client of therapist Doug Harper, who just relocated to Kensington. Bobby is hiding a “secret” that could derail his marriage to his high school sweetheart. Mike brings Bobby to life with heart, soul, and humor because of his Philly roots and its never-give-up attitude. Mike has also guest-starred on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Exes, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and NCIS.
Todd Wolfe – We Need to Talk – Writer/Director Todd Wolfe and Producer Paul Irwin shot We Need to Talk entirely in the Philadelphia area with Fishtown as the principal backdrop for the film. The filmmaking team, including Executive Producer Ray Carballada, are all longstanding members of the Greater Philadelphia film community and have collaborated on numerous projects here over the years. Cast locally by Heery Loftus Casting, the film features a multitude of Philly talent in addition to leads James Maslow, Emily Bett Rickards, Johnathan Fernandez, Christel Khalil, and Tray Chaney. The filmmakers also enlisted the support of the GPFO and took advantage of Philadelphia’s roster of crew, vendors, and post-production facilities. Executive Produced by AmpiFLY, an emerging media and content company based in Old City, We Need to Talk centers on a self-absorbed celebrity gamer who speaks to millions of fans every day but is forced to figure out how to communicate to the people around him before he loses them.
Jules Lipoff – Woke – Woke, about a guy who gets fired after sharing a racist slur with his Black co-workers but is given the option to keep his job if he participates in an experimental trial for a pill that cures racism, was written, directed, and produced by Philadelphia’s Jules Lipoff. Shot entirely on location in University City, most of the cast and crew including the other producers, Sam Watson (also co-writer); Page Peter Wilson (also actor); director of photography Eric Lovett; and lead actors Tatiana St. Phard, and Jonathan Davis, also live in the Philadelphia area.
Viren Shinde – Luna – Written and directed by Viren Shinde and produced by Philly’s Null Pointer Films, LLC, Luna is about a new artificially intelligent robot here to help individuals become their best professional selves who finds that her creators care about nothing more than making money. The film was shot entirely at a video lab at Temple University and all of the cast, including Yae Stratton (Luna), Krystle Ann Griffin (Karen), and Leary McDonald (Kabir) are from Philadelphia.
Kashmir Alston, Melvin Floyd, and Elijah McFarland – Our Philadelphia – Directed by three seniors from a West Philadelphia high school, this short documentary by Alston, Floyd, and McFarland features interviews done with their friends and classmates as they explore neighborhood gun violence and what the losses mean to the people most affected by it. Edited by Philly-based creative agency Draulhaus and produced by Nora Gross, a sociologist and documentary filmmaker who was then completing her PhD at Penn, Our Philadelphia also features original music made by other young Philadelphia artists about their experiences with gun violence.
Bill Nicoletti – Once in a Hundred Years: The Life & Legacy of Marian Anderson – With over 75 National Awards for excellence in film and television production spanning a 30-year-career, Philly native Bill Nicoletti started his production company at Sigma Sound Studios under the guidance of Music Hall Hall of Fame engineer and Sigma founder Joe Tarsia in 1990. Bill’s directorial debut, Once in a Hundred Years, shares the story of Marian Anderson, a young girl from South Philadelphia who, armed with only a voice, fought to break down one of the most daunting barriers closed to Black Americans in the 1930s – the classical music stage. Bill is in production on his second film, The Sound of Philadelphia: Wake up Everybody, partnering with recording artist John Legend as his executive producer.
Cameron Toft, Ryan Lieberman, Tenzin Samphel, Anthony Buonpastore, and Zach Matthew – Urban Canvas – Breadboi Productions is the five student film crew of Toft, Lieberman, Samphel, Buonpastore and Matthew attending Temple University’s communications school who are behind Urban Canvas, a deep dive into the eclectic world of Philadelphia street art and public art. Utilizing the stunning visuals of Philadelphia in tandem with compelling interviews with artists, journalists, and more, the documentary consults some of the best authorities in public art and street art, thoroughly exploring this eclectic, ever-changing, and exciting art scene.
Jill Frechie, John Ricciutti, and Isaac Mell – Kensington in Crisis – Producer/Program Director Jill Frechie, Editor Isaac Mell, and MainLineTV Host and Producer John Ricciutti comprise the local, award-winning filmmaking team behind the documentary, Kensington in Crisis. Between the filmmakers, they’ve produced, directed, and edited short and full length documentaries, promo/marketing videos, and feature films which have won numerous Telly and Emmy awards and festival laurels. With music direction by David Uosikkinen (The Hooters), Kensington in Crisis sheds light on the issues, problems, and solutions in Kensington as all of America looks to Philadelphia to quickly find answers to the opioid overdose epidemic.
Bradley Hawkins – Calf Rope – Since retiring from teaching film studies, Lancaster’s Bradley Hawkins has resumed his acting and directing career with the short film, Calf Rope. Set in the summer of ’66, the film centers on a former rodeo champion and cattle auctioneer from Oklahoma who bonds tightly with his young grandson from suburban Pennsylvania while teaching him a few tricks from his previous trades. Shot entirely in rural PA, the film captures the intense love that grandparents often share with their grandchildren and the legacy that lives on long after they have gone.
Tickets are on sale now at https://thecolonialtheatre.com/programs/firstglance-film-festival/.