The 24th annual FirstGlance Film Festival, Philadelphia’s Independent Film Festival since 1996, returns to the iconic Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA,

October 15-17, 2021. Over forty-five original indie films from Philadelphia and around the world will be in competition during the weekend event.

Selections with ties to the Philadelphia area include:

Kris Roselli – “Hideout” – Kris Roselli is a critically acclaimed writer/director whose work has been gathering recognition. His debut feature film, “Hideout,” is a mystery/thriller/horror about four criminals evading police at a remote farmhouse after fumbling a robbery who discover that the family living there is not who they appear to be. A majority of the cast and crew are Philadelphia, NJ, or DE residents.

Wesley Mellott – “Stalked” – Filmed in the Philadelphia area using all local cast and crew, the short film, “Stalked,” is about a group of Urban Exploration YouTubers who travel to the infamous town of Slaughter Hill, where an entire town seemingly disappeared overnight.

Nick Murphy – “Living in a Bubble” – Are we defined by our work or by our passion? A painter struggles with his “day job” as a kid’s TV show host and wonders if he will still be accepted if he reveals his true self and passion to his audience in the music video for the song “Living in a Bubble” by The Waywoods. FirstGlance Film Fest alumni Nick Murphy directs.

Jill Frechie and John Ricciutti – “Life without Parole: The Story of George Martorano”-

Producer/Program Director Jill Frechie and MainLineTV Host and Producer John Ricciutti co-directed the feature documentary, “Life without Parole: The Story of George Martorano.” The film focuses attention on prison reform and our justice system by highlighting the injustices and sequence of events that kept Philadelphia native George Martorano in federal prison for over three decades. The award-winning filmmaking pair are FirstGlance alumni. Their Telly Award- winning and Emmy nominated documentary, “Kensington in Crisis,” was a 2020 official selection.

Jake Savitz – “Party of None: Catering During a Pandemic” – The story of Catering By Design, a small catering company in Philadelphia that found itself at a crossroads, “Party of None” highlights how the company was forced to think creatively while idle in COVID-19 limbo, making meals for a new client: the food insecure. The film is Savit’s first independent documentary.

Joe Quint – “Hello Sunshine” – Joe Quint is a documentary filmmaker and photographer who graduated from Temple University. His most recent film project, “Hello Sunshine,” profiles Roz Pichardo, a woman who has survived decades of gun violence and domestic violence trauma and has channeled these traumas into service – saving the lives of those in active opioid addiction and supporting the families of murder victims.

Jon Rehr – “How Long Until” – Jon Rehr is a Philadelphia-based director that loves to collaborate with other filmmakers to create something different. His short film, “How Long Until,” is about two men stranded on a deserted island and was filmed at Higbee Beach in Cape May, NJ.

John Avarese and Matt Kaufhold – “The Sound of Waves” – A group of Drexel University Professors, students, and film professionals make up the team behind the short film, “The Sound of Waves.” A life-long musician, John Avarese began studying classical piano at the age of four and his classical training continued for seventeen years and was augmented by four years of music theory at Temple University. He started a music production company and is well-known for his ability to produce complex original scores. In 2006, John won the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Fellowship in Music for Jazz/Blues/World and Non-classical Composition and in 2002 he received a grant from the Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association (PIFVA) for scoring the Buster Keaton silent film, “Cops.” In 2020, John won a National Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing. He is currently an Associate Teaching Professor at Drexel University, teaching Production Sound, Audio Post-Production, and Scoring to Picture. To date, Avarese has composed over 4000 commissioned scores and recorded an elegant collection of film music, as well as mixing and sound design on hundreds of projects. This includes over forty-three theatrical feature films, hundreds of short films, and seven surround sound planetarium features.

Emily Dabney – “Number One” – Local filmmaker Emily Dabney directed the short, “Number One,” about a young woman who agrees to an open relationship with her free-spirited lover, but her goal of getting closer to him doesn’t really go as planned.

Diego Brazzo – “Visions” – Local filmmaker Diego Brazzo directed the experimental short sci-fi film, “Visions,” about a young man who tries to access his future through a virtual reality headset.

J.W. Hill – “Reflections” – J.W. Hill is a Villanova graduate student who completed the short documentary, “Reflections,” in fulfillment of a graduate-level course. The film centers on the long and storied career of Olney-based roofer Mike Donnelly. Parallels are drawn between his experiences and those of his ancestors, who entered the industry on emigrating from Ireland in the nineteenth century. Context is provided by Immaculata University’s Bill Watson, Ph.D., researcher of Irish-American labor history and director of the Duffy’s Cut Project.

Frank Petka – “Nick Lighting” – Director Frank Petka tells the story of Nick Fergus, aka Nick Lightning. The short documentary is a heartwarming tale about a Philadelphia man who was born with a disability that doctors could not define until he was diagnosed with Autism at age 44. Music was always front and center to Nick so he decided to become a rock star and created his alter ego as Nick Lightning at age 15. While never possessing true musical talent and unable to learn such, he performs with passion, energy and enthusiasm.

Carolyn Wilson – “The Good Life” – A first-time award-winning filmmaker, best-selling author, and international motivational speaker, Carolyn Wilson is the Fearless Magnified Educator. “The Good Life” follows her story of being molested which laid the foundation for a

life of further trauma, abuse, depression, and nonexistence. This short documentary is about a pinnacle moment that lead to healing from sexual child abuse, being set free, and the movement created out of the process that helps others heal from their own trauma and abuse.

Kira Bursky–“Seven Dreams” – Kira Bursky directed the music video for the song “Seven Dreams” by Alt/Indie Rock band Braxton Hicks. In the video, an ex-boyfriend experiences seven wild and crazy dreams over and over.

Jake Noecker – “Lockbox” – Jake Noecker is a filmmaker and recent graduate of Temple University. He is a director and producer working for Boxset Productions, Ingem Media, Blinding Edge Pictures, and other Philadelphia/NYC-based production companies. Noecker directed the short film, “Lockbox,” about a desperate man who stumbles upon a life-changing amount of money but must make a risky stop on his way to a new life.

Eric Carosella – “A Tale of Redemption and Regret” – A short comedy set in South Philly, “A Tale of Redemption and Regret,” is about an old mob hit man who still thinks he’s in his prime but learns the hard way that he’s not. Old mobsters never die, they just fall apart in South Philly.

Brooke Steytler – “Finbag” – The animated short, “Finbag,” features themes of ecology and adventure. It’s about a fish who gets into a plastic bag and trouble! The crew was made up of filmmakers from Philadlephia and its surrounding suburbs.

Tickets are on sale now at