by Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport
Hey old sport, are you looking for a fun film adventure to embark on this month? If so, your favorite film pals from Moviejawn have just the plan for you.
The second annual Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival runs from April 12th to 15th and will showcase over ninety films from seventeen different countries. Festivities kick off the evening of April 12 with a red-carpet screening of Blaze, a film written and directed by Ethan Hawke that premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Inspired by life of Blaze Foley, the film tells the story of the unsung songwriting legend from Texas, who inspired the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. The film stars first time actor Ben Dickey who took home the Sundance Special Jury Award for Achievement in Acting. Ben will be in attendance to present the film at the fest and play a live music set with his band after the film screens.
The fest’s founders, Todd Morris and Jocelyn O’Neil have found Jim Thorpe, PA to be the perfect destination to host their film fest. “Everything is self-contained, close together, and walkable,” says Todd. With the picturesque eastern Pennsylvania mountain backdrop, quaint shops and the historic Mauch Chunk Opera House to screen the films, it is hard not to see this as the perfect event for cinephiles.
With international flicks such as Toronto Film Fest entrant, Let the Corpses Tan - a French action/thriller paying homage to spaghetti westerns of the 70s or Top Knot Detective - which follows a failed over the top Japanese samurai series, it is pretty easy to see this is not your typical film fest line-up. "There is a darker tone of the festival overall," explains Todd. "We don't mind pushing buttons."
While curating the 750 submissions they received, diversity was top of mind. There was a focus to give under-represented filmmakers such as women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and student filmmakers an opportunity to have a venue to screen their work. To assist with these efforts, students, women, and LGBTQ had an opportunity to apply through film freeway and have their fees waived. This initiative helped the fest to receive submissions from all over the world. “We want to push the envelope,” says Jocelyn. “There are some crowd pleasers, but we are trying to create a conversation and separate us from other local film festivals. We are not trying to be safe.”
The festival is also pleased to have a new section featured this year highlighting local filmmakers. On Saturday, April 14 students from the Lehigh Valley will have an opportunity to screen their films. Making a reappearance from last year will be the Grindhouse program which will screen flicks at midnight on Friday and Saturday. For those interested in Philly films, you don't want to miss your opportunity to see The Dark Military by Philly director Loren W. Lepre. Loren is just one of several Philly filmmakers that will be screening flicks at this eclectic fest.
Advance tickets are strongly encouraged for the events as it is expected many will travel in for the festival weekend. "Filmmakers who were here last year, want to come back this year. They enjoyed their time," expresses Todd. "People are coming from all over for the love of the festival."
You can find more information, buy tickets, and plan your festival trip by visiting the Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival website.