A few weeks ago, the Philadelphia Film Society held its 25th annual film festival. As I have done for at least ten of the past fifteen years, I took a week off for it.
Though there is something to be said for the kind of vacation where you travel somewhere, I like this stay-cation where I try to fill as many films into the week as possible. I remember the first day I had off (okay, the second day – I needed one day to be lazy) I selected films based on where they were filmed. This gives me that “take me away” feeling that needs to accompany any extended time off. I tried to keep that theme going into the week, but I changed it as the schedule permitted.
My selection of films seems to change every year. Years ago, I selected mostly horror films. I remember that it was a Thai film (immediately after a string of horror films from all over the world) that did me in, and I needed a break from horror films after that film which opened my eyes to other genres. Some of the selection criteria is location and climate based; I find I have a great fondness for Scandinavian countries, as well as any that are around the Arctic circle. There were some years where my attention was all over any Asian countries from the far east, particularly fishing cultures. France and Italy will get my attention at any time in their history. England and Germany I tend to like in an older era. America I barely tolerate. 😉 I’m kidding, but I tend to like to “get away”, so you can understand I’m looking elsewhere.
Each year the schedule features 5 time slots each day with which you may select your films. There are times where you will have conflicts because one film will not end before your next film starts. This year, there was one instance where I needed to hop a cab and go across town to the next theater in a hurry. I aim for 3 or 4 films a day, and if there are no films in that time slot that I like I need to think about the reason why. Is there something I need to challenge? Perhaps a taboo that’s keeping me away? Every film-fest I try to answer a few of these challenges. It doesn’t always work such that I move my predefined preferences in film, but sometimes I do and regardless of the result I’m always glad I tried.
This year, partially because of the movement of immigrants across the world (and here), I was interested in a documentary about the work of medical professionals that assisted people in Philadelphia that don’t yet have their citizenship yet. Their work was volunteer, and the director and medical personnel featured in the film were on hand at the theater to answer questions afterwards. Quite the response to the interest of a film-goer, and mine was already a pre-meditated interest (as opposed to the challenge I mentioned above).
This subject is only one of what consumes the minds of people in the world today, and the Philly film-fest selects films to cover them every year. If there are conflicts in the world, you can expect some film creator to screen a love story or something that takes place in that area, perhaps featuring families at odds over the conflict themselves.
After the film-fest was over, I felt that I had more time off than I really did. I was exhausted each night, and I felt truly refreshed for work when I got back.
My pick from the film-fest for all the writers that are reading this: See ‘A Quiet Passion’, starring Cynthia Nixon about the life of Emily Dickinson. And feel free to visit the links below to see what other movies you might want to keep an eye out for.