Philly Film Fest Split Provokes The Age-Old Question: Why Can’t This Town Produce A Long-Standing, Decent Festival?

festWe’ve been cramming to understand this post on The Clog since late yesterday; as you know, we are muy muy fluent in A.D. Amorosi-ese, but when there’s a story with this many moving parts, Angelo gets even more confusing than when he’s trying to punch his way out of the paper bag that is a concert preview. So we’ve A/B’d all the info in his piece with a contact close to the situation, and here is what we know:

  • Some kind of months-long bitchfit went down between the Philadelphia Film Society and its sponsor corp in the Philadelphia International Film Festival, TLA Video.
  • And apparently, shit got so bad that the TLA side basically decided to pick up its toys money and go home start a new film festival for Philly called the Philadelphia CineFest.
  • BUT — and this is where it all gets really stupid — the CineFest board is made up almost entirely of the same people who’ve been producing ye olde Philly Film Fest for years and years. The official line that TLA video is giving is that “recent disagreements between PFS board leadership and TLA over the management and artistic vision of the festivals has necessitated a breakup of the business relationship”; but the more we dig, the more it seems like the whole disagreement comes down to a difference between two or three people. Is this enough to shelve a brand that a lot of people have worked on for years and is a recognizable attraction to the city? Do we all really need to start from scratch? And not for nothing, isn’t the moniker “CineFest” a super-shabby one when the phrase “PHILADELPHIA FUCKING FILM FESTIVAL” is clearly within reach?
  • Especially when the Philadelphia Film Society seems like it’s on the border of collapse and will be hard pressed to get it together in time for this year’s fest when TLA has taken all the movies slated for this year and pushed them over to this CineFest thing.
  • Phew. Got all that? Good. Now, let’s put it all in context: For some reason, this city just cannot seem to consistently produce, year in and year out, a festival of import. The Live Arts & Fringe Festival went through a major identity crisis this year. Locally-produced music festivals seem to come and go annually. BlogPhiladelphia is missing in action. And on and on. When it all came down, the Philadelphia Film Festival was the most consistent, reliable, branded festival this city had. Sure, it had problems — the world “festival” is actually Spanglish for “problems,” I think — but it showed up on time, year in, year out. When you do that, you don’t just represent your own festival; you represent its city of origin. And now, Ray Murray, you’re going to trash it all over a pissing match with we-know-not-who? Can’t you just buy the naming rights and be done with it?

    • TJS

      Quote: “BUT — and this is where it all gets really stupid — the CineFest board is made up almost entirely of the same people who’ve been producing ye olde Philly Film Fest”

      Speaking as a former PFS board member, I can assure you that TLA’s new festivals will NOT have the same board as PFS. Many members of the staff will be returning, but not so much with the board. The staff – the people who actually put these events on – has been working tirelessly during all of this dickswinging. Just a minor, yet important correction.

    • DougSakmann

      You say this city cant produce a good festival…you forgot the Backseat Film Festival, which is now in it’s 7th year and has no drama whatsoever, just a lot of great movies and tons of free booze! The 2009 festival site is coming soon and the festival is the first 2 weekends of March…check it out at!

      Also, check out Philly’s latest and greatest indie movie theater, music and performance art space, the 941 Theater, where most of the festival events will be held at!

    • tips

      Aw c’mon Sakmann.

    • DougSakmann


    • tips

      Smokey, this is not ‘Nam. There are rules:

    • Patricio

      Over the line?

    • jc

      is it called Backseat cuz we never heard of it?

    • theblacklodge

      Tips, you’re being a baby. Doug was just commenting on a story about film festivals in this city not being able to get their shit together. He is just letting your readers know there is another film festival in the city that people should know about. He didn’t crow-bar his ‘thing’ into an unrelated story. God forbid people who are into film festivals should be told about a sweet film festival. Especially one with free booze! I’ve read your rules and Doug wasn’t over the line. Mark it an eight, Dude.

    • tips


    • Shepard Wong

      “Site Temporarily Unavailable”

      Nice effort to get your festival some pub but it may work better if the sites were actually up and running.