Grab the popcorn and the quarters for the parking meters because the Media Film Festival is back.
The homegrown festival dedicated to local and international short films returns for its 10th outing on April 7 and 8 with a lineup of 36 films that include student-produced narratives, world premiere showings and a block of horror films.
“It just gets to be more and more fun every year,” said the festival’s marketing director Emily Scheivert. “It’s wonderful, so much fun to put together.”
To find selections for the fest, a dozen members of a screening jury watched 100 submissions to weed out the best, the worst and those in the middle. It was mathematical, for the most part, to pick this year’s selections.
“While the scoring, the balloting is important there is sometimes a bit of subjectivity in that middle area …. Sometimes you go back to judgment night (when final selections are chosen) and then pick who they like best,” said Scheivert.
When the official selections were made, it included three films from students in the Media Youth Film Initiative (MyFi), eight picks for the horror fest and an all-time record number of films directed or produced by women: 21.
“The biggest thing to emerge is the strong films this year from women. I think women are turning to short film because Hollywood is a difficult place to get a feature made,” said Scheivert. “Filmmakers see it as an opening in this format. It’s not as costly, and they have more control of artistic quality.
“Women are trying to make their voices heard. They can make these projects and have control and they’re all seen as more viable.”
Among the spotlighted films made by women include “The Audition,” a film by Philadelphia’s own Tatyana Yassukivich that is having its world premiere at the festival. It’s the story of actresses auditioning for the same role. There’s also the short film by MyFi student Julia Smith called “You Look Beautiful” about a young girl coping with abuse issues in her school.
In addition to the world premiere of “The Audition,” a German film called “Maries Leben (The Life of Marie)” will make its first international showing at the fest. This period piece is about a maid trying to recoup her countess’ honor after the departure of her lover.
On the documentary side is a locally-featured look at equine therapy for people with disabilities called “Gift Horses” and “Limbo,” which focuses on West African migrants going through the legal system after traveling to Italy.
Even though she was embarrassed to admit the lack of animation or experimental films this year, Scheivert harped on the importance of short films, whether narrative or documentary.
“(Short films) give you an insight into the really human side of experiences we’ve all had or seen in the news. It puts a different face on it. You can see it from a different perspective,” she said.
Something new for the festival this year is a live script reading of Nora Ephron’s Oscar-nominated screenplay to “When Harry Met Sally...”, which will be performed by Philadelphians and West Chester University alumni Jessica Barth, Micah Hauptman and Mary Beth Rim, who also produces the reading. Barth and Hauptman have developed their own successful careers in Hollywood with featured roles in the “Ted” movies and “Everest”, respectively.
The live script read will be on April 8 at 3:30 and is free.
To relish in the strong presence of women filmmakers in the festival, there will be a forum hosted at 320 Market Cafe on April 8 at 10 a.m. called "Women in Film" and is also free.
Additionally, there will be a classic car show outside the Media Theater on Friday night, and downtown Media will be jumping on Saturday night during restaurant week and Roots Ramble music showcase, making a very “festive atmosphere” that should be “vibrant and fun-filled” during the festival’s 10th year.
From starting at the Delaware County Institute of Science to the Media Theater, Scheivert has seen the festival grown since its inaugural year.
“It’s fun to hangout with people who are also keen on sort film because it’s something that you just can’t turn on cable and see it. This is the type of venue you have to go to see it. There’s something great about coming together in a darkened theater and having an experience in storytelling. We want to be with other people.”
For the full festival schedule and to purchase tickets visit www.mediafilmfestival.org.