College Town Film Festival features work of alumnus, more

More than a dozen films -- including the work of a recent Penn State alumnus making an impact in Hollywood -- will be screened as part of the College Town Film Festival, which makes a four-day visit to Penn State in mid-March.

The first-of-its-kind festival, which strives to increase communication and collaboration between the academic, creative and business sectors of independent film, will visit the State Theatre in State College and Carnegie Cinema on the University Park campus March 14-17.

Sponsored in part by the Department of Film-Video Media Studies, the College of Communications, the School of Theatre at Penn State and the College of the Liberal Arts, the festival is designed around student involvement and strives to foster relationships between independent films and a variety of audiences.

Organizers hope the first-time visit becomes an annual event.

“This is a totally new festival idea,” said Matt Jordan, an associate professor serving as coordinator of the festival. “Not only will we show top-notch independent films, but the interaction with the filmmakers during the Q-and-A sessions and in the seminars is geared toward teaching students about the challenges, rewards and realities of making independent film.”

Along with screenings of feature-length and short films, the program includes conversations with filmmakers, panel discussions and seminars encouraging interaction between the general public, students, actors, directors and producers. Students will participate in the discussions and seminars, and several select students will serve on the jury for festival awards, working alongside VIP jurists who will be coming to town for the event.

In addition to the screenings at the theatre downtown, the festival will include a special American Film Institute session on Saturday, March 16, in 112 Kern Building. Along with a presentation from AFI Conservatory faculty member Joseph Garrity about the conservatory for students interested in becoming AFI fellows, the event will feature several of the best recent films by AFI fellows -- including the work of Penn State alumnus Brandon Hess, who earned his film-video degree in 2010. He wrote and directed “First in Flight” about the Wright brothers.

As part of the project, Hess collaborated with Academy Award-winning composer James Horner (“Titanic”), sound designer Lon Bender (“Hunger Games”) and a group of aerospace engineers to build a replica of the Wright Flyer, the first successfully powered aircraft. “First in Flight” made its debut Nov. 15, 2012, at the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) and Hess subsequently signed with United Talent Agency, whose clients include stars such as Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow. Hess has been meeting with production companies about producing a feature-length version of the film, which he created for his American Film Institute thesis.

Passes for the four-day festival cost $60, and tickets for individual screening sessions may be purchased for $7. PSU student tickets cost $2 with a valid ID. Tickets are available at the State Theatre box office.

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Last Updated April 29, 2013