Inaugural Centre Film Festival set Nov. 8-10

September 17, 2019

The inaugural Centre Film Festival, a curated festival with partners from all over Centre County, including Penn State, will be conducted Nov. 8-10 at the historic Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg.

The three-day event features 16 award-winning films, question-and-answer sessions with visiting filmmakers and special guests, live music, and a first-ever high school competition and related workshops designed to help students hone their multimedia storytelling skills and gain hands-on experience with filmmaking, music and photography.

Organizers envision the three-day event as a celebration of community and the value of film and multimedia storytelling.

“We are really excited about this event. It’s a festive weekend where community can connect with each other and take in some cinematic gems in a cinematic gem, the Rowland Theatre. This is our first year, and we hope it will have a little something for everyone,” said Pearl Gluck, an award-winning filmmaker and assistant professor of film in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. “With the Rowland Theatre as a powerful century-old touchstone, we are bringing filmmakers and films to the community that spark conversation.”

Along with Gluck, organizers include: Curt Chandler, a multimedia journalist with 25 years of experience and an assistant teaching professor in the Bellisario College; Renae Nichols, an assistant teaching professor in advertising/public relations in the Bellisario College; and Renee McQuowan, a curriculum consultant at Central Intermediate Unit 10 who has been working on the high school sessions with Gluck. There is also a dedicated team of Penn State students interns, mostly film-video majors,  working to make the festival a reality.

Opening night of the festival includes two features related to the origins of filmmaking and historic theaters: "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of Movie Palaces," which celebrates the grandeur of great cinemas in the United States, and "Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy Blache," a feature that premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival about the world’s first female filmmaker.

The second day of the festival includes free master classes for high school students focused on music, photography and storytelling. Partnerships with the bluegrass group The Hillbilly Gypsies, who will lead the music session for students, photographer Matt Lambros, who will teach high school students how to photograph the Rowland Theatre, and Organic Climbing USA will broaden the festival to include a concert as well as a hike and tour.

An initial workshop for high school students, focusing on how filmmakers find and construct stories, was conducted in early September. Participants from that session were invited to participate in a competition that will lead to a screening of high school shorts on Sunday, the third day of the festival.

Former hobo and Philipsburg native Luther Gette was at the session sharing his story and allowing for students to practice their interviewing skills. Gette will return to the festival after the screening of the Peabody Award-winning documentary, "Riding the Rails," to discuss his experience jumping the freight trains directly behind the Rowland Theatre.

Along with the student film workshop, competition and screenings, there are numerous films with local ties. Film topics range from roots music to the life of a Vietnam vet who is overcoming the impact of war to enrich his own life and the lives of people around him. All of the featured films are in some ways connected to the lives of people from central Pennsylvania.

Visiting filmmakers and guests include film directors April Wright, Vicki Vlasic, Michael Uys, and Jonathan Berman. Vietnam veteran Ron Hall who appears in Debra Granick’s "Stray Dog," will be in attendance as well.

“From my perspective, the festival has already begun because there has already been so much support and creative energy in the organizing and creation of the event,” said Gluck. “It is all volunteer run, including Philipsburg residents, some of my colleagues, and students. The festival is about encouraging and creating community around the arts and that is already in full swing. I’m looking forward to continuing to build this experience together.”

The festival is hosted by The Centre Film Workshop, a grass-roots organization founded in Centre County to bring local stories to film and to create a platform for multimedia storytelling, dialogue and screenings.

Tickets for the festival cost:

  • -- $50 for an all-access VIP weekend pass, which includes access to all sessions and a copy of the book “The Rowland Story”;
  • -- $25 for a day pass;
  • -- $15 for the opening-night double feature;
  • -- $15 for the Saturday night film and concert; or
  • -- $8 for individual films.

Veteran and senior ticket discounts are available.

A complete schedule and more information about the festival may be found online. (

The festival is made possible in part with support from the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Pennsylvania Partnership for the Arts, and the Bellisario College. Community partners include the Rowland Theatre, Central Intermediate Unit 10, and the Philipsburg Revitalization Corp., as well as Brown Dog Catering, Poppy's, and Race Street Brewers.

  • Centre Film Festival, Hillbillies

    The Hillbilly Gypsies will lead a music session for students and be featured in concert.

    IMAGE: Photo Provided
  • Centre Film Festival, filmmaker

    A film about the world's first female filmmaker, Alice Guy Blache (left), will be featured on opening night.

    IMAGE: Photo Provided
  • Centre Film Festival, Ron Hall

    The film "Stray Dog," presented in honor of veterans focuses on Vietnam veteran Ron Hall.

    IMAGE: Photo Provided
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Last Updated September 18, 2019