Centre Film Festival returns -- virtually

October 27, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — It’s movie time. From Nov. 13-15 the Centre Film Festival will present a weekend of entertainment and insight with a curated selection of films designed to offer an escape from post-election frenzy and pandemic worries.

For the safety of all, this year the festival will be conducted virtually. Blocks of films and panel discussions may be accessed via streaming video for a single film fee, or through individual program tickets. Proceeds from the admission fees will benefit local non-profits, including the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg, the State Theatre in State College, and 3 Dots Downtown.

“We loved our inaugural year here in Centre County and at the Rowland Theatre, and we will miss seeing our community face to face this year,” said Pearl Gluck, artistic director of the Centre Film Festival and an associate professor of film production in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State. “But, until we get back into the theater, and because of being able to conduct the festival virtually, we are able to bring filmmakers from all over the world and our country to people in their homes. We are really looking forward to the online conversations we will be able to have with our community as we watch films and discuss them.”

A complete schedule, ticket information and more for the Centre Film Festival may be found online

Each film block during the three-day festival features short films, the main feature and a live panel discussion (via Zoom) introducing the audience to filmmakers from around the world and right next door. Patrons may view the film in real time, followed by the discussion. Or they may watch the film at a time of their choosing anytime during the festival, followed by joining the scheduled discussion.

The festival opens Nov. 13 with the coming-of-age movie “Definition Please” made by Sujata Day, from Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Other opening day highlights include the thriller “#Like, which echoes terrifying true stories that are all over the internet of teens who are exploited or bullied and and what happens to the families left behind. Opening night also includes a midnight screening of the unnerving horror film “The Witch,” co-hosted with A24 and the Bellisario College of Communication Student Film Organization.

The Nov. 14 lineup starts out with a choice of either short children's films curated by the New York Children’s International Film Festival, or a showcase of films made by students from central Pennsylvania. Then it's time for sports, with a pair of documentaries: “Attla,” focusing on a Native Alaskan legendary dogsled racing champion, and “Running Home,” about the generosity of a Puerto Rican runner during Hurricane Maria.

A brunch break features “Jazz on a Summer’s Day.” Later that afternoon, the festival will travel back to 1968 and revisit the week that late-night television "got woke" when legendary entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte hosted the iconic “Tonight Show” in place of Johnny Carson, in “The Sit In”. The next two blocks focus on the real-life tragedy of a missing college student, “Finding Yinging,” and a story of the search for love and identity in “The Garden Left Behind.”

The night of Nov. 14 promises thrills and spills with “Stuntwomen: The Untold Story” and the suspense of a boy’s post-apocalyptic journey in “A Feral World.” Later, “Late Night with the Centre Film Festival” will take a look at the career of an internationally renowned Polish filmmaker who began making erotic films, in “Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk.”

On Nov. 15, the final day of the festival, fans will get a second chance to view the short films for children in the morning, or they can view a selection of short films made by award-winning filmmakers focusing on the pandemic.

Filmmakers with Pennsylvania roots are featured throughout the festival. “Definition Please” on opening night explores the life of a child with roots in India who is growing up in Westmoreland County. The Saturday afternoon lineup includes “Franklin Manor,” the story of a mobile-home community in Centre County scattered by development. On Sunday, “Small Time” explores the world of a girl growing up in a rural world of poverty, addiction and God.

“I’m really excited to be able to showcase films and filmmakers from across the state,” said festival co-founder Curt Chandler, associate teaching professor of journalism in the Bellisario College. “One of our goals is to encourage the growth of a strong local film community. Our film lineup is proof that this community is producing exceptional work.”

The festival concludes with two films about people tackling seemingly insurmountable challenges in different backdrops. In “About a Teacher,” a highly educated filmmaker takes on a classroom of under-motivated inner city teens only to be the one to learn the greatest lesson. That urban drama will then be transported to the rural environment of “Small Time.”

“We are especially grateful for all the filmmakers who agreed to ‘attend’ our festival via live free conversations,” said Gluck. Filmmakers include a Guggenheim fellow (Yoruba Richen, “The Sit In”), Sundance Lab participants, SXSW winners and actors such as Sujata Day (from Issa Rae’s “Insecure”) as well as first-time directors, students and local artists.

“These are trying times for so many of us, and I am sure we will appreciate the in-depth conversations they will have with us about their work and approach to challenging predicaments through their art and storytelling,” Gluck said.

For more information on film times, links and pricing, please visit the festival website at https://centrefilm.org/.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 29, 2020