Reading FilmFest to present films from here and elsewhere

Oct. 23 – The eighth annual ReadingFilmFEST will showcase over 70 films from around the corner and around the world from Thursday through next Sunday at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Eunice and Albert Boscov Theater and R/C Reading Movies 11 & IMAX Theater.

This year’s festival includes independent and student films, LUNAFEST (a traveling festival featuring films by and about women supported by Reading AAUW), a Rocky Horror Picture Show presentation with a live shadow cast, special programs at Alvernia University CollegeTowne and Penn State Berks and the return of Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony-nominated Lynn Nottage and Emmy-winning Tony Gerber to the RACC’s Miller Center with a screening of the documentary “This Is Reading” and a discussion on the impact of the arts on community development.

The festival is the crowning achievement of ReadingFilm’s season and only part of the organization’s mission, according to ReadingFilm executive director Cammie Harris.

“Since last year’s festival, ReadingFilm has presented over 15 film screenings and educational events in conjunction with several organizations, including Reading School District, NAACP, Jewish Federation of Reading, Reading Parks and Recreation, Berks County Veterans Administration, Berks County Mental Health, Alvernia University, Albright College, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Kutztown University, Penn State Berks, and RACC,” Harris said.

ReadingFilm began six years ago when Santo D. Marabella, screenwriter Letty Hummel, and the late actor Michael Constantine sought to attract film production to the area, provide support to local and guest filmmakers, and strengthen the community of local production through educational, networking and promotional events. .

“A lot of people don’t realize that Berks County has a large film production community, but we do,” said Tracy Schott, ReadingFilm’s board chair and creative director, who has been producing projects in the area for a long time. over 20 years. “We know that Reading’s architecture and the beauty of our wild spaces attract filmmakers who visit us.”

A highlight of the festival will be a screening of “This Is Reading” next Sunday at 3 p.m. at the RACC’s Miller Center for the Arts, followed by a conversation with Nottage and Gerber.

In 2017, Nottage and Gerber created a multimedia art installation titled “This Is Reading” at the formerly abandoned Franklin Street station in Reading. Dance, theatre, music and film filled the station and drew more than 3,400 people over its three weekends. The documentary restores the effervescence of this time.

Five years later, the abandoned train station is home to a thriving microbrewery and restaurant. And, the work Nottage did to create “This Is Reading” spawned his second Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, “Sweat,” which shares the story of Reading’s past.

According to Santo Marabella, former ReadingFilm curator and co-producer of ‘This Is Reading’: “There is a more subtle, albeit more profound impact – the optimism and hope are definitely present. And, I believe that ‘This Is Reading “helped inspire a rebirth of reading – a rebirth, in the truest sense of the word. Because Lynn, through ‘This Is Reading’, embraced our community like an old friend who saw who we are and what than we could be. We are better because of it.”

The festival’s closing party at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts next Sunday at 7 p.m. will feature some of the original dance artists from “This Is Reading,” as well as performances from the WH Dance Academy and Barrio Alegria.

Next Saturday and Sunday, two documentaries and four shorts from Reading-based filmmakers will be screened as part of the ‘Made in Reading’ series.

Among the four shorts airing Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at R/C Reading Movies 11 will be “The Sticklet Weaver,” a film that premiered in January at the prestigious Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and who then went to Canada. and Australia, as well as throughout the United States, including a screening at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The film focuses on Brent Brown, a studio artist at GoggleWorks, who recounts how art helped him cope with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and learning disabilities as a child. Brown is an untrained artist who makes handmade cardboard puppets that are not connected with adhesives but with a washer/sticker system he created and named “Sticklet Weaving”.

This film is part of a series by filmmaker James Hollenbaugh about the inspiration of foreign artists like Brown. Hollenbaugh’s films are shot in a non-traditional documentary style on Super 8mm film, giving them a vintage feel and texture that cannot be achieved with modern video technology.

While “The Sticklet Weaver” has its roots in Berks County, other films in the festival hail from around the world, including shorts from Africa, Ecuador and the Middle East.

“The best way to experience all that FEST has to offer is with a VIP pass,” Harris said. “The VIP pass allows exclusive access to private events where you can mingle with filmmakers and producers, attend exclusive parties, plus access to all included movies for just $100.”

For more information, including full schedule and ticketing options, see readingfilmfest.com.

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