So much can happen in ten years. While one can turn philosophical about the passing of a decade, in the life of an arts organization, sustaining a mission for ten years is more than significant. For some, it can be somewhat of a miracle. Take the Southside Film Institute as an example. For the last ten years, with no paid staff, we have enjoyed watching independent films from local, national and international filmmakers.
Our imagination and awareness of the world has been widened through thousands of films. The stories have delighted, inspired, motivated, entertained and even shocked us. Our community has been strengthened by watching these films together.
I’ll never forget the opening night of 2010, when a packed Lewis Auditorium screened Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. It was one of the best “town-gown” stories I’ve ever heard; completely turning a horror film formula on its head. It was also some of the hardest laughs I’ve had in a while. Laughter shared is always that much better. Don’t take my word for it, read this post from a life-long Bethlehem resident, and former Lehigh student Andrew Daniels. He was there, too.
Arts@Lehigh has been supporting the work of the SouthSide Film Institute because of their dedication to supporting independent filmmakers. One of the reasons why we now have access to more films beyond the blockbusters at other venues is because of this organization. Sure, we could watch movies at home on various downloads or DVDs… but this organization showed us the value of watching films together; talking directly with the filmmaker, and having post film discussions with friends and strangers.
In all art forms, there is a cycle of life. Artists toil with the production of a new work. Whether it’s a novel, a symphony, a joke, or a film, the act of creation is not fully realized until it is presented to an audience. Simply making art doesn’t create an audience. An audience must be nurtured and grown over time. This organization is a major reason why there is an audience that supports independent film making.
The Southside Film Institute is a small band of intensely dedicated citizens. Some of them also run businesses, or work for local companies or universities or local nonprofits, or even attend school themselves. For ten years, they have given their time, talent, heart, energy and their own creative assets to allow us to see independent films together.
If you’ve not yet been to the Film Festival, there are a few others who offer great words of advise for your first outing. Here’s a great one from Laura K on YELP, and also another former Lehigh student post, Lindsey.
I echo their advise – stop by Deja Brew soon to pick up a copy of the festival schedule. Or scan the festival schedule online. Special note to families with little ones – the Children’s series returns this year. Each film has been screened for parental and child approval!
I hope to see old friends at the opening night next Tuesday. More than that, I hope to see new folks giving the festival a try for the first time. If you’ve been to the festival before, make sure you support the organization in whatever way you can. And tell your friends about it. Films are always better when shared.