Another Fall in Philadelphia, which means another much anticipated Philadelphia Film Festival! Every year the Philadelphia Film Society curates a selection of thought provoking films from all over the world. For its 30th year, this festival’s selection is an unforgettable one. We implore you to check out each of the films featured in the festival spanning over 10 days. National and international filmmakers have a chance to showcase their work, and for local filmmakers, this festival means something a little more. It’s a chance to represent what Philly filmmakers have to offer the world.
Philadelphia has a vibrant film community full of incredibly talented individuals dedicated to their craft. Expressway Cinema Rentals is fortunate to find ourselves so deeply connected to the community, as we watch each client’s work come to life. We feel especially lucky to support and have the chance to shout out two short films that are featured in the Filmadelphia Shorts Program, featured at two showings at PFF30: “Kim” and “See Us in the Wildfire”.
Director: Maria Vattimo
When Maria Vattimo first reunited with her old dance teacher she found herself captivated by her life’s work. She instantly saw it as a story she wanted, and needed, to share. Vattimo met with Kim, who she refers to as “Miss Kim”, over a cup of coffee after she recorded a performance at Kim’s dance company.
“She opened up and told me about a frightening abusive relationship that she had escaped and how it had impacted her life and work,” said Vattimo. Kim, a contemporary ballerina, uses her company as a platform to raise awareness for women’s issues. She has created a safe space for dancers from all walks of life.
From there, Vattimo jumped straight into directing and producing an 8 minute documentary about Kim and her work.
“After hearing her story, I knew this was something that needed to be shared and my producer/director brain went to work,” said Vattimo. “We were in production in less than 6 weeks.”
Utilizing grip and electric equipment from Expressway, Vattimo credits ballet itself as an inspiration for the lighting in the film.
“The visuals for the film were very much inspired by the grace and softness that is portrayed in Kim’s contemporary ballet performances. Soft natural light and pastel color palettes complimented the dance world very well.”
Vattimo, who got her start in the camera department, is a long time client of Expressway. Who often comes in with projects of all sizes. She says that Expressway was a huge resource in accomplishing her film with a low budget of $8,000.
“Expressway is such a generous supporter of local filmmakers and was willing to rent us G&E equipment for a discounted rate. If it wasn’t for people like the folks at Expressway, this film and quite a few other projects I’ve worked on since would not have been possible.”
Although Vattimo has attended the festival for years, this will be her debut as a director in the festival.
“I attend the Philadelphia Film Festival every year as a fan, so being able to attend this year as a filmmaker is such an honor,” said Vattimo. “I am thrilled that we will be able to watch our film on the big screen in the city where it was shot alongside my incredible crew, fellow filmmakers, friends, and family.”
See Us in the Wildfire
Director: Jason Chen
Inspired by a recent onslaught of anti-asian hate and violence, “See Us in the Wildfire” directed by Jason Chen, seeks to unpack asian identity through a visual exploration of art and fashion in America. It didn’t take long for the film’s creators to connect early on in their production over their shared experiences.
“We all realized that we’ve been subjected to some sort of cultural isolation and loss of identity while trying to assimilate into the mainstream American culture” says Eurica Yu, the film’s Director of Photography. Yu described how elements played a key role in the film’s structure and the film broke down into three phases.
“Fire represents the struggle and isolation we experienced while navigating through mainstream culture,” says Yu. “Water symbolizes our breakthrough, accepting our identity and air finally embracing our differences and identities.”
Production design played a critical role in setting up the film’s narrative. In order to showcase these elements, the crew utilize multicolor fabrics of various textures. Lighting too, played an important role in setting the scene.
“Phase 1 was about struggle and loss of identity so we felt having a moodier and darker feel for the film was more appropriate,” said Yu. “I wanted it to feel like an old timer Southeast/East Asian film so I went with a warmer lighting.
To Yu, the camera movement needed to mirror the feelings conveyed in the film. “I think even in the midst of the feeling of isolation and loneliness, we wanted the camera movement to be slow and smooth just because it was never really meant to feel chaotic.”
Yu initially didn’t think the team would submit to festivals, instead opting for featuring the visuals in magazines and publications. With the short film accepted to PFF30, Yu notes that it means something extra special to her and her team. “It feels incredible!” says Yu. “It is an honour to be playing in our hometown.”
Filmadelphia Shorts Program Lineup
City Creatures – Michael A. Johnston
Sisters of Soil – Raishad M. Hardnett, Aidan M. Un
The Field Trip – Mike Attie, Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, Meghan O’Hara
No Dye – Yoni Azulay
The Contract Musical – Chris Cole
Light Years Apart – Mariia Osanova
Snowy – Kaitlyn Schwalje, Alex Wolf Lewis
See Us in the Wildfire – Jason Chen
Kim – Maria Vattimo