Philly Film Festival Thrives Despite Competition from Phillies

By most measures, the 19th Annual Philadelphia Film Festival, which wrapped up last Sunday night, was a success with many screenings sold out. Attendance was in the "low 30,000s," according to executive director Andrew Greenblatt. When the event was held in spring,  prior fests posted 60,000. But this one had fewer movies and venues and could have made that number only had every seat been filled at every screening.

And since this one was in Fall, there was some competition from the Fightin' Phils, :On Phillies off nights, screenings sold out," Greenberg says. "On on nights, not so much."

Black Swan, Blue Valentine and Philadelphia-centered titles drew capacity crowds, as did many of the French films shown. Other foreign films, such as Uncle Boonmee, White Material and Certified Copy were crowdpleasers.

The audience award went to Louder than a Bomb, about youth poetry slams in Chicago. The Filmadelphia award for best local feature was bestowed on Lebanon, PA, about the unlikely friendship between a Philly ad exec and his young cousin in smalltown Lebanon. The Archie Award for first-time filmmaker went to Hesher, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an aggressive metalhead. Best documentary went to Life 2.0, about the digital networking site Second Life.

On the anecdotal basis of the e-mails and phone calls I've received, movie geeks were very pleased with the festival. HughE Dillon, man about town, called it "epic." Jamie Kennedy, who accompanied the film Cafe, had this to say: When I went to this year's festival, I was impressed with how many Hollywood people came in. When I was leaving CBS News from doing my interview with Ukee Washington I saw Ed Zwick walking in. And at the screening of my movie, I saw M. Night Shyamalan at the screening of his movie. It's nice to see Philly get the recognition it deserves. There are a lot of creative people here. Plus I was impressed that my movie was 90% sold out at 5pm on a Thursday afternoon. Good job Greenblatt!"

Your thoughts? Best and worst films? Are there ways organizers could improve the Festival?