Awesome Fest coming to Philadelphia in April

A is for April, A is for ambitious, A is for Awesome Fest.

Throwing a first-anniversary bash for itself - and for genre film/midnight movie/doc-centric Philly audiences - the Awesome Fest is basically taking over the month, mounting screenings in Chinatown and Fishtown, Penn's Landing, Old City, and University City.

"It's a birthday party celebration, and we really want to kick off these festivities with a bang," says Josh Goldbloom, the fest's tireless founder and artistic director. "We've got a ton of events - like 20, 25 events - that we're producing in the month of April."

So here are a few highlights, with Awesome Fest fare and some titles Goldbloom has arranged to show as part of the film section of the Philadelphia Science Festival, also in its second year.

â ¢ Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope (April 12): Intrepid documentarian Morgan Spurlock grew up reading comic books, and the Fanboy never really left him. So when the Super Size Me filmmaker managed to talk the organizers of the giant San Diego Comic-Con into letting him bring his camera and his probing interview techniques to the convention, that's what he did. Attended by more than 140,000 super-obsessed sci-fi/fantasy/genre film geeks, and also descended on by all of the Hollywood studios, which use Comic-Con to launch high-profile sequels and get word-of-mouth and social-media chatter a'chattering, the event is a behemoth free-for-all of fan frenzy, A-list press conferences, marketing, and hype. And now Spurlock's in the middle of it, following five diehard Comic-Conners around and talking to the likes of Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, Matt Groening, Seth Rogen, and Eli Roth, among others. Spurlock promises to attend the screening at the Trocadero.

â ¢ God Bless America (April 26): Bobcat Goldtwait wrote and directed this characteristically dark satire in which a stalker (Joel Murray) goes after really annoying reality TV stars. Then, joined by a teenage girl (Tara Lynne Barr), the two decide to take down anyone they deem to be rude and obnoxious, such as people who talk in movie theaters or don't know how to park their cars. Goldthwait will drop into town for the premiere, and also partake of a birthday bash of his own: a 20th-anniversary screening of the comedian's cult classic directorial debut, Shakes the Clown. "That's going to be a midnight screening," Goldbloom says of Shakes. "We're going to present Bobcat with a lifetime achievement award, and we'll put together a giant clown party for that. â ¦ I guess there's a big clown movement here in Philadelphia." The God Bless America screening, by the way, is free.

â ¢ Juan of the Dead (April 4): Yes, a Cuban zombie movie. "It just won the audience award at the Miami International Film Festival," Goldbloom reports. "It's been getting a great reception, and we're giving it the Northeast premiere."

As for the Philly Science Film Fest lineup (April 21-29), titles include:

â ¢ Man on a Mission (April 21), the opening-night doc about video game inventor Richard Garriot and his quest to journey into space.

â ¢ The Chocolate Farmer (April 24), a year in the life of a cacao farmer in Belize, trying to hang on to old Mayan traditions but facing competition all around.

⠢ Pink Ribbons, Inc. (April 28), a documentary exposé of the commercialization and exploitation of the breast cancer fund-raising and awareness movement.

â ¢ A Fierce Green Fire (April 29), the Science Film Fest's closing-night film, is a far-ranging doc about the environmental movement, its successes, setbacks, and future challenges.

Goldbloom has a lot more going on under the Awesome Fest and Science Film Festival umbrellas, including free screenings, a ghost hunt with the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventurers gang, midnight screenings, DVD-release parties, and surprise guests. And then, come May, it'll be time to launch the Awesome Fest's summer screening series (copresented with Brooklyn's Rooftop Films).

"We want to bring this festival throughout the city on a consistent basis," Goldbloom says. "I mean, while we're calling April our birthday festivities - we're titling it Awesome-mania - with the months ahead, I have a feeling it will look exactly like April. â ¦ We would like to eventually have a show every night here in Philadelphia. That's the goal."

For more information and a complete list of films, venues, dates, and times, go to: www.theawesomefest.com. For Science Film Festival information, you can also log onto: www.philasciencefestival.org.

Contact Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.philly.com/onmovies.