Last night, the inaugural Allentown FilmFest concluded at Civic Theater 514 on 19th St. A component of Allentown JazzFest, the film festival featured three nights of films – the 1966 Antonioni film, Blowup (Apr. 29), International Short Films (May 1), and last night’s showcase, the aptly titled A Night with the Experimental.
The concept for a film component to JazzFest began when Bryan Tuk, Executive Director of Performing Arts Live! Inc., approached local filmmaker Stephanie Gardner with a project.
“First, Bryan asked me to make a web teaser for JazzFest, and it branched out from there,” Gardner said. “He said he wanted to add film as an element and asked if I wanted to show something. I started giving him some ideas for programming he could show here, and he asked me to curate it.”
Gardner was intrigued by the idea, seeing an immediate connection between music and film that could be delivered to local audiences.
“I see music in general, and jazz especially, interrelated to film,” Gardner said. “I think cinema and music are a universal language, both a contrast between silences and sounds. I think film is an actual companion to JazzFest, and it’s something different that you’re not used to seeing.
Last night’s “experimental” films included several of Gardner’s, including a humorous take on William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 151, in which a man is portrayed pining over a meal from the original Nathan’s Hot Dog stand in Coney Island, NY; as well as “Allentown Grooves,” a music video showcasing the people and places of Allentown with live musical support from The Bryan Tuk Complex.
Each evening’s screening was capped by a discussion led by Gardner meant to engage the audience on a deeper, multi-cultural level.
“I like to start dialogues about how cinema is an art form of shared expressions,” Gardner said. “We can all relate to each other through it.”
Gardner hopes FilmFest leads to an ongoing discussion; one in which more local filmmakers have a voice and a platform for their work.
“I want to encourage more artists in the area to come out and say, “I have work that I can show,” Gardner said. “I know that there are arts happening here, but they’re not easy to find. I think a lot of people want to engage more in visual arts and music. I know there are filmmakers out there, but I don’t know what they’re doing or where to see them.”
Enjoy selections from Tuesday night’s “A Night of the Experimental” screening below.
Stephanie Gardner – Sonnet 151 (from The Sonnet Project)
Ishaan Kumar – Triumph of the Spill
Dave Meyers – Particles: Part II