Cyndy Drue

Cyndy Drue

Cyndy Drue

Stand Up and Shout: Songs from a Philly High School cast, director and Executive Producers on stage at the 32nd Philadelphia Film Festival 2023

7 highlights of the 32nd Philadelphia Film Festival according to me, Cyndy Drue, MGK’s Event Reporter. The festival took place October 19-29, 2023. I had a chance to check out the films on behalf of the MGK audience.

A Note Before Philadelphia Film Festival Highlights:

Before we get to the highlights, I wanted to mention something that made this 32nd film festival different from all the others before it. Usually at these film festivals, there are quite a few well-known actors who appear on the red carpet before the film or on the stage afterwards to field questions from the audience. That didn’t happen this year. There were no big-name actors at this festival. There were some directors, and executive producers, but no actors.

I’m figuring it’s because of the SAG-AFTRA strike. As part of the strike, actors are not to make any promotional appearances about their work until the strike is settled.

SAG AFTRA stands for Screen Actors Guild / American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The actors believe they aren’t being paid what they deserve. Essentially, that big movie studios and online companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime are not giving the actors a fair share of the profits. They are seeking a new contract.

There’s also the issue of AI, Artificial Intelligence, which is not currently regulated in any way. There is the threat that AI can copy an actor’s voice, look, actions, etc so that there is no need for the human being, so, jobs will be lost. I’m a member of this union as an actor and broadcaster. I’ve participated in a few protests.

SAG AFTRA strike Actors in Philadelphia

demonstration to support the SAG AFTRA strike, Cyndy Drue on the right

Bradley Cooper would have been a natural to show up at this festival. Philadelphia is his home town (well, he’s from Rydal), and he starred in a film called Maestro, about the first great American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. Bradley most likely didn’t make an appearance because of the strike.

Due to my schedule, I wasn’t able to see Maestro.  Bradley directed the film as well as starred in it. He also produced it along with Martin Scorcese and Stephen Spielberg. This will be up for awards, no doubt.

Now, for the 7 highlights of the 32nd Philadelphia Film Festival:

  • John Legend was there in person

    John Legend on the red carpet at PFF32

    John Legend greets fans and press at the 32nd Philadelphia Film Festival 2023

    The EGOT himself, John Legend, a graduate of U of Penn, came to the Film Festival to appear on stage after the screening of Stand Up and Shout: Songs from a Philly High School. His Get Lifted film company produced it. After the Q+A on stage at the Philadelphia Film Center, he went to a nearby club called Vinyl and played a couple of songs impromptu.

  • Andrew Lipke Was There In Person

    The Philadelphia based musician, Andrew Lipke was a member of Get the Led Out for 12 years. These days he composes music, conducts orchestras, and works with Philly’s Amos Lee among others. He stars in the film Stand Up and Shout: Songs from a Philly High School. He composed the music for the lyrics the students wrote. You can see this film on HBO beginning November 7, 2023 at 9:00pm.

    Andrew Lipke and Cyndy Drue

    Andrew Lipke + Cyndy Drue at #PFF32

  • Seeing Philadelphia On The Screen

    philadelphia scene

    A scene in Philadelphia

    The Filmadelphia category means the film is shot here or the director is from here. Chestnut was a feature film that was shot in Center City, named for Chestnut Street. We saw a lot of bars but none were identified. I thought I recognized Dirty Franks. The writer/director Jac Cron based the story on her own experience after graduating Drexel U. This shows up in Youtube now. Some other titles in the Filmadelphia category that won awards included: I Think I’m Sick, Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia, and the short, Floating Mom.

  • Films That Transport You To Another Place

    Berlin Movie Theaters Reopen During Coronavirus Pandemic

    It’s not easy to watch all 100+ films in ten days. I saw 14! The PFF says, “See something you’ll never forget” These are all independent films that you may get to see in a theater or online streaming soon. Some films never get seen after the festival. I hope these will be shown somewhere. Be on the lookout.

    Upon Entry – based on true story of two immigrants with a visa coming into the US and what happens at the airport
    A Still Small Voice – Documentary about resident chaplains in a hospital comforting terminally ill patients. This is coming to theaters in November 2023.
    I Used to Be Funny – comedian/actress Rachel Sennott in a scripted story. Written + directed by Ally Pankiw, these two talents are a force to be reckoned with
    Food and Country – Documentary by a food critic about how the pandemic affected farmers, restaurant workers and the food system in America
    Fantastic Machine – cinematic essay that tracks the evolution of the recorded image from the beginning of photography to the obsessed era we live in now with images online

  • The Opening Night Film: 'American Fiction'

    American Fiction coming to theaters in December 2023

    American Fiction official movie poster

    The Opening Night film is always something big and special. It’s also always shown at the biggest and best theater – the Philadelphia Film Center. The trailer for American Fiction is here. Writer/Director Cord Jefferson used to be a journalist. He said onstage beforehand, “Making this movie was the honor of my life.” It’s funny, timely, has a great cast and story. PS Wait until you see Sterling K Brown’s abs and buff bod!

  • Good Weather For Walking To Theaters

    Philadelphia skyline on a clear sunny day

    Two of the three theaters were within five blocks of each other, so, easy to walk. PFS East on 2nd near Chestnut, and PFS Bourse at 4th and Ranstead near Chestnut. The third and largest at 1412 Chestnut, the Philadelphia Film Center is still within a 20-minute walk from the others. The weather was warm, sunny and beautiful. Perfect for walking through town.

  • Talking To Other Moviegoers

    Group of people eating popcorn in the cinema

    The festival always provides thought provoking films that generate conversation afterwards. Having seen the film(s), the audience has this in common and it’s good to share our thoughts with each other. I’ve always met interesting people!

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