Local cinephiles will be in their glory this weekend as not one, not two, but three film festivals will be playing in State College.
The Irish Film and Cultural Festival, which will be going on from 12:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the State Theatre, will encompass a lot more than just film. Read the story I wrote for today's Weekender: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/25/2605194/festival-puts-irish-film-culture.html.
The Penn State Irish Society, under the direction of Jessica O'Hara, who teaches Irish literature in Penn State's English department, is organizing the festival. The theme of the festival is "Music and Myth." Kildare's Irish Pub, which opened in State College in August, is sponsoring the event. In addition to four films that portray Irish culture and/or mythology, the festival will feature musical performers, dramatic readings, children's activities, poetry readings, and Irish artwork for sale. Kildare's will be providing Irish pub fare, and the State Theatre is importing specialty Irish brews for the occasion. Proceeds from the festival will be used to support to support the study of Irish culture, literature and music at Penn State.
O'Hara and Frank Daly, marketing manager for Kildare's, told me that they hope that this year's festival will lay the groundwork for a more expansive Irish festival down the line. O'Hara also said that she originally conceived of the festival as a counterpoint to State Patty's Day, that unsanctioned "holiday" of drunken debauchery that Penn State students have been carrying on for the past five years. I totally support their efforts. As O'Hara said in the article, Ireland has a rich artistic and literary heritage, and it's a shame that for so many Americans, St. Patrick's Day is all about drinking. And as Daly said, a lot of events in the State College area tend to target a specific demographic, such as undergrads or the over-40 crowd, but the Irish Film and Cultural Festival is designed to bring people of all ages in the community together.
Those who have an interest in anthropology and world cultures should definitely check out the second annual Anthropology Festival, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the HUB Auditorium on the Penn State campus, followed by a public reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Nittany Lion Inn. The festival will present three ethnographic films and discussion with well-known anthropologists. The films highlight the interface of traditional cultures with modern western consumer society. The headlining film, "Devil's Playground," focuses on Amish teenagers at a critical stage in their lives, when they have to choose between adopting the Amish tradition by joining the church or abandoning their traditional ways to adopt a modern American lifestyle.
Finally, Lunafest, a festival of short films "by, for and about women," will be making its second appearance at the State Theatre at 2 p.m. Sunday. I wrote this story forWeekender: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/25/2605201/films-for-women-by-women-lunafest.html.
The festival was created in 2000 by Luna, a company that makes nutrition bars for women, and is being presented locally by the Centre County Women's Resource Center. Lunafest’s films have won industry awards and audience accolades. Ranging from animation to documentary, the 10 selected films are diverse in both style and subject matter. Profits from the film festival will be divided equally between the Centre County Women's Resource Center and the State Theatre, and the resource center will donate a portion of the proceeds to Luna's selected charity, the Breast Cancer Fund.
Being both a visual and narrative medium, film has the potential to not only entertain audiences, but also enlighten and educate. All three of the film festivals that will be screening this weekend have the power to get audiences to see events, cultures and individuals from another point of view. And by attending these festivals, you will also be supporting local organizations and helping Penn State further its educational mission. I
'll be at the Irish festival tomorrow night, enjoying an Irish brew, taking in the entertainment and watching the closing film, "The Commitments," which I've never seen before. It can't get better than that on a chilly March night in State College.