Thaw Festival kicks off Wednesday in State College with film exposition

Pure Cane Sugar will perform as part of the Thaw Festival.
Pure Cane Sugar will perform as part of the Thaw Festival. Photo provided

Organizers plan to bring together the worlds of film, music and live performance throughout the community with next week’s Thaw Festival.

Starting Wednesday Thaw will kick off with the College Town Film Festival screenings. Other events include live performances from comedians, theater groups, local musicians, the Thaw 5K, TEDxPSU and the State Day of Service volunteerism event.

“The thing that Thaw has been trying to do is bring together a combination of old events that had happened here before as well as newer programming under the same umbrella,” said Matthew Jordan, an associate professor in Penn State’s department of film/video and media studies. “One of the things they brought together into this ...is the College Town Film Festival. The other thing was TedX, and we have some other kinds of programming filling it out.”

“The College Town Film Festival is a juried film festival of independent films,” including shorts, documentaries and features, Jordan said. “We actually have 26 filmmakers flying into town next week, and then we set up moderators with a Q and A afterwards, usually with faculty that specialize in the subjects the films engage. We invite the students and community to come talk about the things the films talk about.”

While the film festival may seem a big enough draw on its own, Thaw Festival 2015 really gets in gear on Saturday

“We’ll have things going Wednesday, Thursday (and) Friday for the festival, but then Saturday starts the morning with a 5k run,” Jordan said.“The run ends up at the HUB, wherewe’ll have different sustainability groups with booths with information. We’ll also have a series of environmental films. The shirts for the 5k run are being donated by a former Penn State student who went out and started his own company called Impact Eco Wear. They make shirts out of post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. He’s coming in to do a lecture on that about entrepreneurialism.”

The festival’s mission statement is to “satisfy the community’s desire for more community events year round for the State College and Penn State community while boasting local talents and providing a fun and unique experience,” according to the official website.

“Basically this has become an organically grown local event in many ways,” Jordan said.

Several organizations have contributed to Thaw. University-affiliated groups and public institutions have lent their support to launching this festival.

“There have been a lot of people involved in it,” Jordan said. “The office of Student Affairs has taken an active role, the State College borough has taken an active role, the Centre County visitor’s bureau has taken an active role. There have been literally several dozens who have had a hand in the organization of this.”

The various groups responsible for Thaw have relied on each other for support and assistance. Ultimately, the organizations have come together in an effort to make something larger than any one group could do alone.

“The people who helped bring the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts were involved in this, as well as a group called Sounds,” Jordan said. “We have all these kinds of groups who came together to get this thing started. It’s a really example of a town/gown happy marriage in a sense. It’s been kind of late coming together because it was very organic, but I think it’s very interesting.”

All events are open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

“Everything is free,” said Jordan. “You can’t beat that. All events at the entire Thaw festival are 100% free to the public.”