Summer Fun with Southside Film Festival
June 10, 2014 marked the start of the eleventh Southside Film Festival. Film enthusiasts first gathered at Goosey Gander's Gander Room (102 W 4th Street) for food and drink followed by a summer stroll to Broughal Middle School for the event's premier screening.
The five day celebration of international independent films began with darkly hilarious Beware of the Children, a tongue-in-cheek German short film that blends commitment phobia and the growing culture of violence. The sometimes gory, subtly funny satire toys with time old generation gaps, child-discipline, and the perception of kids these days.
The laughs continued with the Irish feature film, The Bachelor Weekend . The feature challenges conventional gender stereotypes with two surprisingly sensitive protagonists who reluctantly set out for a weekend stag party that sends them on a trek through the woods. The metro-sexual quintet's quiet retreat is thrown into much needed chaos with the arrival of the main character's boisterous future brother-in-law, The Machine.
True to the archetypical journey, each traveller finds his way to his best self and stronger friendships. The Bachelor Weekend blends poignant moments, palpable tension, and laugh-out- loud shenanigans that highlight the all too often neglected path of self-discovery. The Machine’s closing monologue- a politically inspired love note to Ireland- reminds the audience of the complex interdependence between a communal source of pride, in this case country, and a healthy self-perception. The connection between community and personal development resonates with Bethlehem residents- “Northsiders” and “Southsiders,” alike.
Programs like the Southside Film Festival are vital to Bethlehem’s pride and unity. Thanks to the Fowler family and other gracious benefactors, socially conscious and high minded organizations, like the Southside Film Institute, give our community a voice while reminding its residents to celebrate dynamic cultures of the world. International, independent film moves viewers past damaging, albeit well intentioned, melting-pot ideals towards a celebration of humanity. The power of story is not to be underestimated.
Interested readers can find the Southside Film Festival screening schedule at southsidefilmfestival.com. I plan to attend several film blocks throughout the week, so you can check back here at Fig Bethlehem for more reviews and kudos. Hope to see you at the movies!