Actress-filmmaker Jessica Graham grew up watching movies at the Media Theatre, “As a kid, we especially loved going when we knew nobody else would be there. We had the theater to ourselves and I’d run around like a wild banshee.” Graham was a 5th grader at The School in Rose Valley when the acting bug first bit, “My teacher cast me in the Greek tragedy Antigone, and I was hooked.” She took classes at the Hedgerow Theater and eventually, the desire to pursue acting took her to Hollywood where she now lives and works.
On April 8th Graham will be back at the Media Theatre, this time in a seat alongside family and friends to see her own film, “Chasseur”, an award-winning short which she produced. Set on the back roads of the Louisiana Bayou, it is the story of the half-mad Louis Chasseur, who hunts the devil. “Chasseur” is among the 41 films selected for the 10th Annual Media Film Festival April 7-8.
Graham is in good company, according to Festival Program Director Tamme McClelland, “21 of the films we’ll be screening, more than half, have a woman director, producer or writer. Independent women filmmakers really seem to be stepping forward this year.” The Audition, the story of three actresses who compete for the same coveted role, was written and directed by Philadelphia’s Tatyana Yassukovich and will have its World Premiere in Media at the Saturday 7pm showing; Bombing, is Gloria Mercer’s tale of a struggling standup comic who faces the choices she has made as an artist and mother. There will be a free workshop “Women Making Films” on the 8th at 10am at Media’s 320 Market Café. It is open to the public.
In memory of the late director-writer Nora Ephron there will be a Live Read of her beloved, Oscar nominated screenplay When Harry Met Sally at 3:30pm at the Media Theatre on the 8th.
The performance stars two professional actors and Philadelphia natives, Jessica Barth, star of the TED movie franchise, playing Sally. Micah Hauptman plays Harry and will also direct. Hauptman has a recurring role on Homeland and appeared in the films Iron Man and Everest. The Live Read is free.
The Media Film Festival was created, not only give local artists an opportunity to share their craft, but to promote the distinguished talent of filmmakers worldwide. “We have an incredible array of films for this season” says McClelland, who is also a member of the jury of volunteers which screens, scores and selects the lineup. “We have films from as far away as Germany, Ireland and South Africa alongside quality entries produced right here in Delaware County. And with different genres represented – dramas, comedies and documentaries, there really is something for everyone.” The Media Film Festival encourages audiences to interact with the filmmakers in attendance, either during Q & A sessions or by engaging with filmmakers informally between screenings.
Local teen filmmakers will debut their work at the opening of both evening film programs. “MyFi”, short for the Media Youth Film Initiative, is a project of the Media Arts Council and the Media Youth Center. Area high school students receive hands-on experience producing, writing, directing and acting in their own films under the guidance or a professional instructor.
There are 4 unique blocks of films: Friday and Saturday evenings at 7pm. For those who like the thrill of the horror genre there is the Friday Late Night Horror Fest starting at 10:30pm. Saturday afternoon there will be a matinee starting at 1pm. Tickets are $12 per day and can be purchased online or at the door. All-Festival passes, good for all screenings, sell for $20. To watch the official Festival trailer or purchase advance tickets visit www.mediafilmfestival.org
Popular Media celebrities, Fox 29’s Sue Serio and her husband, actor Bill Vargus will serve as celebrity hosts Friday evening and on Saturday night, Jessica Barth will assume hosting duties. Produced by the Media Arts Council (MAC), sponsors of the Media Film Festival include the Borough of Media, Michael R. Rhile Construction, Naturescapes, Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union, and the Aruffo-Rim Agency. All screenings take place in the Media Theatre Building, 104 E. State Street in downtown Media.