The History and Evolution of Film In Philadelphia


The city of Philadelphia is known for being the home of the Liberty Bell, the Deceleration of Independence, but also its cheesesteaks. A part of the magnificent city that most people don’t tend to speak about is the historic film cultural in it. The mission for “Philm Film” is to shine a light on the prospering talent Philadelphia is producing, and their influence individually on today’s culture. To establish the influence, I will identify the birth of the film industry in Philadelphia, transitioning into analyzing the Philadelphia Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film Society, the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival, and then the Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association.

Philadelphia’s connection with the making of movies dates to when film was beginning in the industry. Per Jake Blumgart, a writer for the Philadelphia Encyclopedia (, identifies that the city’s Lubin Manufacturing Company created and distributed many of the first generation of silent films. From the late 1800’s to the early 1920’s films were broadcasted without synchronized recording sound and no spoken dialogue, leading to the title silent films. Following the unsuccessful trial from the company, Philadelphia never obtained an outstanding aspect of the nation’s filmmaking. After Lubin’s abrupt reign at being at top of the movie industry, Philadelphia shifted from being a major part in movies to prominent part in manufacturing groundwork for businesses. As Philadelphia was involving in a construction city, movies became a backburn for directors such as M. Night Shyamalan and David Russell.

The Philadelphia Film Festival is a film festival founded by the Philadelphia Film Society and each year the festival is held in the city. The festival is held throughout various theater venues in the area, and it promotes films that are generally independent and are not typically seen unless in the Philadelphia area. Per ( The annual festival was founded in 1991, and it lasts for eleven days which is one of the longer running film festivals in the city. The festival highlights areas such as short films, spotlights, documentary showcase, American independents, and masters of cinema. Festivals such as this allow large gatherings to view different categories of films and help loop perception of a city life, and the city in general.

Another production endorsed by the Philadelphia Film Society is the PFS Roxy Theater, which brings top independent cinema to Rittenhouse Square. Beginning in 1975, the historic Roxy Theater has operated as a two-screen movie theater featuring highly anticipated new release films, repertory movies, and educational programs based on film and filmmaking for students of all ages.

In 2012 the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival became Philadelphia’s only festival featuring remarkable and original work of developing and establishing Latin American and Latino filmmakers ( The Festival yearly produces screenings that consist of underground works from all genres. The programs are able to fascinate a divergent audience creating a new field in Philadelphia where actors, filmmakers, and producers can engage with the audience, actors, and be able to discuss inventive work.

The Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association (PIFVA) is a program developed by independent filmmakers to provide services to media makers, throughout all genres, styles, and skill levels. ( Locating at the International House for 19 years, PIFVA molded into an imperative and compelling gateway for local media makers, and an independent community with diverse based productions. Their events are generally presented through PIFVA but they are also in partnership with other organizations such as, the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, PhillyCam, which is a community access media, and Reelblack, which is Philadelphia’s number one promoter for black films. These organizations provide the necessary education and information for both the beginning and experienced artists in the media.

-Justin Hunt


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