From a Philly basement to bicoastal screenings

Celebrating indie films for 25 years with the FirstGlance Film Festival

2 minute read
Film still. Two actors look at each other, straight faced, illustrations in the room.
'That Night' is one of the feature films of this year's festival. (Image courtesy of FirstGlance Film Festival.)

This year’s FirstGlance Film Festival, an annual fest focusing on independent film, is set for its 25th year, heading to the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville from October 14 to 16. FirstGlance was founded in 1996 by Bill Ostroff, who remains the festival director. FirstGlance was meant to feature unheralded independent films. FirstGlance luckily took place in-person in both 2020 and 2021 while many other film festivals did not. However, it was scaled back with stringent Covid-19 protocols in place.

25 years of indies

FirstGlance is a bi-coastal festival, holding festivals each year in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The first Philadelphia festival was held in the basement of the Bourse building, and over the years, FirstGlance has been held by everyone from the Pen & Pencil Club to the Painted Bride to the Franklin Institute to the Kimmel Cultural Campus to, for the last few years, the Colonial.

Of the approximately 50 films this year, there are about 10 that are feature-length, while the rest of the program consists of short films, web series, and even some music videos. There are about 10 more films this year than are typically on the schedule, festival spokesperson Andrea DiFabio said.

The festival is split into several screenings at different times of day on the three days. This year, they're split by genre, with a "Shot in Philly" section and other ones for films directed by women, "a sing and dance block," and a horror section, where attendees are encouraged to show up in costume.

Some highlights of the features and documentaries include No Perfect Walk, featuring the story of two directors (including a Temple University alum) who walk the length of South America, and documentary The Condemned Free from local filmmaker Bethel Bates which takes a look at mass incarceration. Other films with Philadelphia ties include Viren Shinde’s The Everyday Show, Christopher Romano’s 11:07, Derek Frey’s Awkward Endeavors, Saritha Petthongpoon’s The Stand, and Nicholas Peetros’s Dear Mirror.

“I can’t believe that what started as a one-time indie film screening event in a Philadelphia basement has continued to bring filmmakers and film lovers together for 25 years. We’re so proud of the programs, networking events, and panels that we have produced over the years and we couldn’t be more pleased with our home at the Colonial Theatre,” Ostroff said in a press release. "We look forward to our biggest and best event ever.”

What, When, Where

FirstGlance Film Festival. $15-$150. October 14-16, 2022, at the Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville.


For accessibility information, visit the Colonial Theatre's accessibility page or call (610) 917-1228.

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