The Sundance Institute, the organization that presents each year's Sundance Film Festival, hosts year-round events nationwide on different aspects of film, as part of a program in partnership with the Knight Foundation. They're holding such an event in Philadelphia this weekend on Music in Film, along with the screening of a Sundance film from a West Philadelphia-raised filmmaker.
Tayarisha Poe, a Philadelphia native and Swarthmore College graduate, went through the Sundance Screenwriters Intensive in 2013. She debuted her first feature film, Selah and the Spades, at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The film thus far has 100% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
On 7:30 Friday night, a free screening of Selah and the Spades will take place, also at the Painted Bride. Poe will be on hand for the screening, as well as a Q&A afterwards.
In addition, Poe will participate in a panel as part of the Saturday event, along with the film's composer Aska Matsumiya and editor Kate Abernathy.
Not your ordinary school rivalry
Selah and the Spades, Poe told Broad Street Review in an interview this week, tells the story of rival factions of teenagers at a boarding school outside of Philadelphia, although the movie was filmed in Massachusetts.
"It's like a crime family drama but set in a boarding school," Poe said. While she has always enjoyed The Godfather and other films in the genre, "I just never really saw myself, I never really saw young black women or girls in those movies or in those stories, who are able to do the morally questionable thing, and then come out alive on the other side of it."
While the film is not quite autobiographical, the boarding school alumna added that she was interested in telling a story about the experience of non-white characters at boarding school.
"I like creating characters that we can empathize with, even if we wouldn't do the things that we would do," Poe said of her film.