The return of the Women’s Film Festival, ‘Nanay,’ WEIRDO, and more

The Weekly Roundup, September 15-21

5 minute read
In black and white, three women, one girl, and a man, presumably Asian American, look down at the camera wearing sunglasses.
'I Will Make You Mine' is one of the highlights of this year's Women's Film Festival. (Image courtesy of I Will Make You Mine, LLC.)

The final official week of summer is upon us, and what a hearty week (and beyond) we have in the city. This week features the Women’s Film Festival screening around Philly, a Fringe show highlighting Filipino migration histories, and another pair of festivals popping up in the North side. You might also want to check out some fascinating storytelling when Ilya Kaminsky joins Blue Stoop in conversation.

Women’s Film Festival
September 16-26
Times and locations vary

Did you know the origin story behind the Women’s Film Festival can be traced all the way back to West Philly? That’s right, founders Phuong Nguyen and Layne Marie Williams serendipitously met in 2014 at a restaurant, chatting about film and movies. Fast-forward to October of that year, and the festival was born. The growth of the festival is evident, with a deep, diverse roster of films from local and international filmmakers alike. This year’s edition features an abundance of shorts from a wide variety of perspectives (plenty of documentary shorts, too, if that’s your fancy), workshops, and more. I’ve handpicked a few features and documentaries to check out, but be sure to check out the schedule for yourself—there’s so much to choose from.

Tickets range from $8-$20. Some events are free. All-access badges are $100 for students and children, $125 for adults. Be sure to check ahead for accessibility and Covid protocols for each venue.

I Am That
Thursday, September 16, 7pm
Suzanne Roberts Theater, 480 South Broad Street

The opening night film comes from director Joy Marzec and tells the story of a cloistered nun who is questioning her life’s future after she gets word of her sister’s death. Joined by two outsiders on her journey to her sister’s burial site, I Am That is a “modern pop style” film about finding connection and certainty in one’s life. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Marzec and lead actress Amielynn Abellera and lead actor Matteo Scammell.

Thursday, September 23, 6pm
Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street

This feature documentary follows Ashley, Aya, and Ouma, three people who hail from South Africa, Niger, and Ivory Coast respectively, and share a childhood dream of becoming pilots.

Queering the Script
Friday, September 24, 8pm
Christ Church Neighborhood House

Director Gabrielle Zilkha’s documentary examines the power audiences have in shaping LGBTQ+ representation in television while also putting a lens close to the relationship between fandom and activism. It’s wild that we’re at a point where fandom and activism have similar issues, and I’m extra curious to see how Zilkha navigates that conversation.

I Will Make You Mine
Saturday, September 25, 8pm
Christ Church Neighborhood House

Lynn Chen is one of those artists you’ve likely seen everywhere but might not have realized it. From TV to film, audiobooks, and video games, Chen has done it all. This time, she’s making her directorial debut with this metanarrative about three women who, while juggling their work and personal lives, wrangle with a romantic history with singer-songwriter Goh Nakamura—who plays himself. Chen also wrote and stars in the film, which serves as a semisequel to Surrogate Valentine and Daylight Savings, two SXSW films from the past decade. I Will Make You Mine first debuted at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival.

If you can’t make it out to see the screening, the film is streaming on a variety of platforms, including Vudu, Amazon Prime, Paramount+, Tubi, and more.

We Were Íslands
Saturday, September 25, 10pm
Christ Church Neighborhood House

Reeta is a stand-up comedian facing the big 3-0. By then, she’s supposed to have fallen in love, gotten married, and settled down, right? Her own growing doubts and pressure from her conservative Indian family aren’t helping her figure out what she wants for herself in life. The whimsical dramedy comes from Indian-born filmmaker Amrita Pradhan and is her first feature film.

More happening around Philly

September 17-19, 6:30pm
Bartram’s Garden Community Boat House, 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard

Nanay is Tagalog for mother, and this site-specific interactive dance performance is meant to honor Nanays and Lolas (grandmothers) as integral to Filipino migration histories. The performance is open to everyone of all ages and backgrounds, and folks are invited to participate in a journal writing activity facilitated by performers to inscribe memories shared with our matriarchs. The Fringe Festival entry is directed by Ani Gavino, with Isabella Mojares, Sevon Desemone Wright, and Malaya Ulan collaborating. Tickets are $20.

Art for the Cash Poor
Saturday, September 18, 12-6pm
Running on North American Street from Master Street to Berks Street

InLiquid is hosting its local art festival with over 80 artists who will sell their works, from printmaking to ceramics, paintings, jewelry, sculpture, and photography. The festival serves as a celebration of the revitalization of North American Street.

Ilya Kaminsky and Sara Novic with Blue Stoop
Saturday, September 18, 5-6pm
Gross McLeaf Gallery, 127 South 16th Street
Virtual stream on Zoom

Ilya Kaminsky’s poetry book Deaf Republic tells the story of Petya, a deaf boy who is killed by soldiers in an occupied country during a protest. The gunshot is the last thing the citizens hear. Everyone has gone deaf, and their dissent becomes coordinated by sign language. Kaminsky will be in conversation with Sara Novic for the in-person (and simulcast) to talk about the book. ASL interpretation will be available both in-person and virtually.

WEIRDO: The East Kensington Arts and Oddities Festival
Saturday, September 18, 2-9pm
2600 Coral Street

Swing by East Kensington for an “outsider art” festival this weekend. Featuring art, “oddness,” music, food, performances, and many weird things throughout the day. It’s outdoors, and dozens of artists, creators, vendors, and performers will be in attendance. The event is free, open to the public, and is family-friendly.

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