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From Lisa – SouthSide Film Festival

June 21, 2013

Last week was one of my favorites weeks of the year – SouthSide Film Festival week!  I leave work every day as close to 5pm as possible and rush off to see a film, then quick eat some snacks for dinner as I walk to the next venue to enjoy another one, and then if I can handle more hours of film watching, off to yet another one!  On Saturday I spend the whole day (or as much of it as I can) watching even more films before heading off to the closing night party.

Ten years of movies on the Southside.

This year marked the 10th festival, and I’ve been lucky to attend all but one.  I love walking around town and running into other festival passholders, some filmmakers, some community members, all ready to take in the great films SSFF has brought in for us to enjoy.  After the opening night film this year and for days later, I was reflecting on why the festival is such an amazing event.  Which made me think about why art matters – what’s the value of it?  A question we at Touchstone often need to make a case for when applying for funding.  A question I was recently pondering with a young actor from the Lehigh Valley Charter Arts High School who wondered her value as an actor.

While I’d love to have the perfect answer to this question of value, it’s hard to put art up against, say, food or shelter, especially when considering funding, but we can’t ignore the power of the arts.  If food and shelter are our basic needs, then art makes us human – it connects and uplifts, it unifies and inspires and has the power to transform us as individuals and a community.

So how has the film festival transformed? Well, there are many ways and different for each person, I’m sure.  For me, it’s a greater appreciation for and understanding of well-executed filmmaking and certainly a deeper perspective on the world after seeing films and meeting filmmakers from many countries over the years.  For the community, it brought us together to watch films, yes, but perhaps more importantly, it connected us afterwards about what we liked and didn’t, how someone interpreted a particular moment, why such and such film was better than another, “oh, and you gotta see this film” or “did you watch that one”, etc.

Lisa and Jp at SSFF, 2009

There’s something I call “invisible glue,” that indescribable something that happens when things come together and you’re transported.  It can happen at a restaurant or a party – you’re enjoying the company you’re with, and then all of the sudden, you’ve lose track of time and it’s hours later.  I also feel it when working on theatre here at Touchstone – all of the sudden, the show you’re working on actually works.  The performance qualities, design elements, the playwriting all become one and it’s finally a show.  There’s no one thing that made it work but rather the combination of it all.  At the film festival, there are definitely moments like that, particularly in the shorts.  One film plays and you are not that into it, just not your cup of tea, but the next one plays and it blows you away, you think about for days after; it’s powerful, it works – it has the “invisible glue”.

For me, one week out of the year the SouthSide Film Festival is the “invisible glue” of South Bethlehem.  It’s what brings many of us together and keeps us talking and thinking about it for weeks and even months to come.  So a big shout out and congrats to the SSFF for introducing us to great films and bringing us together for the last ten years; here’s to ten more!

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