Scranton-area filmmakers Stephen Karam and Chris Bongirne headline NEPA Film Festival on March 27-28
From a press release:
The Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival has announced that Stephen Karam and Chris Bongirne, nationally renowned filmmakers who both grew up in the Scranton area and whose 2020 film projects have direct ties to Scranton, will headline this year’s festival, slated for Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29 in a variety of venues throughout downtown Scranton and the Waverly Community House, which is presenting the annual event.
Dedicated to nurturing emerging and independent filmmakers from Northeastern Pennsylvania and around the world, the three-day festival correspondingly promotes cultural awareness and appreciation of film as an art form by exposing local audiences to unique and original cinema.
Now in its fourth year, the NEPA Film Festival’s growing reputation is built on a commitment to offer the region access to new and independently produced films by a wide range of emerging and established filmmakers. It will screen three days’ worth of films, including features, horror and animated shorts, documentaries, and international films along with the opening night gala, artist tributes, presentations and panel discussions, and the ever-popular Mystery Box Challenge.
An OBIE Award winner and a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, Stephen Karam is directing and adapting his Tony-winning play “The Humans” for the big screen, making his film debut as a director; he previously wrote the screenplays for the film versions of his play “Speech & Debate” and Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” which starred Annette Bening. Set to be released in 2020, the film version of his comedy drama about a family from Scranton stars Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein, Richard Jenkins, Steven Yeun, and Jane Houdyshell.
A graduate of Scranton High School and Brown University, Karam is the son of Albert and Marie Karam and grew up in Green Ridge. His honors include the inaugural Horton Foote Playwriting Award, the inaugural Sam Norkin Drama Desk Award, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award, Drama League Award, and Hull-Warriner Award. In addition to receiving the NEPA Film Festival’s F. Lammot Belin Award for Excellence in Cinema this year, he will share insight on his play being made into a film on Saturday, March 28 at 4 p.m. at Madame Jenny’s (126 Franklin Ave., Scranton). Seating is limited for this intimate event. Tickets for general seating are $50 in advance, and VIP tickets with reserved seating and a 3 p.m. meet and greet reception are $65 in advance.
Archbald native and Bishop O’Hara graduate Chris Bongirne is the executive producer of “The Virtuoso” starring Anthony Hopkins, Anson Mount, and Abbie Cornish. The film about a hitman was partially shot in downtown Scranton and includes scenes in the former Dime Bank building on Spruce Street and the former Hotel Jermyn. The film’s climactic scene features a collision between a car and a recreational vehicle that was filmed on the 200 block of Wyoming Avenue in March of 2019.
In addition to “The Virtuoso,” which is set to be released in 2020, Bongirne executive produced “The Binge” with Vince Vaughn as Hulu’s first theatrical feature and “Bashira,” a scary thriller based in the Japanese manga style.
In the indie world, he produced the well-received “Blackout” with Michael B. Jordan, Jeffrey Wright, and Zoe Saldana; “Multiple Sarcasms” with Mira Sorvino and Timothy Hutton; “The Tenants,” based on the Bernard Malamud novel, with Dylan McDermott and Snoop Dogg; as well as the ensemble drama “Ordinary Sinner” starring Elizabeth Banks. His major studio work includes supervising Madonna’s directing debut “W.E.” and “I Am Legend” with Warner Bros. while co-producing the surfing movie “In God’s Hands” with Sony Pictures.
Bongirne was also executive producer of the critically acclaimed film “Marshall” about the early life of Thurgood Marshall, with Chadwick Boseman playing the title role alongside Josh Gad and Sterling K. Brown. An encore screening of “Marshall” will be offered as part of the festival’s kickoff gala slated for Friday, March 27 at 7 p.m. at the Waverly Community House (1115 N. Abington Rd., Waverly).
Joining Bongirne on stage to discuss “Filmmaking in the Electric City” will be Nick Stagliano, director/producer of “The Virtuoso,” who also serves as an executive producer on the action thriller “Doorman” starring Ruby Rose and Jean Reno, which starts principal photography in May. The cinematic duo will introduce the film “Marshall” and host an audience Q&A afterward. Tickets for the gala event are $65 in advance or $70 at the door and can be purchased online at nepafilmfestival.com or by calling 570-586-8191.
A limited number of all-access film festival passes are currently available for $120 in advance and includes admission to the opening night gala, the Stephen Karam event, as well as all films and other events. For more information or to purchase all-access passes, individual tickets, or day passes, visit nepafilmfestival.com.
Established in 2016 by the Waverly Community House, the Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival is supported by the F. Lammot Belin Arts Foundation and its mission to “build community through the arts.” The fourth annual festival, a project of Scranton Tomorrow, is sponsored by the Lackawanna County Council of the Arts, WVIA Public Media, and People’s Security Bank and Trust.