NEPA Scene Staff

Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival returns to Ritz Theater in Scranton on April 17-18

Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival returns to Ritz Theater in Scranton on April 17-18
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

From a press release:

The 2020 Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival was canceled due to COVID-19 and rescheduled for October, but conditions did not improve enough to safely hold the fourth annual event last year.

Now that movie theaters have reopened and the state is easing safety restrictions, organizers are moving forward with a slightly smaller festival, staying in one venue, The Ritz Theater in downtown Scranton, and going from three days down to two – Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18.

Dedicated to nurturing emerging and independent filmmakers from Northeastern Pennsylvania and around the world, the festival correspondingly promotes cultural awareness and appreciation of film as an art form by exposing local audiences to unique and original cinema. Its 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.

The lineup, listed below, includes a full-length comedy and drama, seven short American films, three international shorts, three documentaries, and three short local films as well as 12 short films made for the Mystery Box Film Challenge, a popular audience favorite.

Filmmakers who signed up for the challenge received a cardboard box filled with objects that had to be incorporated into a short film. Each Mystery Box contained an assortment of plot devices, ranging from character names, a line of dialogue, a prop, a type of location, a plot element, or a wardrobe item. They then had roughly two months to write a script, cast, shoot, and edit their films based on those items.

The finished films will premiere at the festival, followed by a short Q&A and small awards presentation to recognize the best shorts. The Mystery Box Challenge is run by event organizer Desiree Zielinski in partnership with Luz Cabrales of Scranton Films.

“The creativity of past filmmakers who have participated in the Mystery Box Film Challenge is inspiring and amazing,” Zielinski said last October when registration began.

“To be able to see your film on the big screen in a packed theater is a huge thrill for filmmakers and audiences alike.”

All-day festival passes for Saturday and Sunday, which are $15 each, are on sale now at The screenings will be held in compliance with current Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines.

The NEPA Film Festival is a project of Waverly Community House, a 501(c)3 charitable organization committed to offering educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities to individuals and families in the region, and the F. Lammot Belin Arts Foundation, an entity administered by The Comm committed to “building community through the arts.”

The foundation has supported the arts and artists in Northeastern Pennsylvania since its inception in 1964. Now marking its centennial anniversary, the Waverly Community House has supported community arts programming for 100 years.

2021 Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival schedule
(download the brochure here)

Saturday, April 17

Noon-1:15 p.m.: Comedy feature – “Ape Canyon” by Joshua Land and Victor Fink (1:13:14)

Cal Piker and his sister Samantha head out on a Bigfoot-hunting adventure and encounter many obstacles.

1:45 p.m.-2:40 p.m.: Shorts

“The Gear” by Omid Seifi (02:00)

The theme of this animation is about creativity and innovation to drive an industry.

“The Boy Hero” by Kyle Thompson (20:19)

This film raises awareness of childhood cancer through an unlikely friendship that forms over an art project.

“Ontario” by Eliza Good (10:02)

Parents announce their impending divorce on route to a family beach vacation.

“Zoe in Review” by Stacey Larkins (14:55)

An emotionally fractured woman examines her past in search of answers for her present entanglement.

“…So It Goes” by Jim Hall (02:05)

A dictator with an orange for a face becomes the new symbol of fascism as the color orange morphs into the ultimate hue of hate and destruction.

“Chasing Sparks” by Lucas Moreira (05:33)

A boy chases inspiration until he finds the need to have something more: an original idea.

“Doesn’t Fall Far” by Joshua Michael Payne (15:00) – mature

One Friday night. Two exposed secrets. Three lives forever changed.

3 p.m.-4:45 p.m.: Drama feature – “Playing with Beethoven” by Jenn Page (1:43:17)

The day before a life-changing competition, a young concert pianist is lured away from the security of his practice space under the spell of a free-spirited young woman and learns that life, like his music, is all about taking risks.

6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Mystery Box Film Challenge

Seating opens at 5:30 p.m.; event includes introduction, Q&A, and awards

“Bailey’s Invitation” by Vinnie Langdon III (07:11)

“Ghost Jumper” by Trisha Thompson (03:30)

“The Pitch” by Somber Lotus Films (07:31)

“The Last Escape” by Route 22 Filmworks (09:34)

“The Good Times” by T.W.F.C. (09:11)

“Dog Fight” by James Felcon (04:50)

“Ambivalence” by IHMA (09:38)

“Johann: A Retrospective by Todd Klepp” by Federated Monkey Studio (09:57)

“Tenth Dimension” by Desiree Films (08:25)

“Movie Marathon” by WEV3 Pictures (04:45)

“In the Night” by C Stands for Cinema (10:00)

“The Will” by Anthony Cutro (05:54)

Sunday, April 18

Noon-12:30 p.m.: International shorts

“The Quiet” by Radheya Jegatheva (10:00)

When an astronaut ponders on the quietude of space, he comes upon a startling self-realization.

“Coffin Decolette” by Nancy Kamal (05:57)

This film highlights the suffering of an impoverished middle-class Egyptian child bride.

“Irony” by Radheya Jegatheva (07:53)

A film that explores the relationship between man and technology… told from the perspective of a phone.

12:45 p.m.-3:15 p.m.: Documentaries

“Made in America” by Kevin Bryce (57:00)

“Made in America” explores and compares the effect of trauma on the veteran community and the urban black community.

“Mark Jury… Beyond Demons” by John Mikulak (12:00)

This documentary follows the journey of Mark Jury, acclaimed Vietnam veteran, photojournalist, and filmmaker as he battles PTSD, enters treatment, and discovers a way to move on from his past.

“The Documentary of Hanson’s Park” by Thomas Novotney Jr. (1:05:00)

This documentary features the entertainment, food, rides, boating, and camping that was once Hanson’s Amusement Park, located in Harvey’s Lake, Pennsylvania.

3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: Local NEPA films

“Charlie Chaplin’s Body” by Jeff Boam (22:00)

This R-rated comedy laughably based on real events finds two unemployed mechanics trying to blackmail Charlie Chaplin’s family for the return of his stolen remains.

“The Back Breakers” by Alexander Monelli (06:00)

A portrait of a small independent wrestling promotion in Archbald, Pennsylvania and the unique people involved.

“Sing to Me” by Luz Cabrales (21:00)

A short film about the beautiful and intimate experience of two friends that use the power of love and friendship to help cope with loss and grief.

Learn more about local filmmaking and the making of the short horror film “The Road Less Traveled” that debuted at the 2019 Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival with Lindsay Barrasse, David Corigliano, and Mystery Box Film Challenge organizer Desiree Zielinski in Episode 98 of the NEPA Scene Podcast:

Photo by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene