49 Films Featured In 17th Annual West Chester Film Festival, April 28-30
by Main Line Tonight editors
The West Chester Film Festival is back and bigger than ever. This year’s selection includes 49 short films that cover a wide range of topics – and geographies. “The 2023 WCFF is overflowing with international appeal, and we are so pleased to present these stories from all over the globe to the Philadelphia region,” said Carol Quigley, president of WCFF. “A block of short films at the WCFF is like a 2-hour journey around the world, without the cost of a plane ticket.”
Want to see some of the short films nominated for 2023 Oscars? Here’s your chance. Many of the West Chester Film Festival’s offerings were Oscar nominees or short listed for their categories. They include “Night Ride,” “Warsha,” “The Treatment,” “Black Slide,” “Ivalu,” “Tula,” “Sideral,” “The Lone Wolf,” “Nuisance Bear,” “Sierra,” “Ice Merchants,” “Feeling Through,” “Holding Moses,” and “The Present.”
The festival committee screened more than 170 films from 24 countries before selecting their top 49 picks. “This year, there is a sense of the importance of community, which I think reflects the impact of the past few years,” said Victoria Rose, sponsorship coordinator for West Chester Film Festival. “From rediscovering our own hometown to the connections we have forged online, from found family to taking a chance on new experiences, we are all searching for our place in the world.”
The perfect example of that is “The Mushroom Man,” one of the festival’s most anticipated films. Based on the story of West Chester’s Raymond Rettew, the 20-minute film follows his work to mass produce penicillin from mushrooms. Written and directed by Rettew’s descendants and narrated by Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek,” “American Pie”), it showcases the impact of this discovery on our community and the world.
“Do you like mushrooms? Do you like West Chester? Do you like history? Do you like small stories with a massive impact? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then you will not want to miss ‘The Mushroom Man,’” Quigley raved. “It is without hyperbole that I say I have never been as excited to share a film with our audience as I am to share this 20-minute documentary. It is such an incredible story with global impact that happened right here in West Chester. Yet, it is so little known and we are happy to change that! It is the epitome of our tagline: small town, big film.”
“Hedgehog”: A timely story set at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2021, “Hedgehog” follows a young girl who goes to stay with her grandmother while her parents volunteer to fight for their country. When she encounters a badly wounded Russian soldier, there are decisions to be made.
A touching film that explores the connections we make, this coming-of-age story follows Tereek, a teen in New York City. His encounter with Artie changes his plans for the night and forever changes how he sees the world. The first film to star a DeafBlind actor, this film was a 2021 Academy Award Nominee for Best Live Action Short Film.
A father and son defy gravity to provide ice for their remote village. When the ice begins to melt, their precarious position on the side of the mountain is threatened. An animated film from Portugal, the film shows – without a single spoken word – the impact of love, loss, and connection. This film was a 2023 Academy Award Nominee for Best Animated Short Film.
The West Chester Film Festival has grown by leaps and bounds since its origin. “We are an entirely volunteer-run festival, and this is a labor of love for all of us,” Rose said. “We believe in the power of art and independent short film to create connections and an impact in our community.”
West Chester Film Festival’s main venue is Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center. Some Pop-Up Films Blocks will be shown at locations around West Chester. The closing night of the festival features a big party and the Chester Awards to deserving films. For tickets and more information, click here.
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