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Film Festival Takes Over Jim Thorpe

The town embraces the 6th annual Jim Thorpe Independent Film Fest


"It's my favorite weekend of the whole year," says Randall Sellers, owner of Sellers Books + Art (65 Broadway, Jim Thorpe) along Broadway in Jim Thorpe. "The festival is a great way to showcase the town of Jim Thorpe and its beautiful surroundings. It also brings a lot of people to town, which is a boost for the local economy." As an artist, collector, and steward of artistic work, his sentiment is genuine. And this year, the town is rolling out the red carpet for the event's sixth edition.


The Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival is a four-day event that brings new faces into Sellers Bookstore and Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.


The festival was founded in 2017 by Todd and Jocelyn Morris, a New York couple who moved to Jim Thorpe. It has grown each year since and showcases 87 films from refined feature-length narratives you'd expect at the box office and short films made right here in Carbon County.


The festival is known for its variety and inclusion. "We are proud to be presenting films of every genre and budget," says Founder Todd Morris, "especially work by maverick filmmakers who strive to break boundaries and push buttons with no fear of controversy."

Morris takes great pride in bringing the event to Mauch Chunk Opera House – home of the film festival. There's an entire film block dedicated to local creators. Significant filmmakers and polished storylines are a highlight, but they'll never edge out the people who call this place home. Everyone can present, indulge, connect, and enjoy harmoniously. The festival takes over this magical little town, and vice versa.


The festival will include live music blocks and dedicated audio film performances this year. These additions are designed to make the festival more immersive and enjoyable for audiences. The AV blocks will include interactive "projection mapping" performances provided by Great Circles Music Collective out of Philadelphia.


"Jim Thorpe is ready for this," Matthew Curry said of the progressive addiction. Curry is the Music and Technical Director of JTIFF. "There is a welcoming artistic vibe here."


Sellers say the festival is a great way to showcase the town of Jim Thorpe. He says that the town is a beautiful and welcoming place and that the festival helps to bring people together.

He also says the festival is an excellent opportunity for filmmakers to showcase their work. He says the festival is a supportive and encouraging environment and a great way to get feedback on your films.


Overall, the Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival is an excellent event for anyone who loves film. It is a great way to see new films, meet new people, and experience the town of Jim Thorpe.


Come April 20th, Sellers will swap novels for movie-related merchandise, and show-biz books in his shop windows. He'll offer ticket holder discounts all weekend long. Donerds Donuts (76 Broadway, Jim Thorpe), known for its inventive flavors and filling combinations, has put the call out on social media for film-themed donut inspiration. Artisanal Gifts (103 Broadway, Jim Thorpe) is giving VIP ticket holders a $5 credit toward any item in the store and running a shoe special for all ticket holders. Mugglets Mug Coffee Shop (79 Broadway Jim Thorpe), is preparing the Filmmakers Lounge for all the directors and producers. There’s nothing better than a comfortable place to caffeinate barely a stone's-throw away from the big screen. They'll also offer cinema theme cookies to sell throughout the weekend.


"It brings in a cosmopolitan and creative energy," Sellers says. "City dwellers love to come here, so we do experience that on most weekends, but the effect is tripled on that weekend."

Jim Thorpe, drenched in history, robed with charm, and equipped with the organic beauty of mountain views, attracts an intelligent (or at least well-researched) traveler. Often people are looking to trade skyscrapers for seasonally scented air, taking an interest in learning and culture. The film festival, however, isn't your typical weekend in our oasis outside the concrete jungle. This is a fresh take on "destination event”.


World Class film, culture, and music all dropped into one of America's most charismatic small towns; as Sellers noted, it brings an array of creators and visionaries and those who cherish their work. This isn't just a group of polished city people – this is a niche group. When they join forces with like-minded locals and shop owners, everyone is connected by the communal love of art.


With film blocks spanning from late morning to the twilight hours of the night, galas, parties, and meet and greets, the streets constantly stir with festival energy. It's year six, so Broadway knows the drill by now, and they're ready to "step and repeat".


"It becomes completely immersive," says Amy Pienta, co-owner of Somersault Letterpress on Broadway. Pienta and partner Mitch Hanson designed the layouts for all festival literature and programming related to the festival. They also print all participants' credentials and award ceremony hardware. "We displayed rack cards in the shop back in October, and every single one was gone," says Pienta. "Seeing those people come back, schedule blocks of time, and return to the shop, it's just really special."


"It seems like everyone who comes in the shop and in the coffee shops and restaurants is chatting about the festival," says Hanson. "The festival is so impressive, but it's bigger than just the Opera House".

Amy and Mitch are getting the ornate metallic details printed on the black card stock credentials, taking care to color code each one correctly for each director, VIP, and press member. They're already mocking up award certificates too, but no matter how prepared they are, getting the winners' names typed, spellchecked, printed, framed, and up to the Opera House on the closing night will be downright nerve-wracking.

"We love that people are sharing what we create and make," says Hanson. "It's neat to see them get excited to take home their credentials, knowing we made that memento to return with them from Jim Thorpe."


The films, the red carpet, and the people will make it feel more like Cannes or Berlin, but the hometown charm of Jim Thorpe will make it feel like a party thrown just for you. All are welcome here; all voices are heard and lifted to the rafters. The festival's mantra is “Eyes and Minds Wide Open”, and the creators would love to see you there.


Check out the film festival happenings on jimthorpeindiefilmfest.com

Film schedule can be found HERE

A list of all of the films can be found HERE


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