“Pasadena is known for celebrating arts and culture,” said Jessica Hardin, Executive Director of the Pasadena International Film Festival of PIFF.
Yet, when she moved here ten years ago, she felt that the film scene was lacking. In 2012, she and her husband began laying the groundwork for the first Pasadena Film Festival. The PIFF opened in 2014 and has grown to include ten days of films of all genres plus a screenwriting competition. This year’s festival will include over 100 films from 15 different countries.
“What’s exciting about a film festival is that you can meet the filmmakers,” said Hardin.
This year, for the first time, there will be a Filmmaker’s Lounge hosted at Lineage Performing Arts Center. These casual mixers will give guests and filmmakers a chance to network and discuss films. Hardin adds that the PIFF combines the interests of the audience and the industry to strike a balance between a local festival and a Hollywood-type event.
“Film festivals are exciting because people get dressed up and are excited to be there,” she said.
Hardin adds that the movie theater experience and the red carpet add elements of specialness to the screenings. In an age where most people consume media on smartphones, watching and focusing on a big screen in a theater is a welcome treat. Hardin is a big supporter of local theaters and chose the Laemmle in Pasadena as the home of PIFF to support local movie theaters. She also partners with other arts organizations like Lineage Performing Arts Center and the Boston Court Theater to cross-promote other art forms.
“We create the programming based on what we receive,” said Hardin. “We’re unique in that we don’t curate that much.”
This means that each festival is unique and there are no set number of entries per genre. Hardin explains that each block is named and created based especially for that year but some groups like horror, thriller and Power Grrls! (women-focused films) have become standards. From documentary to comedy shorts, the PIFF has it all. The film blocks will be every evening from Wednesday, March 8 until Wednesday, March 15.
“Our niche is quality and out genre is excellence,” said Hardin.
Even the awards at the Great Gatsby Gala and Award Ceremony are unique each year. Hardin choose the 1920s theme because she feels the era balances a sense of wildness with elegance and class. The fun-filled gala rounds out the festival and celebrates the filmmakers and screenwriters, many of whom, have traveled far to attend.
“Film is so important,” she said. “it adds so much to our lives even if [the benefits are] intangible.”
The Pasadena Film Festival will take place from Wednesday, March 8 until Wednesday, March 15. Passes range from $28 for a Day Pass to $125 for an All Access Pass. For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.pasadenafilmfestival.org.