Piazza gets ‘Awesome’ summer film line up

Josh Gold­bloom is host­ing ‘The Awe­some Fest’ at the Piazza in North­ern Liber­ties this sum­mer.

When Josh Gold­bloom saw the over­sized screen go­ing up on the wall at the Piazza at Schmidts a few years ago, his gut in­stinct told him he needed to take ad­vant­age of the op­por­tun­ity that presen­ted it­self.

“I was just kind of see­ing that screen on the wall when it was first built,” ex­plained the North­ern Liber­ties res­id­ent. “I just thought, someone’s gotta take con­trol of that screen and make it hap­pen.”

So he de­cided to setup a meet­ing with Tower In­vest­ments Inc., the de­velopers be­hind the Piazza.

He pitched the idea of host­ing a free out­door screen­ing series of well-known in­de­pend­ent films that people would not be able to see oth­er­wise.

The North­east Philly nat­ive’s in­ten­tion was to pair his love of in­de­pend­ent film — he’s an in­die film­maker him­self — with his love for the city that he’s from.

“Philly’s great, I don’t think any­one can ar­gue that,” Gold­bloom ex­plained. “It’s an amaz­ing city with a lot of tal­en­ted artists, but where’s the rock star in it?”

Be­ing a film­maker him­self, he knows how hard it can be to get a film without a big pro­duc­tion com­pany be­hind it out to the masses.

The folks at Tower were ex­cited about Gold­bloom’s vis­ion, and last year marked the first-ever Phil­adelphia Un­der­ground Film Fest­iv­al.

This week­end marks the start of the second sea­son of screen­ings, but the fest­iv­al has a new name.

“We are in the fi­nal pro­cess of a ma­jor re­launch/rebrand­ing of the fest­iv­al,” ex­plained Gold­bloom via e-mail. “It is now The Awe­some Fest and well, um, I’m pretty sure it’s go­ing to be awe­some.”

“I feel like it gives us more per­son­al­ity and edge,” he ex­plained.

Gold­bloom’s in­ten­tion with these screen­ings is to help cre­ate a love for in­de­pend­ent film throughout the city.

“My goal is to turn Phil­adelphia in­to the Hol­ly­wood of the East Coast,” he ex­plained. “It’s not just me, there are plenty of oth­ers cre­at­ing stuff like this.”

With the suc­cess of the first year’s fest­iv­al and the con­nec­tions he has made from his work pro­gram­ming this year’s Phil­adelphia Cine­Fest, The Awe­some Fest is go­ing to be much big­ger than last year.

“People like Josh are tak­ing things to an­oth­er level,” ex­plained Bart Blat­stein, founder and pres­id­ent of Tower In­vest­ments. “It’s a one-of-a-kind ven­ue, not just in Philly but in the world.”

Gold­bloom also has partnered with Rooftop Films, a non-profit group from New York City that runs a fest­iv­al with a sim­il­ar concept as The Awe­some Fest.

“They screen all over New York City — Man­hat­tan, Brook­lyn — all on rooftops,” Gold­bloom ex­plained. “They’re do­ing screen­ings all across the coun­try now. This year they’re do­ing the whole sum­mer with me.”

The screen­ings, though, are not just screen­ings. You don’t just show up, watch a movie then go home.

“I want to build events out of these movies,” Gold­bloom ex­plained. “The sum­mer series is about how we can util­ize the space. This sum­mer we’re get­ting out of con­trol with it. We’re in talks to build a wrest­ling rink to go along with a wrest­ling doc­u­ment­ary. We’re in talks to build an en­tire video game ar­cade in the Piazza sur­roun­ded by all these video game doc­u­ment­ar­ies. We’re in talks to do a drive in for ro­mance films. I’m work­ing with a bunch of Hol­ly­wood stu­di­os for pro­mo­tion­al events.”

“Our open­ing-night event is go­ing to be through the roof,” he said proudly.

Gold­bloom is start­ing the Awe­some Fest off with a bang as he has partnered with the com­pany be­hind the new Steven Spiel­berg movie Su­per 8 to pro­mote that film’s open­ing week­end.

On Sunday, The Awe­some Fest will host a screen­ing of the 1985 Spiel­berg clas­sic The Goon­ies at the Piazza. That’ll be fol­lowed by  Spiel­berg’s E.T.: The Ex­tra-Ter­restri­al at the Tro­ca­dero Theatre on Monday night. 

The Tro­ca­dero screen­ing in­cludes free Reeses Pieces can­dies, free passes to see Su­per 8 and more; the Piazza screen­ing in­cludes free Baby Ruth bars, movie passes, a “Truffle Shuffle” com­pet­i­tion and a Goon­ies cos­tume party.

Next week­end will start off the ac­tu­al in­die film slate with screen­ings start­ing at 8:30 p.m. at the Piazza, 2nd Street and Ger­man­town Av­en­ue.

Just how long will the screen­ings go on?

“One a week, start­ing June 3, un­til we feel like stop­ping,” Gold­bloom laughed. “Last year, we went ’til the end of Oc­to­ber.”

Help­ing to make each screen­ing an event, Gold­bloom has en­lis­ted the ser­vices of North­ern Liber­ties’ own Wood­shop Films to host a half-hour of pre-movie en­ter­tain­ment as well.

“I’m go­ing to be giv­ing him a half-hour show,” Marc Brodzik, the man be­hind Wood­shop, ex­plained. “It’s just go­ing to be a vari­ety” of the pro­grams they do.

Brodzik’s present­a­tion will start at 7:30 p.m. each week with movies start­ing at 8 p.m.

For more in­form­a­tion on The Awe­some Fest screen­ings go to www.TheAwe­some­Fest.com.

For more in­form­a­tion on Wood­shop Films and Scrapple.tv go www.scrapple.tv.

For more in­form­a­tion on The Piazza at Schmidt’s go to www.at­thepiazza.com.••

You can reach at mgodfrey@bsmphilly.com.

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