Salisbury Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEIN From left: Glenn Koehler, Southside Film Festival director; Benjamin Bertalan, SSFF board member; and Jeff Vaclavik, SSFF board president. PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEIN From left: Glenn Koehler, Southside Film Festival director; Benjamin Bertalan, SSFF board member; and Jeff Vaclavik, SSFF board president.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Focus

X marks the spot

The Southside Film Festival (SSFF) is underway.

You may have seen those posters with the big red "X" on them.

The X isn't for the MPAA ratings of the films being shown at the SSFF.

Rather, X is the roman numeral 10, as in the SSFF 10th anniversary.

The X also marks the spot, or screening locations, for more than 57 films, through June 15, Broughal Middle School auditorium, Victory Fire House, Lehigh University Sinclair Lab Auditorium and Godfrey Daniels, all south side Bethlehem.

Back this year at Godfrey's is the Children's Film Series, which is free.

"There are a lot of people who wanted to see that happen again. So, we decided to bring it back," says Glenn Koehler, SSFF director in his first year, succeeding founding director Graham Stanford.

The longest film in the children's series is about 15 minutes. Each "block," or screening time, is about one hour. Children's series films are provided by the New York International Children's Film Festival and Scholastic's Weston Woods Studios.

The SSFF kicked off June 11, with a party at Comfort Suites, Bethlehem, and the Lehigh Valley premiere at Broughal of the documentary, "Good Ol' Freda," about Beatles' secretary Freda Kelly. The film's producer Kathy McCabe attended. "Freda" will also be screened 7:20 p.m. June 14, Broughal.

"Freda" is one of the films that SSFF board member Benjamin Bertalan spotted at South By Southwest, one of the many film festivals he attends for SSFF.

Bertalan, Koehler, SSFF board president Jeff Vaclavik and other officers and board members are not paid. Koehler began as a volunteer five years ago, then handled media outreach, was on the SSFF jury and became a board member before being appointed director last year.

This year, there's no Cultural Theme or Genre Focus. "We decided to emphasize the 10th anniversary," says Koehler.

"This year, and it's not by design, we have a lot of documentaries," Koehler says.

In addition to "Freda," there are two other music-themed documentary features: "Mama Don't like No Guitar Pickers Around Here" and "Greenwich Village: Music That Defined A Generation." Film-makers attending SSFF will tour the C F Martin & Co., Inc. guitar factory and museum, Nazareth.

"Mama," about de Plug, an Amsterdam vintage guitar shop, screens 7:20 p.m. June 13 and 1:20 p.m. June 15, Sinclair.

"Greenwich Village," with interviews of Pete Seeger, Kris Kristofferson, Don McLean, Peter Yarrow, Arlo Guthrie, Lucy and Carly Simon, Tom Chapin and Judy Collins, screens 9:20 p.m. June 13 and 5:20 p.m. June 15, Broughal.

SSFF premieres the documentary, "Tales from the Organ Trade," prior to its telecast on HBO. The screening's sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Hospital Health Network. An LVHN transplant physician will speak about the ethics of organ transplants.

Of the SSFF, Koehler says, "There's not really anything like it around here. There are independent theaters, but no festival like we have.

"We're a pretty small festival. Compared to Tribeca, we're extremely tiny. But we get a lot of big international films that otherwise, no one would be able to see.

"We're not vying for the latest James Franco movie to be shown in Bethlehem," says Koehler.

Screenings, ticket information: