Keegan-Michael Key, Madeline Anderson to be honored at annual, weeklong event

PHOTO PROVIDED Pictured above is a ribbon cutting, marking the 2019 Centre Film Festival in State College. This year’s festival will take place Nov. 1 through 7.

STATE COLLEGE — The Centre Film Festival announced its 2021 festival lineup running Nov. 1-7 offering both in-person and virtual screenings and events, including a star-studded awards ceremony.

The inaugural Chandler Living Legacy Award will be presented to Emmy and Peabody Award-winning actor, writer, producer and Penn State alumni Keegan-Michael Key.

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to pioneering filmmaker (“A Tribute to Malcolm X,” “Integration Report 1”) and PBS in-house producer of Sesame Street and The Electric Company (“The Easy Reader” starring Morgan Freeman), Pennsylvania native, Madeline Anderson.

The in-person film festival will kick-off its red-carpet ribbon-cutting ceremony live at The State Theatre on Monday, Nov. 1, followed by two days of in-person screenings and panels before moving to the Mishler Theatre in Altoona, Pa. for one night and then to the Rowland Theatre to kick off a weekend of films and visiting filmmakers from Friday, Nov. 5 to Sunday, Nov. 7.

Tickets to screenings and events are available to the public for purchase at www.centrefilm.org.

Penn State alum, Patrick Fabian (“Better Call Saul” and Apple TV+ “Morning Show”) will return, in-person, to his mother’s hometown, Philipsburg, for the screening of “Driver X” at the Rowland Theatre, where his mom was an usher when she was a teen. It will be their first time back in the theatre since she was a kid. In “Driver X,” Fabian plays a stay-at-home dad who goes on a voyage driving for a rideshare app through LA’s late-night Tinder-fueled party scene.

Another in-person post-screening Q&A by State College native, Joshua Leonard, follows the screening of his directorial film, “Fully Realized Humans,” a SXSW favorite, co-starring Jess Weixler, about a pregnant couple on the precipice of parenthood.

“Drunk Bus,” another festival indie darling, is premiering in Central PA virtually and was produced by PSU alum, Ian Tarbert. The film, starring Charlie Tahan, follows a directionless campus bus driver and a punk-rock security guard as they form an unlikely kinship navigating the unpredictable late shift known as the “drunk bus.”

Penn State alum and State College local, cinematographer Michael Craven, appears as a special guest with DJ Harder to go behind-the-scenes on their cinematography in Netflix’s “The Chair.”

Including some U.S. and Pa. premieres, the festival will showcase a total of more than 80 films across a wide range of genres, some include Sundance, Telluride, and SXSW Festival award winners. Emmy-award winner, “Belly of the Beast,” screens online with a livestream Q&A during the week. Sony release, “Julia,” will be screening opening night at the festival simultaneous to its theatrical premiere nationwide.

Pennsylvania premieres include U.S. and international films such as Geena Davis’ Bentonville FF winners “Kili Big” and “Americanized,” “We Burn Like This” (fresh from Deauville FF and Heartland FF), “Lady Buds” (fresh from Hot Docs), “My So-Called Selfish Life” (fresh from Woodstock FF), and “Death and Bowling” (winner of best narrative feature audience award, Outfest FF). “The Forbidden Strings,” a film set in Iran about Afghani rock-and-rollers also premieres, along with “Sisters Rising” about six Native American women fighting to restore personal and tribal sovereignty.

Films at the festival range from comedy, sports, horror, drama, kid flicks and documentary, and address pride on screen, indigenous people’s heritage, re-entry after incarceration, police reform, reproductive rights, and immigration.

More than a dozen renowned filmmakers and industry veterans will be in attendance from the U.S. and around the world.

The prestigious festival awards are chosen by a panel of renowned film industry professionals, including Flavio Alves, Skye Borgman, Nancy Cohen, Niav Conty, Tim Gordon, Mandy Looney, Mike Madigan, Kevin Mambo, Tim Naylor, Peter Nickowitz, Traven Rice, Lili Jo Rosen, Eric Seals, Ya’Ke Smith, Louis Spiegler, Wilna Julmiste Taylor, April Wright, and Matt Zettell. In the spirit of the festival, emerging high school and college filmmakers join the jury to give their feedback on films in competition.

The festival was co-founded in 2019 by Penn State’s Bellisario College of Communications Professors: award-winning filmmaker, Global Fulbright Scholar, Pearl Gluck, and multimedia journalist, Curt Chandler. The 2021 festival has been a collaboration of Pearl Gluck and Penn State alumni and industry professionals, including Cassie Ross Green (Miramax alum), Ellyn Exley Dvorkin (New Line Cinema alum, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), and Kelly Corrine Berthold (CAA alum).

“I came to Central Pennsylvania to teach filmmaking,” said festival director, Pearl Gluck. “And I ended up discovering a cinematic gem, a movie palace, the Rowland, uninterruptedly showing films for a century.”

Gluck’s work has screened at Sundance, Outfest, PBS, and theatrically which inspired her to bring that experience to the region.

“To me,” she continued, “movie theatres are neutral spaces to engage in conversation and spin the yarn, and the theatre is the perfect place to kick off a festival and celebrate local storytelling. What we unearthed here was not only a history of local movie lovers, but one of movie makers rooted in Central PA, namely Donald P. Bellisario, Patrick Fabian, and Joshua Leonard, just to name a few. Not to mention people like Keegan-Michael Key who studied here at Penn State. And we’re only in our third year… I am excited to shed a light on other artists as we continue to grow.”

Elegance Bratton, film director and 2020 virtual Centre Film Festival award-winner for “Pier Kids,” said, “So dope! Thank you for lifting filmmaking up.”


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