International House Philadelphia proudly announces its newly renamed film program, Lightbox Film Center, with a Lightbox Launch Party (ihousephilly.org/calendar/lightbox-launch-party) on Thursday, May 18. The evening will include a 25th-anniversary screening of the seminal 1990s film Gas Food Lodging, with an appearance by award-winning director Allison Anders, followed by a celebration with music, food and cocktails. The event will be free and open to the public.
“We’re thrilled that after nearly 40 years as the hub of moving image culture in Philadelphia, our historic cinema has a new name,” says Chief Curator Jesse Pires. “If you’re a member or regular patron of our program, you know that it has long been a ‘hidden gem’ of the local arts scene. With our new name, we hope to shed our ‘hidden’ status and bring more visibility to the singular programming we do here, week after week, month after month, year after year.”
For decades, film lovers have flocked to the theater at International House for an unparalleled selection of film, video and media art programs, generating conversation about important social and political issues. Hosting dozens of luminary directors and artists, presenting both touring and original film series and one of the only area venues to project both 16 and 35mm celluloid film in addition to state-of-the-art digital formats, Lightbox Film Center has developed an international reputation as a leading venue for contemporary moving image works.
With the new name, Lightbox Film Center can distinguish its identity from its parent organization, yet the mission remains the same as ever: to advance underrepresented modes and makers of moving image art, build a community around a shared reverence for cinema, and celebrate the projected image as a framework for diverse ideas and perspectives. The name “Lightbox” was chosen for its reference to film production and because the Film Center will continue to shine a light on important works that can’t be seen anywhere else in the Philadelphia region.
The May 18 event centers around the 1992 film The New York Times called “... a big film in a small setting, a keenly observed character study of women who don't know their own strength.” Winner of Independent Spirit and New York Film Critics Circle awards, Anders’ breakout indie story of a single mother (Brooke Adams) raising two teenage daughters in a sunbaked New Mexico town is remarkable for its sincere depiction of characters finding agency. Shade (Fairuza Balk) and Trudi (Ione Skye) have different ways of coping with the absence of a father, bringing no shortage of grief for their overworked mother. With a soundtrack by J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), Gas Food Lodging is an enduring classic of the halcyon days of indie cinema, now begging to be rediscovered by a new generation of film lovers.
“To me, this film perfectly embodies both the indie aesthetic that activated my personal interest in cinema when I first came to International House as a volunteer in the 1990s, and a moment in our cultural history when quiet, thoughtful and/or unexpected works were readily accessible in mainstream spaces in a way they hadn’t been before,” Pires says. “And we’re here to ensure that filmgoers always have a rich, varied selection of moving image art they can’t find anywhere else in the region.”
The launch event is part of an extraordinary spring season of film programs, all of which will continue to take place at the theater inside International House Philadelphia in University City.
Thursday, May 18, 7 p.m. Free.
Film Center, International House Philadelphia, 3701 Chestnut Street,
(215) 387-5125, lightboxfilmcenter.org Tickets can be reserved here.
ABOUT LIGHTBOX FILM CENTER
Lightbox Film Center is Philadelphia’s premier exhibitor of film and moving image art. As a signature arts program of International House Philadelphia, an independent nonprofit organization, Lightbox curates and presents an unparalleled slate of repertory, nonfiction, experimental and international cinema. Beyond the traditional movie theater experience, Lightbox delivers enriching film programs with artist talks, live music and other multidisciplinary programs.
ABOUT ALLISON ANDERS
An American film and television director, Allison Anders spent her teens hitchhiking across the country—experiences she credits with giving her raw inspiration for her cinematic portraits. A graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Anders made her feature writing and directing debut with Border Radio (1987), a study of the LA punk scene, in collaboration with two classmates. Her first solo effort, Gas Food Lodging (1992), premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and earned her a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best New Director. The film received five Spirit Award nominations, including Best Director and Best Screenplay, and actress Fairuza Balk won the Best Actress award. Gas Food Lodging also won the Deauville Film Festival Critics Award. Later films include Mi Vida Loca, Four Rooms, Grace of My Heart, Sugar Town and Things Behind the Sun. She has received numerous awards for her work and has been featured in retrospective exhibitions around the world. Anders is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant" and a Peabody Award.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL HOUSE PHILADELPHIA
Founded in 1910, International House Philadelphia is the region’s center for international arts, culture, educational and residential activities. It offers housing for students from around the world and high-quality arts and cultural programs, including its renowned film program.