May 16, 2017

Highlights: Four Decades of Film at International House

The film program now known as Lightbox Film Center has a rich history. As we transition to a new era with our new name, we also felt it was a fitting moment to look back. A new exhibition on view in the gallery, curated by Jedidah Flores and Robert Cargni, culls programs, calendars, photographs and other materials to explore that important cultural legacy. Beginning with the history and development of the film program, the exhibition proceeds through a thematic exploration of curation including Social Mission, World View, and “If I Were Real” Real to Reel—focusing on representation of women and children in cinema.

The Neighborhood Film Project started in the heated social climate of the Vietnam War era as a means to challenge passive media consumption. The project, a one-woman effort realized by Linda Blackaby, was the first of its kind in Philadelphia. Truly rebellious in nature, recognizing film as a means for education and refusing to attach itself to any institution claiming otherwise, The Neighborhood Film Project found itself a home in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Christian Association. Together with their official status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the entity produced film series such as The Reel to Real and the International Cinema project. When the two split, Blackaby rebranded as The Neighborhood Film/Video Project and found a new home in the freshly constructed International House. Inspired by Quaker ideals, the original vision of International House, and the education-heavy atmosphere of University City, the Film/Video Project grew into the International House programs office, presenting films and other public programs for decades.

With our new name, Lightbox Film Center continues its mission as an independent program offering themes and perspectives otherwise neglected by commercial cinemas. As such, we hope to remain true to our roots and stay loud.