CLEARFIELD – Clearfield County has many things going for it: woodlands, waterways and wildlife to name a few. But the county may soon be known for something else, an international film destination.
Though small in population compared to many other areas, the county has produced several filmmakers, one of which is an Academy Award winner.
And this November an inaugural film festival will find its way to the Rowland Theatre of Philipsburg. But Philipsburg isn’t in Clearfield County, you say. And that is correct.
But the man who came up with the plan explained to the Clearfield County Recreation and Tourism Authority that Philipsburg seems more like part of Clearfield County than Centre County, and the Rowland is a partner with Visit Clearfield County.
Furthermore, if all goes according to plan, Clearfield County will reap the benefits of the festival for years to come.
Spencer Folmar is originally from the area, having graduated from West Branch Area School District. He is now a filmmaker and resident of Los Angeles, but he regularly returns to Clearfield County.
Last year, his film “Generational Sins” made its debut at the Rowland and was also shown at the Ritz in Clearfield.
He has been working on another film in the area, about the opioid epidemic in small towns across the country. And now, Folmar is planning the inaugural Veritas Film Festival in November. Veritas, he noted, is Latin for “truth.”
“There is something really special about this area,” he said to the CCRTA board at Wednesday’s meeting, noting how the lead actor in “Generational Sins” is from Australia and his only exposure to the United States prior to that film had been big cities, like New York.
Folmar said he regularly gets texts from the actor talking about his experience in Clearfield County and sharing pictures.
Folmar strongly believes that Central Pennsylvania, especially Clearfield County, has something people from other places, especially big cities, and other countries are interested in and want to experience.
The festival is scheduled to run Nov. 9-15 and each day will feature a different category of film making. Friday will have feature films, Saturday student films, Sunday “hard faith” films, which Folmar said do not necessarily have to do with religion.
Monday’s category is Made in Pennsylvania and will feature films that have some connection to the state. Tuesday will feature documentaries and experimental films, Wednesday will be for screenplays, which will be read aloud on stage by actors and Thursday will end with short films, which are regularly the most popular categories at film festivals.
Folmar noted how some film festivals are focused on places, such as Telluride in Colorado. The way the festival will be marketed will focus on having filmmakers and other industry members fly into the area and stay in Clearfield.
He said the Web site will feature Clearfield area hotels, and Veritas staff will greet them at airports and take them directly to Clearfield. Folmar added that “film makers like festivals” and they like experiencing new places.
Pennsylvania, he said, is often seen as the place of Amish people, or Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but central Pennsylvania has much more to offer, an old-fashioned, heartland feeling that people are looking for.
The Web site for the festival has only been live for a short time and already they have 50 submissions from around the world, including from Paris, South Korea and Iran.
In the future, Folmar said he hopes to expand the festival to include venues in Clearfield, including the Ritz, the Clearfield Arts Studio Theatre and maybe even the Super 322 Drive-In.
Information about the festival and submission guidelines can be found at www.withoutabox.com, a one-stop listing of film festivals around the world. Other information can be found at www.eventbrite.com, search for Veritas Film Fest.