October 11th, 2019
For the past 18 years, the First Person Arts Film Festival has brought provocative think pieces to the stage for Philadelphia’s viewing pleasure.
It’s a tireless effort compiled by a tiny collaborative who for nearly 20 years has delivered great storytelling…
It’s a tireless effort compiled by a tiny collaborative who for nearly 20 years has delivered great storytelling across multiple topics. It’s a trait that emerges from its routine story slams, and colorful ensemble of guest speakers, writers and actors on any given night, but arguably its the level of documentary art that goes into the festival that puts FPA on the map.
This year, its annual two-week festival beginning Nov. 3 is comprised of four main themes, encompassing over 20 events: Women on the Revolution, Immortal, Becoming Philadelphia and its popular StorySlam series including a camp for beginners looking to tell their story across topics.
Looking at the rundown of events, the highlight of the First Person Arts Festival will assuredly be its marquee show, called #IMNOJANEDOE. This event will feature stories from survivors of sexual assault and a discussion with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Megan Twohey, who broke the doors off the Harvey Weinstein case.
In advance of all of these shows, we caught up with Jamie Brunson, the executive director of First Person Arts, and asked what Philly can expect from this year’s festival and just how inspired we’ll all be to become storytellers in our own right once the dust settles on Year No. 18.
How much planning goes into the First Person Arts Festival and is there always an overarching theme, or does FPA just search for the best content to convey?
Oh my gosh! Our team works tirelessly on the festival all year. The theme for this year’s is Transformed. We looked for compelling stories that changed the person and the spaces around them.
What was the impetus into turning this into its own annual festival, and did the success of Fringe in Philadelphia fuel decision making?
This will be our 18th annual festival. In fact, the festival was our first program back in 2001. It’s the only one in the world that features true personal stories told across genres — no myths or fables for us! It’s all right here in Philly.
Which show or shows should festival goers get excited about?
I must say that I’m really excited about #IMNOJANEDOE. Most of us can easily name Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, R. Kelly, etc. But can we as easily name the women who risked it all to spark a movement? Or the journalists that amplified their voices? This event opens the festival and celebrates the voice of a woman out to change the world. Megan Twohey, [the co-author of “She Said,” a New York Times Bestseller], will be with us along with Jim DeRogatis, author of “Soulless: The Case Against R.Kelly.” We’ll also have a number of survivors a part of this event as well.
I would also recommend everyone to check out our workshops that we have. If you’ve ever been interested in storytelling, these workshops are designed to help you sharpen your skills. Our “Becoming Philadelphia” series highlights stories from the people in our very own neighborhoods in Philly — this will be an exciting exchange! And of course our StorySlams, they’re a crowd favorite and always sell out. Honestly, you shouldn’t miss anything — there’s something for everyone!
What do you hope is the one takeaway festival goers leave with?
We want every audience member to know that they are important. Their voice is meaningful and when they use it, they can [create serious] change.
First Person Arts Festival | Nov. 3-17, Times, cost and locations vary. firstpersonarts.org/Festival