How the Pasadena International Film Festival is Uniting the Community Through Film

Over the course of nine days, PIFF will present more than 100 screenings in a wide range of categories including features, documentaries, animation, and short films.
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Photo by Lexie Alley

Thousands of filmmakers and movie buffs will flood the Playhouse District to experience the Pasadena International Film Festival (March 11-19). Over the course of nine days, PIFF will present more than 100 screenings in a wide range of categories including features, documentaries, animation, and short films. Each film block ends with an interactive Q&A session.

Photo by Marina LaBossier

“Anyone can see a movie anywhere, at any time, but what makes [PIFF] special is the people,” says PIFF Festival Director Jessica Hardin. “Filmmakers, actors, and writers are there in person so one can ask questions, have conversations, and network. The films, too, are special. Though lower budget than your average popcorn flick, it’s amazing to witness what people can get done with a dream, lots of talent, and a great deal of hard work.”

Photo by Bryan Campos

Filmmakers and screenwriters fly in from numerous continents to showcase their work. In addition to screenings, panels take place at Vroman’s Bookstore. There’s also the star-studded Great Gatsby Gala & Award Ceremony, hosted at The Speakeasy.

Since its founding in 2013, PIFF has grown both in terms of community support and submissions. “Every year we receive more and more submissions,” says Hardin. “It’s a lot of work, but we see that as a great litmus test that we must be doing something right.”

Another measure of PIFF’s impact is its ability to bring people from all over to Pasadena. “It’s amazing how many people have never before been to Pasadena until our film festival,” says Hardin. “There is [already] so much culture here, but film is special. It’s accessible to a more diverse demographic, typically…and you can’t go wrong when you offer a lounge with Girl Scout cookies and an open bar.”

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