This past March, the Laemmle Playhouse 7 came alive, bustling with filmgoers and filmmakers alike. Now going into its seventh year, the Pasadena International Film Festival (PIFF) has made a name for itself as one of the go-to film festivals in the Los Angeles region, curating more than 100 films from 15-plus countries. From student films to big-budget features, PIFF had it all.
PIFF has been praised among audience members and filmmakers for its sense of community. Jon Sumple, director and producer of Extraordinary: The Seeding, winner of best documentary at PIFF, sums it up saying, “This is by far the best [festival] I’ve been to. They really care about the filmmakers.” Pasadena native Jamal Johnson, a lead actor in 2 Wrongs, agrees: “This experience has been nothing less than amazing. The film has already received multiple awards, both domestically and internationally, but by far this is the best experience I’ve had at a festival.”
Festival director Jessica Hardin and creative director Marco Neves founded the nine-day festival with the intention of presenting the best independent films from around the world. Along the way, they have created an artistic community within the city.
Lauren Finerman, director of Paper Birds, praises Hardin and Neves for making her feel welcomed. “They have made it feel like a little family, which feels really nice,” she says.
Local establishments took part in festival events outside of the film screenings: Vroman’s Bookstore hosted panels, the Pasadena Playhouse was home to the filmmaker’s lounge and a live podcast studio, and the Speakeasy hosted the 1920s-themed awards ceremony.