Bethlehem’s SouthSide Film Festival returns for 17th annual festival June 15-19

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh Valley’s longest running film festival is set to return June 15-19 for its 17th year after a brief hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic. With a new director, a fresh slate of films, and screenings in beloved institutions across Bethlehem’s SouthSide, the festival’s triumphant return signals a renewed commitment to bringing quality independent films from across the globe to your backyard.

The festival’s incoming director, Jenn Cotto, said last year’s cancelled festival was unfortunate but brought renewed effort into continuing the annual event hosted by the SouthSide Film Institute. “We’ve all missed sitting in a theatre with friends laughing until we cry or getting teary-eyed at a heartfelt documentary,” said Cotto, who took over the helm of the festival last year. “We’re so happy that, with the community’s vaccination efforts, and the tireless efforts of our frontline workers, that we’re able to experience movies in a theatre again this year.”

The festivities kick off on Tuesday, June 15th with the festival’s opening night party hosted at Color Me Mine on 4th Street in Bethlehem. Fest-goers can then head to the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts for a slate of opening night movies that includes Women of Steel, a feature-length documentary from director Robynne Murphy. The movie, which chronicles the struggles of women to gain employment in New South Wales’ steel industry, has obvious ties to the Lehigh Valley. “It’s hard to think of a more fitting movie to bring Australia to Bethlehem,” said Glenn Koehler, Vice President of the festival and Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the National Museum of Industrial History. “The trials and tribulations of women at Bethlehem Steel, and the important work they did to help build our nation, have seen new light in recent years. This important work shows that even halfway across the globe, their struggles were not unique.

 The movies continue throughout the week at Touchstone Theatre, Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, and the National Museum of Industrial History. Other events include the Late Night screening, featuring Bad Candy, a fictional feature that follows New Salem radio DJs Chilly Billy and Paul as they relive and recount the town’s most twisted and bloody Halloween tales.

Films with local ties include:

  • Betting on Bethlehem, a look at the social and economic impacts of a casino on the community

  • A Recipe for Tofu Scramble, an animated short by Northampton Community College graduate Alex Fink

  • Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa, A documentary that follows workers at an abortion helpline in Philadelphia

  • Small Town, Big Canvas, featuring Dripped on the Road, an artist outfit responsible for numerous murals across Bethlehem and the Greater Lehigh Valley

  • Frank Parese, A Jersey Shore Veteran Story, directed by local filmmakers Jennifer Suwak and Steve Abruzzese

  • REVERB/ERATIONS, which takes a look at the DIY/indie music scene in Bethlehem

The festival concludes on Saturday with a closing screening of Vinyl Nation and the annual closing party.  Vinyl Nation is a feature-length documentary focusing on the resurgence of records and what old technology says about our relationship to music and each other in a divided time. The closing night party kicks off immediately after the screening at Color Me Mine.

Tickets to all screenings and parties are $10 per person, per screening. All-access passes, granting unlimited admission for one individual to films and parties, will be available at venues and at the festival’s headquarters at Deja Brew (101 W. 4th St, Bethlehem) for $50. A full list of films, descriptions, events, times, etc. can be found at

About the SouthSide Film Festival
The SouthSide Film Festival is an annual five-day event featuring international films, guest filmmakers, juried selections, locally produced films, seminars, and networking opportunities for filmmakers and fans of independent film. The SouthSide Film Festival is a program of The SouthSide Film Institute, a not-for-profit volunteer-run organization promoting the art of the independent filmmaker. Find more information at


Information provide to TVL by:
Glenn Koehler