For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development

Spielberg Movie Chosen for New Citywide Film Literacy Program, Renowned Director “Honored” to Be a Part of One Film

PHILADELPHIA, February 5, 2008 - Three-time Academy Award-winning director and producer Steven Spielberg was thrilled to learn that One Film--the Free Library of Philadelphia’s new film education program--had chosen Empire of the Sun as its featured selection in its debut year.

“I feel privileged that you consider my movie an important part of film literacy,” wrote Mr. Spielberg in a letter addressed to One Film co-directors Ruth Perlmutter and Carrie Rickey. “Thank you for allowing my film to be part of a program that will help educate communities, not only about the violence toward children in war zones of the past, but also of those in the present.”

Operating in partnership with, and as a complement to, One Book, One Philadelphia--One Film is a two-week film education program whose mission is to promote film literacy and critical thinking by encouraging all Philadelphians to watch, study, and discuss a single film.

The 2008 One Film program will kick off with an “opening night” screening of Empire of the Sun on Thursday, February 21, at 7:00 p.m. at Moore College of Art and Design’s Stewart Auditorium. This screening will be preceded by a reception at 6:00 p.m. in the Moore College Atrium and Galleries. There is no charge for admission, but seating is limited. Tickets will be given at the door, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

During the One Film program period--which will run from February 21 through March 6, 2008--Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun will be screened eight times at Free Library locations and other venues throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Additionally, 300 DVD copies of the film have been distributed to Philadelphia high schools and adult literacy organizations, with another 200 copies in circulation throughout the Free Library system. To supplement audiences’ experiences, and to engage them critically as active viewers, a variety of related events and activities will also be offered--including lectures, workshops, and panel discussions. For a complete listing of events, view the Free Library’s 2008 One Film calendar online, or download a full-length print version, at

“Literacy isn’t just about books,” said Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation CEO Linda E. Johnson. “In a world that is more visually driven and media-saturated than ever before, a literate person must cultivate visual media comprehension skills--alongside traditional reading skills--in order to understand and evaluate the many types of messages we encounter every day.”

One Film was established in memory of Archie Perlmutter--a founding board member of the Philadelphia International Film Festival and co-founder, and former artistic director, of the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival. When asked how she came to approach the Free Library with the idea for One Film, program founder Ruther Perlmutter said, “I wanted to pay tribute to my late husband in a way that would combine his love of film analysis and entertainment in a broad and innovative fashion. One Film is the first program of its kind in the country, and we hope that it will resound throughout Philadelphia.”

Over the course of several weeks in 2007, a selection committee composed of Philadelphians with a profound appreciation of film--including academics, artists, and educators--convened to select a film thematically related to the 2008 One Book, One Philadelphia featured title, Dave Eggers’ What Is the What. Their final selection--the featured title for this inaugural year of the One Film program--was Steven Spielberg’s 1987 war epic, Empire of the Sun.

Adapted for the screen by Tom Stoppard from J.G. Ballard’s semiautobiographical novel of the same name, Empire of the Sun stars Christian Bale, John Malkovich, and Miranda Richardson, and was nominated for six Academy Awards in 1988, including Best Cinematography. A beautiful and compelling work, the film presents a vision of war though the eyes of a child, telling the story of Jim Graham, a young British expatriate who is separated from his family during the Japanese invasion of Shanghai. One Film audiences will be encouraged to draw connections between Empire of the Sun and the featured selection of the 2008 One Book, One Philadelphia program--What Is the What--as testimonials of the experiences of children in war zones.

The 2008 One Film program has been made possible by the generous support of lead sponsor the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, with additional support from the William Penn Foundation as well as individual sponsors.

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Central Library on the Parkway, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than six million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely-used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850