The do-it-yourself (and the heck with Hollywood) spirit will prevail this week at the second annual Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, a four-day celebration of filmmaking featuring screenings - and lots of parties - Thursday through next Sunday at nine Northern Liberties venues.

"Last year's [inaugural festival] was a great success," says festival codirector Steven Greenbaum. "More than 1,500 people attended and 60 filmmakers came."

He promised that this year will be bigger and better.

"We'll show 195 films, including 87 features, 24 documentaries, and nine music videos. Last year, it was 151," he said. "And we expect more than 70 filmmakers."

But does Philadelphia need yet another film festival?

"The more the merrier, I've always said," Greenbaum says. "We really have a DIY attitude and serve a truly independent film community. We're talking about real indie directors who work over the weekends for three years to get a movie done."

The festival prides itself on using nontraditional venues for screenings, including cafes, an outdoor plaza, the City Fitness gym, Yards Brewing - not to mention Dave & Buster's, which will host the closing-night screening and awards presentation.

Screenings will be paired with filmmaker appearances, discussion panels, plus a happy-hour drink or a full party.

The opening-night festivities begin Thursday at 9 p.m. at Yards Brewery with a screening of Jon Gunn's adaptation of Karen Kingsbury's novel, Like Dandelion Dust, starring Mira Sorvino, Barry Pepper, and Cole Hauser. (OK, so the festival has a touch of Hollywood after all.) It'll be followed by a party at North Bowl Lounge.

Greenbaum said that while he received submissions from filmmakers from across the country, the festival has strong local roots and will feature 18 flicks by Philadelphia-area directors, including The Maid, a short by Temple MFA alumnus Heidi Saman about cultural misunderstanding between an Egyptian housemaid and her employers that was shown last year at Cannes.

Philadelphia native Joe Stakun's documentary I Love My Bicycle: The Story of FBM Bikes, tells the story of BMX bike fanatic Steve Crandall, who at the age of 17 started a little T-shirt company called Fat Bald Men (FBM), which has evolved into a major DIY bicycle company.

The closing-night feature is Just Peck, directed by Michael A. Nickles. A black comedy, it's about Michael Peck, a geeky high school sophomore who is tormented by his teachers and his peers, but most of all by his parents - played by Marcia Cross and Adam Arkin, - who force him to sign contracts with them about all his extracurricular activities. (The screening, at 6:17 p.m. next Sunday at Dave & Buster's, will be followed by an awards ceremony and party.)

Greenbaum said he's particularly proud of this year's lineup of documentaries.

No. 4 Street of Our Lady by Penn State profs Barbara Bird, Judy Maltz and Richie Sherman, examines the story of Francisca Halamajowa, a Polish-Catholic woman who hid 16 of her Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust.

Kate Perotti's playful documentary, MOMz Hot ROCKs, tells the story of the musical trend that has swept the country: Mom rock bands. The film follows six bands around the country between 2004 and 2007, including the Mydols, Housewives on Prozac, CandyBand, and Frump.

For information and tickets, visit www.piff2009.com or www.piff2009.blogspot.com.
Contact staff writer Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.