Last Updated: 5/5/24


Since 1992, the Secret Cinema has been the Philadelphia area’s premiere floating repertory cinema series, bringing hundreds of unique programs to nightclubs, bars, coffee houses, museums, open fields, colleges, art galleries, bookstores, and sometimes even theaters and film festivals. Drawing on its own large private film archive (as well as other collections), the Secret Cinema attempts to explore the uncharted territory and the genres that fall between the cracks, with programs devoted to educational and industrial films, cult and exploitation features, cartoons, rare television, local history, home movies, erotic films, politically incorrect material, and the odd Hollywood classic. As long as it exists on real celluloid, that is—Secret Cinema screenings never use video/digital projection. While mainly based in Philadelphia, the Secret Cinema has also brought programming to other cities and countries.

From Philadelphia with Love 2024:

More Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films

at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Bryn Mawr Film Institute
824 W. Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA

Thursday, April 13, 2023
7:30 pm
Admission: $13.50, $8.00 BMFI members, $11.00 seniors/students, $9.00 children.

On Thursday, May 16, the Secret Cinema will return to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute to present a unique program of short films called From Philadelphia With Love 2024: Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films. While most area residents are familiar with Philadelphia films such as Rocky, Trading Places, and the works of M. Night Shayamalan, there is a whole world of locally-made films that has been forgotten -- the ephemeral short films that were primarily made by small independent companies for the non-theatrical market. While most school districts, television stations and traveling salesmen have long ago discarded their 16mm film projectors, we at Secret Cinema have not, and are proud to present a look back at these celluloid time capsules that would otherwise not be seen again.

The Secret Cinema has been collecting, archiving and screening this fascinating area of local film history for over two decades now. This newest edition of our Philly film program was shown last month at Philadelphia's Bok Building to great success. Featuring all-new selections acquired in the last couple of years, we are excited to project them for the first time in Bryn Mawr.

There will be one complete show at 7:30 pm. Admission is $13.50, $11.00 seniors/students, $8.00 BMFI members.

Just a few highlights of From Philadelphia with Love 2024… will be:

We the People (1977, Dir: Hugh King) - A vivid chronicle of life and problems in Hartville Street, in working class Kensington during the early 1970s. A neighborhood group discusses absentee landlords, block clean-ups and race relations (all with strong Philly accents), and drunks sing in corner taprooms. This amazing film -- possibly the most Philadelphia film ever made -- was included in the very first program of International House's Neighborhood Film and Video Project screening series.

Life is a Lark at Willow Grove Park (1955, Dir: Albert Renick) - A mid-century, Kodachrome look at the beloved historic amusement park which opened in 1896 (and today is the site of the Willow Grove Park Mall). This film was produced shortly after the park was sold off by its longtime owner, the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC, the predecessor to SEPTA). There is a visual survey of restaurants, picnic areas and rides, including the Thunderbolt, the park's main wooden roller coaster -- plus a classic fun house, featuring moving obstacles that a modern-day liability lawyer would not be likely to approve. Much of the then-surviving architecture displays its origins from the time of John Phillip Sousa's famed annual residencies there at the start of the previous century.

Make Way for the Past (1976, Dir: Brian Kellman) - There was a time, not so long ago, when an exciting new housing boom in Philadelphia meant restoration of historic homes, not demolition and replacement with shoddy construction! This wonderful film highlights passionate homeowners improving their storied properties in Elfreth's Alley, Society Hill, Queen Village and Germantown. The careful techniques and research needed for preserving the past are explained. "Produced as a public service by Reliance Insurance Companies," and directed by past Secret Cinema guest Brian Kellman.

Plus much, much more!


  • Fri., May 10 @ Puck (Doylestown, Pa.): D.J. Silvia & Jay Schwartz (plus 2 live bands) at Esophageal Cancer Education Foundation fundraiser

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    Secret Cinema 1999 Annual Report

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    Secret Cinema 1997 Annual Report

    Information about the 1998 Secret Cinema "Class Trip" to the Syracuse Cinefest

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