Cinephiles will have 120 reasons to check out the 28th Philadelphia Film Festival starting next week.
The Philadelphia Film Society recently announced that festival favorites like “Jojo Rabbit,” “The Irishman” and “Just Mercy” will be screened in the latest festiva installation, all looking for some brotherly love from our local audiences during the 11-day fest from Oct. 17 to 27.
“Just Mercy” and 2019 Palme d’Or-winner “Parasite” will open the festival and the mystery “Knives Out” by the new Star Wars series helmer Rian Johnson will play during closing night festivities on Oct. 25. Johnson is expected to be in attendance for the closing night screening.
This year’s installment features films in 14 program categories that include mainstay curated sections like Spotlights, Masters of Cinema, Filmadelphia and shorts (narrative and animation) while adding new sections like Made in USA and Visions of China.
As usual, the festival features the best of the best, and much, much more, from the top film festivals around the world and plenty of features with Philadelphia roots – a documentary about the Eagle’s 2018 Super Bowl victory called “Maybe Next Year” is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
“It certainly is quite a year,” said Festival Artistic Director Michael Lerman. “Not only is the caliber of film extremely high, but I’m thrilled that we are able to showcase bold visions from a diverse cross section of voices.”
“It’s a really strong year in film and that creates a strong festival,” added Philadelphia Film Society Executive Director J. Andrew Greenblatt.
This year’s festival is showing just a few more films over last year’s roster, but is actually in a more concentrated structure to maximize viewing options.
Changes to the screening schedule are noticeable from the jump when two different films will open the festival. In the last few years one film may have two showings on opening night. A number of other films in other sections will have “opening night” showings on Friday, day two of the festival.
“Opening a lot of our signature sections with opening night films this year, very similar to how TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) does it or Sundance....we wanted to highlight a big splashy opening night for each of these sections especially since some of them are continuing into the fall and year-round programming (at the film society),” said Lerman. “It also gives us an opportunity to highlight other filmmakers and films that aren’t just the Oscar-driven gala that is the opening night gala....The thinking was to do something like that.”
Additionally, the last screenings Monday through Thursday this year will start in the 8:00 p.m. block at each of the screening venues (final screenings have usually started not later than 10:30 p.m.). Lerman said this decision came from listening to its core audience and trying to get them to see at least two movies at night who don’t want to stick around downtown too late.
“Ironically, by showing less movies in a day we’re getting the core audience, the bulk of the audience to see more movies every day,” said Lerman. “When we go smaller it seems that there’s a tighter, more focused curation that is needed and when we go bigger we’re running out of capacity. A lot of it has to do with how good a year is that there’s so much we love that we’re bursting at the seams, and this is one of those years.
“We do extensive work looking at people not going to as much as they want to because there is too much overlapping.”
This year marks a noticeable inclusion of films from streaming companies Amazon, Hulu and Netflix who are showing a combined 15 feature films of the whole slate of 120 features and shorts. The inclusion of these films into the traditional brick-and-mortar venues and the festival circuit is becoming more prominent as the online-based companies broaden their footprint in the film landscape (Cannes has notably barred Netflix films on the Croisette until they agree to theatrical distribution in France).
But as Greenblatt noted, festivals are a great way to view streaming titles on the big screen because they may not get the option otherwise.
“We believe firmly that films should be seen in a theater and we work with the streamers to make sure that happens,” he said.
Netflix has “Marriage Story,” “The Two Popes”, and the animated French film “I Lost My Body” while Amazon has the historical, high-flying “The Aeronauts” and the tragic story of actress “Seberg” at the festival. Hulu’s solo inclusion is the horror thriller “Wounds” starring Dakota Johnson and Armie Hammer.
Since the film society is all about providing the Philadelphia region with film and the film-going experience, Greenblatt and Lerman said they don’t focus on their members consumption habits outside of the festival.
“I think the average consumer, if they’re streaming more, might see us more as an event and come out,” Lerman said.
Lerman and Greenblatt did not divulge what some of their favorite films are at the festival, but recommended seeing something new.
“I always say we know it’s a big program, it’s a lot to digest, but I would highly recommend reading through the entire guide and see what you respond to,” said Greenblatt. “Go see it, experience something new, take a risk. We like everything a lot in here that’s why it’s in the festival.”
Screenings for the 28th Philadelphia Film Festival will take place at the below theaters: Ritz East (125 S. 2nd St.); Ritz Five (214 Walnut St.); and Philadelphia Film Center (1412 Chestnut Street).
Tickets may be purchased through the Festival website, www.filmadelphia.org/festival, in-person at the main Box Office at the Philadelphia Film Center, or over the phone at 215-422-4588 (Monday - Saturday from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm). The festival also has ticket packages for different curated program blocks called festival circuit, PFF sampler, world perspectives and before dawn which each feature six films from the festival.
(NOTE: Rush only tickets are available for "The Irishman," "Parasite," "Jojo Rabbit," "Knives Out," "Just Mercy," "The Nomads," and "Maybe Next Year" [Oct. 21])
For more information visit www.filmadelphia.org/festival
The complete lineup is listed below.
• Harriet, Director Kasi Lemmons. 2019, USA.
• The Irishman, Director Martin Scorsese. 2019, USA.
• Jojo Rabbit, Director Taika Waititi. 2019, USA.
• Just Mercy, Director Destin Daniel Cretton. 2019, USA. Opening Night Gala
• Knives Out, Director Rian Johnson. 2019, USA. Closing Night Gala
• Marriage Story, Director Noah Baumbach. 2019, USA.
• Motherless Brooklyn, Director Edward Norton. 2019, USA.
• The Two Popes, Director Fernando Meirelles. 2019, USA, UK, Italy, Argentina.
• Waves, Director Trey Edward Shults. 2019, USA.
Masters of Cinema: The latest films by a new generation of acclaimed auteurs and established directors who continue to reshape the cinematic landscape.
• By the Grace of God, Director Franҫois Ozon. 2019, France.
• A Hidden Life, Director Terrence Malick. 2019, Germany, USA.
• It Must Be Heaven, Director Elia Suleiman. 2019, France, Qatar, Germany, Canada, Palestine, Turkey.
• Oh Mercy!, Director Arnaud Desplechin. 2019, France.
• Parasite, Director Bong Joon-Ho. 2019, South Korea. Opening Night Masters of Cinema
• Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Director Céline Sciamma. 2019, France.
• Sorry We Missed You, Director Ken Loach. 2019, UK.
• The Truth, Director Hirokazu Kore-Eda. 2019, France, Japan.
• Varda by Agnès, Director Agnès Varda. 2019, France.
• The Whistlers, Director Corneliu Porumboiu. 2019, Romania, France, Germany.
• Young Ahmed, Director Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne. 2019, Belgium, France.
Spotlights: This year’s highly anticipated titles featuring some of the biggest names in front of and behind the camera.
• The Aeronauts, Director Tom Harper. 2019, UK.
• Cunningham, Director Alla Kovgan. 2019, Germany, France, USA. Opening Night Spotlights
• Extra Ordinary, Director Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman. 2019, Ireland, Belgium.
• Honey Boy, Director Alma Har’el. 2019, USA.
• Paradise Hills, Director Alice Waddington. 2019, USA.
• Seberg, Director Benedict Andrews. 2019, USA, UK.
• Swallow, Director Carlo Mirabella-Davis. 2019, USA.
World View: Works that demonstrate the diversity and vitality of contemporary international cinema from some of the globe’s most exciting filmmakers.
• Adam (Morocco), Maryam Touzani. 2019. Morocco, France.
• And Then We Danced, Director Levan Akin. 2019, Sweden, Georgia, France.
• Beanpole, Director Kantemir Balagov. 2019, Russia.
• Divine Love, Director Gabriel Mascaro. 2018, Brazil, Uruguay, Denmark, Norway.
• Flatland, Director Jenna Bass. 2019, South Africa.
• Hearts and Bones, Director Ben Lawrence. 2019, Australia.¬
• Idol, Director Lee Su-Jin. 2019, South Korea.
• Invisible Life, Director Karim Aïnouz. 2019, Brazil, Germany.
• Jallikattu, Director Lijo Jose Pellissery. 2019, India.
• Litigante, Director Franco Lolli. 2019, Colombia, France.
• Nina Wu, Director Midi Z. 2019, Taiwan, Malaysia, Myanmar.
• Papicha, Director Mounia Meddour. 2019, Algeria, France, Belgium, Qatar.
• Queen of Hearts, Director May El-Toukhy. 2019, Denmark.
• Synonyms, Director Nadav Lapid. 2019, France, Israel, Germany.
• System Crasher, Director Nora Fingscheidt. 2019, Germany.
• Temblores, Director Jayro Bustamante. 2019, Guatemala, France.
• The Unknown Saint, Director Alaa Eddine Aljem. 2019, Morocco, France, Qatar.
• We Are Little Zombies, Director Makoto Nagahisa. 2019, Japan.
• A White, White Day, Director Hlynur Pálmason. 2019, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden.
Cinema de France: Sharing a language with some of cinema’s most revered classics and legendary auteurs, these new films have that certain je ne sais quoi.
• Atlantics, Director Mati Diop. 2019, France, Senegal, Belgium.
• I Lost My Body, Director Jérémy Clapin. 2019, France.
• Les Misérables, Director Ladj Ly. 2019, France.
• Sibyl, Director Justine Triet. 2019, France, Belgium.
• You Deserve a Lover, Director Hafsia Herzi. 2019, France.
Visions of China: These films capture the complexity and dynamism of the world’s fastest growing and most populous country and its citizens.
• Leftover Women, Director Hilla Medalia, Shosh Shlam. 2019, Israel.
• So Long, My Son, Director Wang Xiaoshuai. 2019, China.
• The Wild Goose Lake, Director Diao Yinan. 2019, China, France.
Made in USA (Part of PFS on Us free ticketing program): Lo-fi gems and new indie classics that offer a fresh perspective on today’s America.
• Adam, Director Rhys Ernst. 2018, USA.
• Blow the Man Down, Director Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy. 2019, USA.
• Come As You Are, Director Richard Wong. 2019, USA. Opening Night Made in USA
• Fourteen, Director Dan Sallitt. 2019, USA.
• Lucky Grandma, Director Sasie Sealy. 2019, USA.
• The Vast of Night, Director Andrew Patterson. 2019, USA.
Non/Fiction (Part of PFS on Us free ticketing program): Compelling and provocative, these contemporary docs encourage viewers to see the world through a different lens.
• Advocate, Director Philippe Bellaïche, Rachel Leah Jones. 2019, Israel, Canada, Switzerland.
• Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator, Director Eva Orner. 2019, USA. Opening Night Non/Fiction
• Citizen K, Director Alex Gibney. 2019, USA, UK.
• Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy, Director Elizabeth Carroll. 2019, Mexico, USA.
• Plucked, Director Joel Van Haren. 2019, USA.
• Red Penguins, Director Gabe Polsky. 2019, USA.
• Sunset Over Mulholland Drive, Director Uli Gaulke. 2018, Germany.
Filmadelphia: Showcasing the most dynamic and talented voices from the greater Philadelphia area.
• Clemency, Director Chinonye Chukwu. 2019, USA.
• Colewell, Director Tom Quinn. 2019, USA.
• Maybe Next Year, Director Kyle Thrash. 2019, USA.
• The Nomads, Director Brandon Eric Kamin. 2019, USA.
• The Place of No Words, Director Mark Webber. 2019, UK, USA.
• Waldo on Weed, Director Tommy Avallone. 2019, USA.
State of the Union: Stories of some of the most significant figures and events in American politics and diplomacy, which continue to shape the future of the nation’s democracy.
• The Human Factor, Director Dror Moreh. 2019, UK, Israel.
• The Report, Director Scott Z. Burns. 2019, USA.
• Slay the Dragon, Director Chris Durrance, Barak Goodman. 2019, USA.
• The War Room, Director Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker. 1993, USA.
After Hours: Bringing together the odd, eerie, thrilling, and downright weird, this is the home of cult classics in the making.
• Bacurau, Director Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonҫa Filho. 2019, Brazil, France.
• Deerskin, Director Quentin Dupieux. 2019, France.
• Dogs Don’t Wear Pants, Director Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää. 2019, Finland, Latvia.
• The Lodge, Director Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz. 2018, USA, UK. Opening Night After Hours
• Porno, Director Keola Racela. 2019, USA.
• The Twentieth Century, Director Matthew Rankin. 2019, Canada.
• Wounds, Director Babak Anvari. 2019, USA, UK.
From the Vaults: Film classics come alive as they were meant to be seen - on the big screen!
• Audition, Director Takashi Miike. 1999, Japan.
• Blue Velvet, Director David Lynch. 1986, USA.
• Defending Your Life, Director Albert Brooks. 1991, USA.
• Magnolia, Director Paul Thomas Anderson. 1999, USA.
• Romeo and Juliet, Director Franco Zeffirelli. 1968, UK, Italy.
• The Australian Dream, Director Daniel Gordon. 2019, Australia, UK.
• Stallone: Frank, That Is, Director Derek Wayne Johnson. 2020, USA.
Shorts: This year’s most enjoyable, surprising, and memorable short films from around the world.
• Abortion Helpline: This is Lisa, Director Barbara Attie, Mike Attie, Janet Goldwater.
• All Cats Are Grey in the Dark, Director Lasse Linder.
• And Then the Bear, Director Agnès Patron.
• Aziza, Director Soudade Kaadan.
• Betty Feeds the Animals, Director James P. Gannon.
• Broken Orchestra, Director Charlie Tyrell.
• Ceremony Night, Director Behnam Abedi.
• The Coin, Director Siqi Song.
• Count Your Curses, Director Lorène Yavo
• Daughter, Director Daria Kashcheeva.
• The Distance Between Us and the Sky, Director Vasilis Kekatos.
• Docking, Director Trevor Anderson.
• Don’t You Forget About Me , Director Lydia Ricci.
• Entropia, Director Keir Politz.
• Everything You Wanted to Know About Sudden Birth* (*but were afraid to ask), Director Scott Calonico.
• Flesh, Director Camila Kater.
• Human Nature, Director Sverre Fredriksen.
• Knockstrike, Director Pau Anglada, Genis Rigol, Marc Torices.
• Little Miss Sumo, Director Matt Kay.
• Lockdown, Director Logan George, Celine Held.
• The Manila Lover, Director Johanna Pyykkö.
• Milton, Director Tim Wilkime.
• Miss Barton’s Famous Cakes, Director Jared Hirschdirector, Nelson Vicens.
• The Physics of Sorrow, Director Theodore Ushev.
• She Runs, Director Qiu Yang.
• Stay Close, Director Luther Clement, Shuhan Fan.
• Throat Singing in Kangirsuk, Director Manon Chamberland, Eva Kaukai.
• To Be Queen, Director Jeff Reichert, Farihah Zaman.
• The Water Song, Director Dave Jannetta.