Friday, October 30, 2015

24th Philadelphia Film Fest, Days 7 and 8: Gloomy Wednesday, 'Taxi' Thursday

Oy, what a wet day Wednesday was. It just seemed to rain all darn day. So what better way to lift the mood than to see a movie about teenage suicide!?

"Bridgend" was my only selection for the festival's seventh day, and it's a fictionalized account about
a real town in Wales where 79 teenagers committed suicide from 2007 to 2012. A girl named Sarah moves there with her police officer father, and the quiet, horse-rider soon falls in with a group of rambunctious teenagers who aren't total normal underneath their partying ways.

The premise is eerily intriguing: a "cult" of teenagers who one-by-one kill themselves in a secluded forest. What is so damning about this film is that instead of focusing on the teenagers, a young, quiet protagonist girl is inserted into the story and it turns into a coming-of-age bit, so much so that her father asks her "What is happening to you?", a line almost always said by a parental figure to the main character in a film like this.

Sarah's adventure with this dark group isn't anything new, and barely holds a flame to films like "Kids" and "Thirteen", it's just a way to break into the story of why are these kids committing suicide?

Like in real life, the film has no answers for it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

24th Philadelphia Film Fest, Day 4: A day of great choices

Note to self: check the public trans schedule about an hour before you plan on leaving. That would be pretty helpful.

Aside from that slight hiccup at the start of my day, the fourth day of the Philadelphia Film Festival was the best one yet. Instead of seeing four films like I wanted, I opted for three. I was just too darn tired.

The start of this eventual great day was "Remember", a film I had not heard about before. The festival program guide says it's about a guy who seeks out the Nazi who killed he and his wife's families at Auschwitz.

"Remember" features a standout turn by Christopher Plummer as the man on the cross-country hunt to kill this Nazi. He portrays the dementia-afflicted man with a delicate touch of warmth and sadness. This is a film that had everyone shocked, and if you see, you'd understand why.

Not your standard rinse and repeat Holocaust movie.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

24th Philadelphia Film Fest, Days 2 and 3: Having a 'Cannes' do attitude

This may be only the second time of sitting in theaters for hours a day watching movies, a.k.a., enduring the best of a film festival. And for me, Philadelphia's annual fest devoted to international and local cinema is the only place I do it... for now.

But the some feeling kicks in days before it starts: do I really have the energy to endure four movies a day for the first few days of the fest? In my head I say no, but by the third movie of each day my body is programmed to endure it. It also doesn't mean that I don't feel like nodding off during the third movie, either. Whoops.

So with day one of the festival off to a smashing start with "Anomalisa", I grabbed my badge and tickets (for select screenings not covered with my badge) and headed downtown for day two, Oct. 21.

Friday, October 23, 2015

24th Philadelphia Film Fest, Day 1: "Anomalisa" shines as opener!

Yay, the Philadelphia Film Festival has officially started!

After weeks since announcing the fest's lineup the anticipation can finally start to dissipate as local cinephiles can start their marathon moviewatching.

The festival's opening night activities appeared to go off without a hitch, and what a fabulous event that sounded like. The red carpet, the party, and all sorts of luxuriation that comes with it.

It started off with two screenings of "Anomalisa", the award-winning, stop-motion animation film from Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, at the Prince Theater at 6 and 8:30. There seemed to be a flood of interest for the 8:30 screening since it was announced that Kaufman and Johnson would be in person to have a Q&A segment after that showing of their film, and they would be honored with the fest's artistic achievement award. Of course there were email updates saying this screening was sold out, rush tickets were available and blah blah blah.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

'Spotlight'ing the 'Truth': Journalism in Cinema, 2015

Boston Globe/Entertainment One
Who knew 2015 would become a hit year for journalism in cinema?

It started off with the little seen Jonah Hill pic "True Story", and now two more films about the truth-seeking industry are being released in the heat of Oscar season: "Spotlight" and "Truth".

Both films take place around the same time, early- to mid-2000's, but they couldn't be anymore different. "Spotlight" is an underdog story of sorts about a group of watchdog journalists at The Boston Globe taking down the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and "Truth" is a group of television legends at CBS covering up their "errors" in a report about Pres. George W. Bush's time in the National Guard.

Neither of these holds a flame to the paramount journalism film "All the President's Men", but damn if they aren't good. And how suiting is it for Robert Redford to star as Bob Woodward in "ATPM" and now portray Dan Rather in "Truth"? Redford is definitely an iconic part of the world of journalism, and that's not even his profession.

At the core of both of these films is the hunt for facts, the hallmark of journalism.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Charlie Kaufman, Todd Haynes to appear at Philly Film Fest

Organizers of the 24th Philadelphia Film Festival announced Thursday that Charlie Kaufman and 30 other special guests will be in attendance for certain screenings during the duration of the 11-day festival.

Following the 8:30 screening of their festival-opening film "Anomalisa" at the Prince Theater, directors Kaufman and Duke Johnson will participate in a Q&A following the screening, and will be feted with the festival's artistic achievement award: Kaufman for his "incredibly imaginative writing" and Johnson for his work in animation that culminated in "the revolutionary stop-motion animated work of art 'Anomalisa'".

The festival also announced a Charlie Kaufman Retrospective section has been added to the festival line-up at the Prince Theater, which will showcase all of his titles: "Adaptation"; "Being John Malkovich"; "Confesstions of a Dangerous Mind"; "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"; "Human Nature"; and "Synecdoche, New York".

The retrospective has not yet been scheduled.

In addition to previously announced guest Michael Moore during the closing night showing of his latest film "Where to Invade Next"at the Prince Theater, director Todd Haynes ("Carol") is scheduled to appear, as is Gaspar Noé ("Love", "Irreversible"), actress Zoë Bell ("Camino") and Jamie Kennedy ("Scream").

Below is the full line-up of guests scheduled to attend. All information is subject to change.

Patricia Riggen, Director, The 33
Charlie Kaufman, Director, Anomalisa
Duke Johnson, Director, Anomalisa
Kevin Kerslake, Director, As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM
Brian Klugman, DirectorBaby Baby Baby
David April, Subject, Beer Runners
Justin Wirtalla, Director, Beer Runners
Erik Shirai, Director, The Birth of Sake
Josh C. Waller, Director, Camino
Zoë Bell, Actor, Camino
Todd Haynes, Director, Carol
Rick Alverson, Director, Entertainment
Alison Bagnall, Director, Funny Bunny
Tara Culp, Producer, Funny Bunny
Greg Koh, Director, The Great Alone
Lynn True, Director, In Transit
Erika Frankel, Director, King Georges
Georges Perrier, Subject, King Georges
Jeffrey Loeb, Producer, A Light Beneath Their Feet
Gaspar NoéDirector, Love
Jessica Edwards, Director, Mavis!
Jay Dockendorf, Director, Naz and Maalik
Noah Pritzker, Director, Quitters
Ben Hickernell, Director, A Rising Tide
Jamie Kennedy, Actor, Scream
David Felix Sutcliffe, Director(T)error
Christopher K. Walker, Director, Welcome to Leith
Marilyn Cohen, Executive Producer, When Voices Meet
Sharon Katz, Subject, When Voices Meet
Nonhlanhla Wanda, Subject, When Voices Meet
Michael Moore, Director, Where to Invade Next

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Philadelphia Film Festival ready to kick off 24th year

From Oct. 22 to Nov. 1, lovers of film are expected to see something  at the 24th Philadelphia Film Festival  (PFF) the promotional materials says they’ll “never forget”, and with over 130 different feature and short film options to choose from, that statement couldn’t be more true.

Starting with the opening night film, Charlie Kauffman’s award-winning stop-motion feature “Anomalisa”, to Michael Moore’s latest documentary feature “Where to Invade Next” capping off the 11-day fest, the festival will include the best, and, perhaps, divisive, works of cinema from around the globe in a crowded assembly where internationally renowned directors share the spotlight with Philadelphia-based talent as they tell stories that break out beyond conventional boundaries.

“This year is probably the strongest year since I’ve been working there,” said the festival’s artistic director Michael Lerman. “It was interesting because while I was putting it together it was unclear looking at bits and pieces how it was going to turn out, and then it all seemed to come together at the last minute.”

Friday, October 2, 2015

Over 130 Films Slated for 24th Philly Film Festival

The Philadelphia Film Society is proud to announce the full film line-up of the 24th Philadelphia Film Festival, spanning from October 22 – November 1 on 6 theater screens throughout the Greater Philadelphia area.

Opening on October 22nd with Anomalisa and closing on October 30 with Where to Invade Next, the 11-day Philadelphia Film Festival will locally premiere over 130 feature length and short films, curated by our programming committee that travels to festivals around the world, all year long, to officially select each film in the program. 

“I’m thrilled with this year’s fantastic line-up of films, bringing so many incredible features and shorts from around the world to Philadelphia for our 24th edition,” said Executive Director J. Andrew Greenblatt.  “From our Opening Night screening of the Venice Grand Prize winner Anomalisa to the Closing Night screening of master documentarian Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next, this year’s slate is not only incredibly strong and diverse, but fully represents what a film festival truly is: the gathering of a community of film lovers experiencing some of the most exciting, challenging, innovative, prestigious and thought-provoking films of the year, with many of the artists behind these films in attendance.”

"It’s bursting at the seams!” said Michael Lerman, Artistic Director.  "With our biggest program in several years, we’re very lucky to be showcasing a collection of work that is overstuffed with gems, featuring over twenty works from world renowned directors (including our bold and fantastic opening and closing night selections) along with plenty of great surprises from first timers."

The Philadelphia Film Society is honored that Michael Moore, the Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author behind Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine, will be joining  the #PFF24 Closing Night Celebration at the Prince Theater.

The full Festival schedule and digital Festival Program Guide is available now on 

Screenings for the 24th Philadelphia Film Festival will take place at the Ritz East (125 S. 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106), Ritz at the Bourse (400 Ranstead St, Philadelphia, PA 19106), PFS Roxy Theater (2023 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103), and Prince Theater (1412 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19102). Tickets will go on-sale for Philadelphia Film Society members on Friday, October 2, and to the general public beginning Monday, October 5.  Tickets may be purchased through the Festival website,, or in-person at the Main Box Office at the Prince Theater (open Monday – Saturday from 12 noon to 5:00 pm).
24th Philadelphia Film Festival Full Line-up

Opening Night Film
·         Anomalisa, Director Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson. 2015, USA.

Closing Night Film
·         Where To Invade Next, Director Michael Moore. 2015, USA.

Centerpiece Screenings
·         Brooklyn, Director John Crowley. 2015, Ireland, UK.
·         Carol, Director Todd Haynes. 2015, USA, UK.
·         Our Brand Is Crisis, Director David Gordon Green. 2015, USA.
·         Room, Director Lenny Abrahamson. 2015, Ireland, Canada.
·         A Royal Night Out, Director Julian Jarrold. 2015, UK.
·         Youth, Director Paolo Sorrentino. 2015, Italy.

From the Vaults: Film history comes alive as it was meant to be seen - on the big screen. Come see old favorites bigger than life once again.
·         Life of Brian, Director Terry Jones.  1979, UK.
·         The Memory of Justice, Director Marcel Ophuls.  1976, UK, USA, Germany.
·         My Sex Life…or How I Got Into An Argument, Director Arnaud Desplechin.  1996, France.
·         Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, Director Eric Zala. 1989, USA.

A Very Scary Sleepover: Wes Craven’s Halloween Nightmare
·         Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Director Rachel Talalay. 1991, USA.
·         The Hills Have Eyes, Director Wes Craven. 1977, USA.
·         The Last House on the Left, Director Wes Craven. 1972, USA.
·         New Nightmare, Director Wes Craven. 1994, USA.
·         A Nightmare on Elm Street 2Freddy’s Revenge, Director Jack Sholder. 1985, USA.
·         A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Director Chuck Russell. 1987, USA.
·         A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Director Renny Harlin. 1988, USA.
·         A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Director Stephen Hopkins. 1989, USA.
·         A Nightmare on Elm Street, Director Wes Craven. 1984, USA.
·         The People Under the Stairs, Director Wes Craven. 1991, USA.
·         Scream, Director Wes Craven. 1996, USA.

Spotlights, Presented by Philadelphia Magazine: Highly–anticipated movies from some of the biggest names in the industry, these films shine a spotlight on top talent from around the world.
·         The 33, Director Patricia Riggen. 2015, Chile, Columbia.
·         Camino, Director Josh C. Waller. 2015, USA.
·         James White, Director Josh Mond. 2015, USA.
·         Legend, Director Brian Helgeland. 2015, UK.
·         The Lobster, Director Yorgos Lanthimos. 2015, Ireland, UK.
·         Macbeth, Director Justin Kurzel. 2015, UK.
·         Man Up, Director Ben Palmer. 2015, UK.
·         Monty Python’s The Meaning of Live, Director Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam. 2015, UK
·         The Program, Director Stephen Frears. 2015, UK.
·         Remember, Director Atom Egoyan. 2015, Canada, Germany.

Masters of Cinema, Presented by Comcast: These new films exemplify the masterful work of world-renowned filmmakers as they continue to thrill and inspire audiences with cutting-edge features.
·         The Club, Director Pablo Larrain. 2015, Chile.
·         Dheepan, Director Jacques Audiard. 2015, France.
·         In the Shadow of Women, Director Philippe Garrel. 2015, France.
·         In Transit, Directors Albert Maysles, Lynn True, Nelson Walker, Ben Wu, David Usui. 2015, USA.
·         Love, Director Gaspar Noe. 2015, France.
·         Mia Madre, Director Nanni Moretti. 2015, Italy, France.
·         Mountains May Depart, Director Jia Zhang-Ke. 2015, China, Japan, France.
·         My Golden Days, Director Arnaud Desplechin. 2015, France.
·         The Pearl Button, Director Patricio Guzman. 2015, Chile, France, Spain.
·         Sunset Song, Director Terence Davies. 2015, UK, Luxembourg.
·         Tale of Tales, Director Matteo Garrone. 2015, Italy, France, UK.
·         Taxi, Director Jafar Panahi. 2015, Iran.
·         The Treasure, Director Corneliu Porumboiu. 2015, Romania, France.
·         The White Knights, Director Joachim Lafosse. 2015, France, Belgium.

World Narratives, Presented by 6ABC: Explore the world through film with this diverse selection of international cinema that features distinct perspectives and images from around the globe.
·         45 Years, Director Andrew Haigh. 2015, UK.
·         Body, Director Malgorzata Szumowska. 2015, Poland.
·         The Boy and the Beast, Director Mamoru Hosoda. 2015, Japan.
·         Bridgend, Director Jeppe Ronde. 2015, Denmark.
·         Chasuke’s Journey, Director Sabu. 2015, Japan.
·         Guilty, Director Meghna Gulzar. 2015, India.
·         Hedi Schneider Is Stuck, Director Sonja Heiss. 2015, USA, France.
·         The High Sun,  Director Dalibor Matanic. 2015, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia.
·         Homesick, Director Anne Sewitsky. 2015, Norway.
·         Just Jim, Director Craig Roberts. 2015, UK.
·         Kilo Two Bravo, Director Paul Katis. 2015, UK.
·         Mediterranea, Director Jonas Carpignano. 2015, Italy.
·         Men & Chicken, Director Anders Thomas Jensen. 2015, Denmark.
·         Much Loved, Director Nabil Ayouch. 2015, France, Morocco.
·         Mustang, Director Deniz Gamze Erguven. 2015, France, Germany, Turkey, Qatar.
·         Rams, Director Grimur Hakonarson. 2015, Iceland.
·         The Survivalist, Director Stephen Fingelton. 2015, UK, Northern Ireland.
·         Umrika, Director Prashant Nair. 2015, India.
·         Victoria, Director Sebastian Schipper. 2015, Germany.
·         The Wave, Director Roar Uthaug. 2015, Norway.

New French Films, Presented by TV5Monde: The birthplace of cinema, France continues to produce some of the best movies in the world with films that are funny, daring, sexy and uniquely French.
·         Disorder, Director Alice Winocour. 2015, France.
·         Evolution, Director Lucile Hadžihalilović. 2015, France.
·         Fatima, Director Philippe Faucon. 2015, France.
·         I Am a Soldier, Director Laurent Lariviere. 2015, France.
·         Learn By Heart, Director Mathieu Vadepied. 2015, France.

Spanish Language Stories, Presented by Southwest Airlines: Offering gripping stories and unique perspectives, these Spanish-language films explore a multitude of subjects ranging from the culturally specific to the universal.
·         600 Miles, Director Gabriel Ripstein. 2015, Mexico.
·         El Cinco, Director Adrian Biniez. 2014, Argentina.
·         Embrace of the Serpent, Director Ciro Guerra. 2015, Columbia, Venezuela, Argentina.
·         Ixcanul Volcano, Director Jayro Bustamante. 2015, Guatemala, France
·         Magallanes, Director Salvador del Solar. 2015, Peru, Argentina, Columbia, Spain.
·         Viaje, Director Paz Fabrega. 2015, Costa Rica.

Feast: A delightful tasting menu highlighting contemporary culinary stories from around the globe.
·         An, Director Naomi Kawase. 2015, Japan, France, Germany.
·         Beer Runners, Director Justin Wirtalla. 2014, USA, Spain.
·         The Birth of Sake, Director Erik Shirai. 2015, USA.
·         King Georges, Director Erika Frankel. 2015, USA.

American Independents, Presented by Park Towne Place: Featuring powerful new voices in American cinema, these fresh, gritty films explore a variety of subjects through the filmmaker’s uncompromising vision. All films in this series are a part of the “PFF On Us” free ticketing program.
·         Emelie, Director Michael Thelin. 2015, USA
·         Entertainment, Director Rick Alverson. 2015, USA.
·         Krisha, Director Trey Edward Shults. 2015, USA.
·         Lamb, Director Ross Partridge. 2015, USA.
·         Naz and Maalik, Director Jay Dockendorf. 2014, USA.
·         Quitters, Director Noah Pritzker. 2014, USA.
·         Take Me to the River, Director Matt Sobel. 2015, USA.

Greater Filmadelphia, Presented by Philadelphia Gas Works: Featuring work from some of our finest homegrown filmmakers, this category brings our city and its talent to the big screen.
·         Baby Baby Baby, Director Brian Klugman. 2015, USA
·         The Benefactor, Director Andrew Renzi. 2015, USA.
·         Funny Bunny, Director Alison Bagnall. 2015, USA.
·         A Light Beneath Their Feet, Director Valerie Weiss. 2015, USA.
·         The Prince of Pennsylvania, Director Jesse Vile. 2015, USA, UK.
·         A Rising Tide, Director Ben Hickernell. 2015, USA.
·         When Voices Meet, Director Nancy Sutton Smith. 2015, South Africa, USA.

Documentary Showcase, Presented with support by the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation: Comprising the best in documentary filmmaking, these compelling films feature everything from stirring character studies to fascinating looks at current global issues.
·         The Great Alone, Director Greg Kohs. 2014, USA.
·         Palio, Director Cosima Spender. 2015, UK, Italy.
·         Peggy Guggenheim – Art Addict, Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland. 2015, USA.
·         Raiders!, Directors Jeremy Coon, Tim Skousen. 2015, USA.
·         Sherpa, Director Jennifer Peedom. 2015, Australia, UK.
·         (T)error, Directors Lyric R. Cabral, David Felix Sutcliffe. 2015, USA.
·         Welcome to Leith, Directors Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walter. 2015, USA.

Sight and Soundtrack, Presented by KYW1060: Featuring rockumentaries, musician biopics and films that are centered on the unifying power of music.
·         As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM, Director Kevin Kerslake. 2015, USA.
·         Breaking a Monster, Director Luke Meyer. 2015, USA.
·         Free Entry, Director Yvonne Kerékgyártó. 2014, Hungary.
·         Hot Sugar’s Cold World, Director Adam Bhala Lough. 2015, USA, France.
·         Mavis!, Director Jessica Edwards. 2015, USA.

The Graveyard Shift: Horror, action, suspense, and the downright weird, these films will keep you awake during the graveyard shift.
·         Baskin, Director Can Evrenol. 2015, Turkey.
·         Demon, Director Marcin Wrona. 2015, Poland, Israel.
·         The Hallow, Director Colin Hardy. 2014, Ireland, UK.
·         The Invitation, Director Karyn Kusama. 2015, USA.
·         SPL 2 – A Time for Consequences, Director Soi Cheang. 2015, Hong Kong.

Short Films
·         Bacon & God’s Wrath, Director Sol Friendman. 2015, Canada.
·         Body Team 12, Director David Darg. 2015, USA.
·         Copycat, Director Charlie Lyne. 2015, UK.
·         The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul, Director Kitty Green. 2014, Australia.
·         The Little Deputy, Director Trevor Anderson. 2015, Canada.
·         Manoman, Director Simon Cartwright. 2015, UK.
·         The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano, Director Joshua Seftel. 2015, USA.
·         {The And}  Marcela & Rock, Director Topaz Adizes. 2015, USA.
·         Myrna the Monster, Director Ian Samuels. 2014, USA.
·         Object, Director Paulina Skibińska. 2015, Poland.
·         Palm Rot, Director Ryan Gillis. 2015, USA.
·         Pink Grapefruit, Director Michael Mohan. 2015, USA.
·         Pop-Up Porno: m4m, Director Stephen Dunn. 2015, Canada.
·         Storm Hits Jacket, Director Paul Cabon. 2014, France.
·         The Sun Like a Big Dark Animal, Directors Chris Felisgrau, Ronnie Rivera. 2015, USA.
·         Superior, Director Erin Vassilopoulos. 2015, USA.
·         Tatuape Mahal Tower, Directors Carolina Markowicz, Fernanda Salloum. 2014, Brazil.
·         Teeth, Directors Tom Brown, Daniel Gray. 2015, USA, Hungary, UK.
·         Tose: The Movie, Director Mike Tollin. 2015, USA.
·         Two Films About Loneliness, Directors William Bishop-Stephens, Christopher Eales. 2014, UK.
·         World of Tomorrow, Director Don Hertzfeldt. 2015, USA.

Thanks to generous support provided by the Wyncote Foundation, the Festival continues the “PFF On Us” free ticketing program, providing complimentary tickets to all films in the American Independents and Documentary film categories. Tickets are available to the public, as well as in partnership with select organizations. PFF On Us also hosts weekday morning student screenings, presented in part by Peco and featuring the films Raiders!,Breaking A MonsterLearning By Heart and Umrika. To register for free tickets, visit