7 Local Movies at the Philadelphia Film Festival
Philly film lovers and fans — it’s just about that time of year again. The 24th annual Philadelphia Film Festival begins October 22nd and runs through November 1st. The festival begins with Anomalisa, from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and ends with Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next. Classics like Monty Python and Raiders of the Lost Ark, French and Spanish language films, and documentaries are among the hundreds being screened in between. (Here are some of our top picks.)
One collection of flicks we’re particularly excited about is a series called “Greater Filmadelphia,” which will showcase the city’s own filmmaking talent and stories. Here’s what you’ll find among them, listed in alphabetical order. (Click on the films’ names for screening info.)
Many of us know the feeling of meeting that special someone, only to be plagued by the reruns of every previous failed relationship and insecurity. Philly director Brian Klugman explores what happens when a lover’s jealousy creeps up in this romantic comedy that he also stars in. Aspiring short-story writer and daydreamer Sydney (Klugman) makes an unexpected connection with a painter and bartender named Sunny, played by Adrianne Palicki. But will his anxieties threaten their relationship when she gets the big opportunity to showcase her work in a gallery? Stars Kelsey Grammer and William Shatner are featured in the film, as well as appearances from Jessica Alba and Jenkintown’s Bradley Cooper.
Francis “Franny” L. Watts, is changed forever when he loses his two closest friends in a car accident, retreating into solitude and the addictive comforts of morphine. But when his friends’ daughter Olivia and her husband Luke make the decision to return to Philadelphia, Watts finds meaning in showering the couple with gifts and lots of attention. This kindness however, has a manipulative end, as Franny attempts to impose his own vision for the couple’s life together. Philadelphia’s Andrew Renzi directs actors Phlly-born actor Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning and Theo James in this tale of loss and control.
Gene (Kentucker Audley) is still living with his ex-wife, and determined to help fight child obesity with a door-to-door campaign — but without much luck. He then meets Titty (Olly Alexander, pictured), a wealthy Main Liner whose romantic life does not exist much beyond the Internet. With Gene’s help, they embark on a quest to meet Ginger (Joslyn Jensen), an alluring animal activist who Titty has a budding online relationship with. As it so happens, Ginger has her own set of eccentricities, and the pair find themselves more and more intrigued in Philadelphia director Alison Bagnall’s film.
We don’t often expect to become our parents’ guardians until we’ve had a life of our own. However, aside from the usual growing pains of teenhood, high-schooler Beth has a lot on her shoulders. After her parents separate, she must take care of her mother, who suffers from bipolar disorder. With her mom now working at her school cafeteria, the temptation of the classroom bad boy, and the looming decisions of going off to her dream college, Beth must decide where the line between caring for her parent and her own well-being lies in Philadelphia director Valerie Weiss’s new film. Madison Davenport and Orange is the New Black actress Taryn Manning star as Beth and her mother.
Director Jesse Vile recalls being fascinated by the local tragedy of 1996, when eccentric billionaire John du Pont built the best wrestling and training facility money could buy only to shoot and kill his prized trainee, Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz, on Foxcatcher Farm, du Pont’s estate outside of Philadelphia. The story recently retold in Foxcatcher starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. In this documentary, Vile makes use of previously unseen archival footage, telling the story of a passionate but deeply troubled man, who lived vicariously through athletes like Schultz and his brother Mark.
Director Ben Hickernell brings us back three years, when we were at nature’s mercy. In A Rising Tide, New York City dreams don’t come true for Sam (Hunter Parrish), a chef who returns begrudgingly to work at his family’s Atlantic City restaurant after failing to establish himself in the Big Apple. When Hurricane Sandy hits New Jersey and floods the restaurant, Sam’s father blames him for the very costly damage. After meeting a rich investor and befriending Sarah (Ashley Hinshaw), an aspiring fashion designer, Sam must find strength despite financial hardship when the family loses their business.
In times of great friction, music can speak. After Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, music therapist Sharon Katz and singer and teacher Nonhlanhla Wanda joined forces to create the Peace Train, a choir of 500 multiracial children that toured for seven years across an apartheid-ridden South Africa to promote hope, peace and democracy. Directed by Philly’s Nancy Sutton Smith, this film reunites the group 20 years later to explore their impact on a divided nation.
Tickets and full film schedules at the Philadelphia Film Festival, which runs October 22nd to November 1st, can be found right here.