10 Little-Known Gems of the 22nd Philadelphia Film Festival

Clockwise from top left: 'One Chance,' 'Coherence,' 'Blue Ruin' and 'Mother of George' (Photos: PFF)

The 22nd Philadelphia Film Festival kicks off 11 days of incredible filmmaking this Thursday, October 17.

And while high-profile, star-studded films, such as Robert Redford’s opening night drama “All Is Lost,” are already grabbing headlines, the festival features more than 100 films from 35 countries that are equally worthy of a packed house.

“I think that’s what we’ve been building towards,” said festival Executive Director Andrew Greenblatt. “These incredible programs that feature a great mixture of some of the most anticipated films of the fall, some of the ones that will go on to win awards, as opposed to some of these obscure one. If you don’t see them here, you probably won’t have the opportunity to see them – at least not in the movie theater.”

He continued, “This is our opportunity to help focus people’s attention on some of what we think is the best cinema from around the world this year.”

From documentaries to world narratives to American independents and beyond, Greenblatt sat down with me to explain his 10 picks for the must-see, but little-known, movies screening at this year’s Philadelphia Film Festival.



Screenings: Saturday, October 19 at 7:45 p.m. (Ritz East) and Tuesday, October 22 at 7:00 p.m. (Cinemark)

This film follows a couple who embarks on a cross-country road trip to visit locations featured in some of their favorite films. “Blue Highway” star Kerry Bishe, best known for her recent role in “Argo,” will be in attendance to receive the festival’s Rising Star Award.



Screenings: Friday, October 18 at 7:20 p.m. (Cinemark) and Sunday, October 20 at 9:30 p.m. (Ritz East)

“It’s kind of a twist on an American revenge thriller,” Greenblatt said. “It’s really methodical, never slow, if that makes sense. The plot moves, but it’s deliberate. It’s so well done, and we have both the director [Jeremy Saulnier] and the star coming in for it. So, I would certainly recommend that.”



Screenings: Monday, October 21 at 9:45 p.m. (Ritz East) and Wednesday, October 23 at 4:45 p.m. (Ritz at the Bourse)

“This is a film I saw back in Cannes,” Greenblatt explained. “It premiered, had its press screening at 8 a.m. in the morning, and then anyone you walked up to that day was like, ‘Did you see “Borgman”? Have you seen “Borgman”?’ So I went and saw ‘Borgman.’ It’s this twisted, dark, home invasion comedy. It’s incredibly strange, but it’s also really original and engaging and you don’t know where it’s going and you wanna see where it goes.”



Screenings: Saturday, October 19 at 4:30 p.m. (Ritz at the Bourse) and Sunday, October 27 at 2:30 p.m. (Ritz East)

“You get this real intimate view of the political process by following all the Republican candidates prior to the Iowa caucus at the last election,” Greenblatt told me. “It’s really fantastic. And there’s a ton of [Rick] Santorum in it, because that’s where he got his big rise. He was dead in the water, and then all of a sudden he comes in second or third in the caucus, and suddenly he’s the challenger to Romney.”



Screenings: Tuesday, October 22 at 5:00 p.m. and Thursday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. (both Cinemark)

“This is a little indie, sci-fi film that feels, on its surface, like ‘Another Earth,’ but it doesn’t have the big Fox Searchlight marketing push,” Greenblatt said. “It’s like what ‘Another Earth’ was when it premiered in Sundance, before it got that big marketing push behind it. And I really love the film. It’s really, really well done, and I’m shocked someone hasn’t bought it yet. It’s something people should go see.”



Screenings: Friday, October 25 at 12:20 p.m. (Ritz East) and Saturday, October 26 at 5:00 p.m. (Ritz at the Bourse)

“It’s an intimate family feature that’s really well made,” Greenblatt started. “It’s about this father who’s a questionably good father. He’s supposed to go on a road trip with his kids, taking them to one place, and then he has to go visit his parents instead because his mother dies. And then he has to settle the family. It’s well done and it’s captivating.”



Screenings: Monday, October 21 at 2:30 p.m. and Friday, October 25 at 7:00 p.m. (both Ritz at the Bourse)

Greenblatt recommends this “big Sundance film,” which follows a fictional Nigerian-American woman as she struggles to balance her life in New York with Nigerian tradition. “It’s a really great film that I think people will enjoy,” he said.


8. “OMAR”

Screenings: Wednesday, October 23 at 7:30 p.m. (Cinemark) and Thursday, October 24 at 12:00 p.m. (Ritz East)

“‘Omar’ is a powerful film from Palestinian territory, and it’s a look at that Palestinian-Israeli conflict from that side of it, which is something you don’t see as often.” Greenblatt told me. “It’s a really interesting look. It’s a heavy film, don’t get me wrong, but everywhere it’s been, it’s gotten rave reviews.”

Note: “Omar” is replacing the movie “Documented,” which will no longer be playing at the festival.



Screening: Tuesday, October 22 at 6:30 p.m. (Prince Music Theater)

“It’s about the winner of ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’ Paul Potts, the opera singer,” Greenblatt said. “It’s a great, feel-good movie that everyone seems to enjoy, and we’ve got the director [David Frankel] coming in for it.”



Screenings: Wednesday, October 23 at 12:30 p.m. and Friday, October 25 at 7:00 p.m. (both Ritz East)

“This is a really powerful, important documentary,” Greenblatt explained. “We showed a short called ‘Remote Area Medical’ last year, and this is the feature version. It’s about bringing medical services to places in this country that are uninsured. It’s really great.”


XFINITY is an official sponsor of the 22nd Philadelphia Film Festival. For a full lineup of films, as well as venue and ticket information, visit Filmadelphia.org.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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