The annual Philadelphia Film Festival, which gives area cineastes a chance to get an early jump on the year’s prestige motion pictures, gets underway Oct. 18, with opening film “Just Mercy,” and continues through Sunday, Oct. 27, with director Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” serving as the closing film.
In between, the festival will feature more than 100 films, including special programs of movies from France and China, categories of local films and documentaries and even a program of vintage classics like “Blue Velvet,” “Magnolia,” “Defending Your Life” and the J-horror touchstone “Audition.”
The full program can be found here, along with information on how to buy tickets. Here’s a look at the 10 films at this year’s festival that we’re anticipating the most.
“Parasite” (Oct. 17, 6 p.m., Philadelphia Film Center) The latest film from South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in May. “Parasite” introduces us to the relationship between two very different families. The word from the film’s director (who also made “Snowpiercer”) is to know as little as possible about it going in.
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (Oct. 19 at 3 p.m, Oct. 26 at 3 p.m., both at Ritz East) This French film from director Celine Sciamma tells the story of an 18th-century same-sex affair between an artist (Noemie Merlant) and the woman she paints (Adele Haenel). This one also won an award at Cannes.
“Jojo Rabbit” (Oct. 19, 6 p.m., Philadelphia Film Center) The latest film from “Thor: Ragnorok” director Taika Waititi has one of the most outrageous premises of any film this year: A boy growing up in Nazi Germany whose imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler (played by the director himself) slowly becomes disillusioned with the Nazi state when he meets a young Jewish woman (Thomasin McKenzie). The film, as you may have guessed, has had a mixed reception thus far.
“Swallow” (Oct. 20 at 8 p.m., Oct. 21 at 12:45 p.m., both at Ritz Five) Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ debut film is about a young upper-class woman (Haley Bennett) who develops a taste for inanimate objects while feuding with her husband (Austin Stowell) and mother-in-law (Elizabeth Marvel).
“Maybe Next Year” (Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. at Philadelphia Film Center, Oct. 26 at 9:30 p.m. at Ritz East) This documentary by Kyle Thrash is premiering at the festival and follows fans of the Philadelphia Eagles as the team made their championship run during the 2017 season. The documentary follows several fans, one of whom is the notorious YouTuber Eatdatpussy445, and it wrestles with the question of whether all those stories about Philly sports fans are true.
“Marriage Story” (Oct. 20, 8 p.m., Philadelphia Film Center) Director Noah Baumbach made a movie in 2005 called “The Squid and the Whale,” which told a fictionalized version of his parents’ divorce. Now, he’s made another movie about divorce — this time, presumably, about his own from Jennifer Jason Leigh. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson play the splitting couple in a film that drew near-universal praise on the festival circuit. It heads to Netflix next month.
“The Irishman” (Oct. 22, 8:15 p.m., Philadelphia Film Center) Director Martin Scorsese’s latest gangster epic, starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, is based on the controversial memoir by Pennsylvania mob hanger-on Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran. It touches on decades of the mob and political history, some of it in Philadelphia, and its three-hour-plus running time means it’ll run until nearly midnight.
“Waldo on Weed” (Oct. 22, 8:30 p.m. and Oct. 27 at 12:00 p.m., both at Ritz East) The latest film from South Jersey native filmmaker Tommy Avallone, “Waldo on Weed” is about Brian Dwyer, the founder of Fishtown’s Pizza Brain, and his quest to obtain cannabis oil for his cancer-stricken young son.
“Motherless Brooklyn” (Oct. 24, 8:30 p.m., Philadelphia Film Center) Edward Norton’s first film as director since “Keeping the Faith” 19 years ago is a noir adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s novel, starring Norton as a private eye with Tourette’s Syndrome. The film boasts a cast that includes Bruce Willis, Bobby Cannavale, Alec Baldwin and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
“Knives Out” (Oct. 25, 6:45 p.m., Philadelphia Film Center) The latest film from Rian Johnson, the director of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” is a whodunit that stars the likes of Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon and Toni Collette. The film’s advance buzz is strong, and Johnson will be on hand at the festival to introduce the movie.
Johnson isn’t the only creator of note who’s set to appear at the festival. The Sixers’ Ben Simmons will be there to introduce “The Australian Dream,” a film that he executive-produced. Also appearing? You guessed it, Frank Stallone, who will host a screener of a documentary about his life, “Stallone: Frank That Is.”