I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since the Philadelphia Film Festival! I was fortunate to be able to attend again this year. A fully In-Person event from Oct 19-Oct 30. Once again, it was a stellar program. Not a lot of filmmakers in attendance, though many of the Philly filmmakers were there for Q&A’s. Sadly, I worked 50 hours both weeks so there wasn’t nearly enough time for film screenings! I picked 15 and made it to 8 films. All of the screenings were enjoyable, a few weren’t my cup of tea…and one Hollywood hit was very fun.
Opening Night Film was “The Banshees of Innisherin”. I wrote about it last week in a prior post. I was expecting a film similar to “In Bruges” as it featured the same two stars: Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. It was an odd film with a gorgeous setting. The Opening Night party was odd as well; it was food on a table in the theater lobby. Perhaps there was more to offer but it was a work night, and I don’t live in Philly, so off I went on my 45-minute drive home.
There were three venues this year for the Philly Film Fest: The Bourse with its steep stairs and awkward seats (at least for someone tall), The Philadelphia Film Center (the newest and largest screen with a big lobby and even–a bar), and the newly acquired Ritz East (now dubbed PFS East). I spent most of my time at the Film Center as that’s where the more high-profile films screened in the evenings. It wasn’t till the last day that I made it over to the PFS East in Old City. Nice comfy seats and a big screen in the theater I was in. It was a little difficult to find the entrance as the signage makes it look like you enter through the parking garage…but once you get past the main building, there was plenty of signage down the alleyway.
There in the Sansome Passageway, was the PFS Film Lounge. Once an Asian restaurant, there were beverages available, bathrooms and a lovely area to sit and discuss film screenings. I was sad to not have been able to take advantage of the space. If I’d had more films at PFS East, I certainly would’ve made a point to spend time there. I enjoyed the Dock Street beers I had during the festival: a delicious Porter at the Film Center and this tasty Docktoberfest at the Lounge.
Many of the films offered at the festival were slated to open in the coming weeks. I was sad to miss the “Till” screening as the director was on hand for the Q&A. I did make it to the Centerpiece screening of “The Glass Onion” with director Rian Johnson there for a lively discussion. He was clearly a crowd-favorite, especially after his “Go Phillies” comment and his promise to update the audience on the baseball score.
When you have to pay for parking and are coming from outside Philly like I was, it can be difficult to find time for a bite to eat. The Philly Film Center is in Center City and there are a few food trucks and coffee shops but mostly it’s expensive restaurants. Popcorn and beer was my dinner a few nights. Tasty but not very healthy. It would be nice if there were some healthy options at the concession stand. The screening times were tough to make for someone working: lots of 5, 5:15, 5:30 screenings that are impossible to get to even if you work in the City. There wasn’t time to get to other theaters if you had back-to-back screenings unless you took an Uber or Lyft. The majority of films I saw at the Film Center did not start on time.
I was lucky to have seen a few of the films in the program at the Telluride Film Festival so I didn’t stay to re-watch “Tar” or try to squeeze in “Women Talking” or “Empire of Light”. However, the list of guests in attendance wasn’t released till Opening Night so it made it difficult to plan what to see. Overall, there seemed to be a few missed opportunities for the festival. Perhaps due to the small staff and new staff starting as the festival was gearing up? There wasn’t a printed program save the mini-guide. Members who attended preview night did get a welcome print out of the schedule. The address for PFS East wasn’t listed online on the Festival website. There were daily update emails which helped but unless I’d taken the whole two weeks off, I couldn’t see many of the films. Screenings were scheduled starting at noon on the weekdays.
I wish I could’ve focused on the Philadelphia-centric films, the shorts, the local premieres…but I was happy to see the 8 films I did get to see. I’ll give a brief review of each in my next post. Here’s the films I saw: Banshees of Innisherin, EO, Glass Onion, Decision to Leave, The Whale, She Said, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, and Oink.