Staff Picks for the 26th Philadelphia Film Festival

Staff - October 19, 2017

The 26th Philadelphia Film Festival is finally upon us, and it’s not too late to pick up tickets for some of the year’s biggest awards contenders. Check out The Moviegoer’s picks for some of our most anticipated films, and check back for more coverage of the festival.

I, Tonya

Opening the festival is I, Tonya, a dark comedy based on the true tale of two rivals in American figure skating. The film stars Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding, an Olympic figure skater most well known for her botched attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan in an attempt to eliminate her from the competition. I, Tonya debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival this year to rave reviews, for the film's ability to humanize one of the sport’s most infamous athletes.

Showtimes: October 19, 6:00 and 8:45pm

The Florida Project

Director Sean Baker turns his vibrant, endlessly empathetic lens to the impoverished residents of The Magic Castle, an extended stay motel for those too poor to find permanent housing in the outskirts of Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Where this story of poverty and life on the margins should be depressing, Baker and his talented cast in The Florida Project find joy in discovering the small details of life. Anchored by a stellar supporting performance by Willem Dafoe as the motel’s long-suffering manager, and strong performances from non-professional actors Bria Vinaite and six year-old Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project is one of the best films of the year. Director Sean Baker is also scheduled to attend the screening.

Showtimes: October 21, 7:50pm

Lady Bird

Coming-of-age stories are classics, but what about "letting-go stories"? The directorial debut by Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated actress Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird follows a high school senior named Christine, who nicknames herself “Lady Bird” and attempts attempts to define herself through new activities like acting, romance, and applying to colleges far away from her family. Debuting to almost universal praise for Gerwig’s directing and Saoirse Ronan's performance as "Lady Bird", the film is a unique depiction of a mother-daughter relationship.

Showtimes: October 22, 7:45pm

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

After being roped and sexual assaulted by a gang, our titular character embarks on a revenge mission throughout rural Indonesia, filled with a strong cast of female characters she meets along the way. This feminist Western unique twist on the classic genre trope of a damaged woman, while addressing a serious and often grave subject with humor.

Showtimes: October 21, 9:00pm; October 27, 12:10pm

The Square

The Square stars Elisabeth Moss and Claes Bang in a Swedish satire the follows a PR agency’s attempt to publicize a bizarre public art piece entitled The Square. A comedic drama, The Square takes a scathing look at the surreal and egotistical contemporary art world.

Showtimes: October 22, 4:45pm; October 26, 6:50pm

Brimstone and Glory

Directed by Viktor Jakovleski, this documentary explores a small Mexican town just north of Mexico City dedicated to the creation of fireworks and known for its annual fireworks festival. The film was one of the most discussed documentaries from this year’s Hot Docs Festival, and touts Beast of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin as a producer. Brimstone and Glory has been described as poetic and visually stunning, immersing the viewer into the beauty of this unique town, and is sure to be a doc to watch at the festival.

Showtimes: October 22, 2:40pm; October 28, 5:00pm

One of Us

This powerful documentary, which recently premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, tells the harrowing story of three members of the Hasidic community, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect, in Brooklyn attempting to make a life for themselves in the secular world. The film gives us a rare in depth look at a community that has remained isolated for decades, and the sacrifices made by its subjects in order to leave and gain their personal freedoms.

Showtimes: October 25, 3:40pm; October 29, 4:20pm

Bad Lucky Goat

Columbian director Samir Oliveros’ Bad Lucky Goat is a playful comedy about the misadventures of two teenage siblings who attempt to reconcile after accidentally killing a goat with their truck. This coming of age story is quirky light hearted and explores the unique cast of characters found throughout their city of Port Paradise.

Showtimes: October 21, 2:20pm; October 26, 2:50pm

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Directed by playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonagh, and starring Frances McDormand, this film is about a shopkeeper who has not emotionally recovered from her daughter’s gruesome, unsolved murder almost a year ago. One day, she constructs three crimson billboards brutally criticizing the police chief for his incompetence, and upheaves the status quo of her small town. Reviews from its previous major appearance in the Toronto Film Festival have been overwhelmingly positive, with critics praising the performances as well as the expertly intertwined drama and humor. Definitely check this one out for a unique experience.

Showtimes: October 27, 7:30pm