Noted Film Directors Bring Riveting New Dramas to 2018 Philadelphia Film Festival

Noted film directors Peter Hedges, Joel Edgerton, Paul Dano, and Jason Reitman have come to Philadelphia well aware they are reaching an appreciative film audience eager to witness their latest cinematic treasures, which are already receiving early Oscar buzz.

Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges in Peter Hedges’ Ben Is Back

Each of these directors has been discussing the art and craft of making movies and the behind-the-scenes bonding that went on during their film shoots at the memorable 27th Annual Philadelphia Film Festival, which continues through October 28.

“The program is as strong as ever,” says J. Andrew Greenblatt, the film festival’s executive director. “We’re also thrilled to be welcoming more guests than ever, with Dano, Edgerton, Hedges, and Reitman among the many filmmakers scheduled to join us.”

“The year 2018 has proven to be an incredibly strong year for new film, and we’re thrilled to bring many of the most anticipated, exciting and original films to Philadelphia first,” said Greenblatt.

“From our powerful, socially relevant and incredibly timely Opening Night screening of Ben is Back to the definitive look at Philadelphia music legend Teddy Pendergrass for our Closing Night selection, and the incredibly diverse line-up in-between,” he explained, “the films premiering in this year’s Festival will be discussed and remembered for a long time to come.

All told the festival offers 125 films from 37 countries during the 11-day event.

After 10 years of doing this, I love that we continue to find fresh, unique films that delight and challenge audiences.” said Artistic Director, Michael Lerman. “I’m so proud of the program the team has put together and I can’t wait to share the adventure we have in store for you.”

They are grateful to the community and the film world, for “allowing us to do what we love: bringing the best of film from around the world to Philadelphia.”

Over the past years, the Philadelphia Film Festival has experienced a great rise in attendance and in recognition and acclaim from attendees, critics, and industry professionals.

The line-up annual delivers a mixture of some of the year’s most anticipated films, many of which earn awards – including the Academy Award for Best Picture – alongside some of the most interesting, challenging, innovative, important, and informative new works of cinema from around the world.

Here is a look at several of the movies being shown at the Philadelphia Film Festival that are definitely worth spending your time with this fall:

Nicole Kidman and Lucas Hedges in Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased

Boy Erased – From writer-director Joel Edgerton this movie is sure to begin a dialogue about judgment, acceptance, sexual preference and family values. The movie from Focus Features tells the poignant and often difficult story, based on true events, of a minister’s son (Lucas Hedges) who must come to terms with his identity when he is forced into a conversion therapy program by his well-meaning parents, played by Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. Edgerton says when he was writing the script, he saw Crowe and Kidman in his mind, reached out to them and they both said yes. Edgerton not only wrote and directed this memorable movie, but he also stars as Victor Sykes, the man who runs the conversion program. This movie is a delicate portrait of a life in transition, handled with great compassion, and bolstered by powerful performances from the ensemble cast. Edgerton is best known for his acting roles in Red Sparrow, The Great Gatsby, and Zero Dark Thirty. This is the first movie that he wrote, directed, and starred in. Opens in theaters Nov. 2. The Front Runner –From writer-director Jason Reitman the movie stars Hugh Jackman as the charismatic politician Gary Hart. The movie follows the rise and fall of Senator Hart, who captured the imagination of young voters and was considered the overwhelming front-runner for the 1988 presidential nomination until his campaign was sidelined by the story of an extramarital affair with Donna Rice. As tabloid journalism and political journalism merged, Sen. Hart was forced to drop out of the race. These events left a profound and lasting impact on American politics and the world stage.  The ever-liked Jackman shines as the conflicted Hart, whose blind determination may not be enough to save his reputation and career. The movie, from Sony Pictures, also co-stars Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons, and Alfred Molina, The Front Runner was written by Matt Bai, Jay Carson and Jason Reitman, based on the book All the Truth is Out by Matt Bai. Reitman’s other movies include: Labor Day, Tully, In God We Trust, Juno, Jennifer’s Body and Up in the Air. Opens in theaters Nov. 6. 

Lucas Hedges and Kathryn Newton, play brother and sister in Ben is Back

Ben Is Back – From writer-director Peter Hedges, the movie is an emotional family drama about a mother and son who must grapple with a history of addiction and broken promises. Julia Roberts plays Holly, the mother, and Lucas Hedges (the director’s son) is her son, Ben, who comes home from rehab for on Christmas Eve, just in time to turn the family holidays upside down. Wrought with emotion, the movie, from Roadside Attractions, is a personal look on the effects of the ongoing opioid crises and turns this family’s struggle is an intimate window of what communities are going through around the nation.  The 28-day film shoot involved a great deal of bonding time for the superb actors, especially Hedges who as he peels back Ben’s layers again shows film audiences that he is one of the most gifted actors of his generation. Hedges’ writing and directing credits include Pieces of April, About A Boy, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and the Odd Life of Timothy Green. Opens in theaters Dec. 7. 

Kiki Layne and Stephan James in Barry Jenkins’ movie If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk – Moonlight director Barry Jenkins returns with this achingly beautiful James Baldwin about young lovers struggling against the unjust circumstances threatening to keep them apart. From Anapurna Pictures, two years after astonishing audiences and receiving the best picture Oscar for Moonlight, Jenkins returns with his most lyrical work to date. Adapted from Baldwin’s classic novel set in Harlem in the early 1970s, the movie begins as 19-year-old Tish (Kiki Layne) hesitantly reveals to her mother (Regina King) that she’s going to have a child. Though this would normally be news for celebration, Trish’s happiness is tempered by the fact that her baby’s father Fonny (Stephan James) is in prison after being falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Through flashbacks, Jenkins presents the story of Tish and Fonny as they mature from childhood friends into devoted partners, eager to build a life together. Opens in theaters Nov. 30. 

Scene from the movie Roma directed by Alfonso Cuaron

Roma – Drawing deep into the well of his childhood growing up in Mexico City’s Roma district, director Alfonso Cuaron recreates in painstaking detail his neighborhood circa 1971. With a painterly approach, he brings forth an immersive cinematic experience centered on an upper-middle-class household’s family crises reimaging the filmmaker’s own upbringing, but told largely from the point of view of Cleo, the indigenous maid and live-in nanny to matriarch Sofia, her husband, and young children. Deeply entrenched in the daily lives of her employers, Cleo finds herself at the forefront of a turbulent time, both within the family unit as Sophia’s husband spends less and less time at home. Opens in theaters Dec. 1. 

Teddy Pendergrass – The festival’s closing night film is “Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me.” Detailing the extraordinary of Philadelphia’s own Teddy Pendergrass, this moving documentary examines his brilliant career, inspiriting story, and unique contribution to popular music. Showing Friday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Philadelphia Film Center and Friday, Oct. 26 at the Ritz East.

 Centerpiece Films

  • Boy Erased, Director Joel Edgerton. 2018, USA.
  • Everybody Knows, Director Asghar Farhadi. 2018, Spain.
  • The Front Runner, Director Jason Reitman. 2018, USA.
  • Green Book, Director Peter Farrelly. 2018, USA.
  • If Beale Street Could Talk, Director Barry Jenkins. 2018, USA.
  • Roma, Director Alfonso Cuarón. 2018, Mexico.
  • Widows, Director Steve McQueen. 2018, USA.
  • Wildlife, Director Paul Dano. 2018, USA.

Masters of Cinema, Presented by aka: These new films exemplify the masterful work of world-renowned filmmakers as they continue to thrill and inspire audiences with cutting-edge features.

  • Ash Is Purest White, Director Jia Zhangke. 2018, China, France, Japan.
  • Burning, Director Lee Chang-dong. 2018, Korea.
  • Cold War, Director Pawl Pawlikoswki. 2018, Poland, UK.
  • Dogman, Director Matteo Garrone. 2018, France, Italy.
  • The Favourite, Director Yorgos Lanthimos. 2018, Ireland, UK.
  • Foreboding, Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. 2018, Japan.
  • The Image Book, Director Jean-Luc Godard. 2018, Switzerland.
  • Infinite Football, Director Corneliu Proumboiu. 2018, Romania.
  • Monrovia, Indiana, Director Frederick Wiseman. 2018, USA.
  • Non-Fiction, Director Olivier Assayas. 2018, France.
  • Shoplifters, Director Hirokazu Kore-eda. 2018, Japan.
  • Transit, Director Christian Petzold. 2018, Germany, France.

 Spotlights, Presented by Philadelphia Style: Highly-anticipated movies from some of the biggest names in the industry, these films shine a spotlight on top talent from around the world.

  • All Square, Director John Hyams. 2018, USA.
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? Director Marielle Heller. 2018, USA.
  • Donnybrook, Director Tim Sutton. 2018, USA.
  • Galveston, Director Mélanie Laurent. 2018, USA.
  • A Private War, Matthew Heineman. 2018, USA.
  • The Upside, Director Neil Burger. 2019, USA.
  • What They Had, Director Elizabeth Chomko. 2018, USA.
  • Wild Nights With Emily, Director Madeleine Olnek. 2018, USA.
  • You Can Choose Your Family, Director Miranda Bailey. 2017, USA.

    The Front Runner from director Jason Reitman

    Tickets may be purchased for these riveting movies through the Philadelphia Film Festival website,, in-person at the main box office at the Philadelphia Film Center, or over the phone at 215-422-4970 (Monday – Saturday from 12 noon to 5:00 pm).











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