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Congratulations to the PFF24 Award Winners!

Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Uncategorized

Last night, the awards winners for the 24th Philadelphia Film Festival were announced proceeding Closing Night film Where to Invade Next.  Congratulations to all our winners!


Audience Awards // When Voices Meet

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Student Choice Award // The Boy and the Beast

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Best Narrative // Ixcanul Volcano

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Honorable Mention | Best Screenplay // The White Knights

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Honorable Mention | Best Acting // The Club

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Best Documentary // The Pearl Button

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Honorable Mention // (T)ERROR


Best Short // World of Tomorrow

World of Tomorrow

Honorable Mention // Manoman


Sharon Pinkenson for Best Local Feature // Beer Runners

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Archie Award for Best First Feature // Mustang


Film Review – Dheepan


Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Don Malvasi

Republished from

If you haven’t seen Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet (2010), do whatever it takes to catch up. Also, don’t miss Auduard’s latest, Dheepan, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Dheepan is the story of a “fake family” of refuges from war-torn Sri Lanka. Former Tamil Tiger Dheepan (Antonysaythan Jesuthasan, himself a former boy soldier), in order to escape the battle zone, assembles a pretend family while in the refugee camp. A woman, Yalini (Kalieaswara Srinivisan), searches the camp for orphaned children. She eventually finds nine-year-old Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby), a perfect fit for the dead family whose identity and passports the threesome will now assume.

Film Review – Ixcanul Volcano


Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Don Malvasi

Republished from

Dirt-poor with no running water nor electricity, and unable to read or write, Maria (unprofessional actress Maria Mercedes Coroy) is set up by her strong-willed, well-meaning parents for an arranged marriage to the foreman of the coffee plantation they inhabit. What transpires is a revealing glimpse into the Mayan culture of the Guatemalan highlands. Maria’s gaze is so intently piercing, it isn’t hard to figure out she is constantly alert for danger. She and her parents, who speak the Kaqchikel language and virtually no Spanish, do things the way they have been done for centuries.

When Maria begins to question things, she proceeds cautiously. Yet her drive for self-expression holds steady through a caldron of superstition and physical danger, including a host of poisonous snakes. I left the film with a deep fondness for these indigenous people, high admiration for Maria’s dynamic mom (a terrific Maria Telon), and nothing but respect for Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante. Bustamante’s excellent helpers include cinematographer Luis Armango Arteaga and veteran sound designer Julien Cloquet, who had me wondering whether the theater’s sound system was going haywire only to figure out that it was actually the eerie roar of the smoldering dormant volcano in the background. When Maria asks her friend Pepe what is on the other side of the volcano, he flippantly replies the U. S. with that little thing Mexico in between.

ixanul volcano will play again on saturday, october 31 at the Ritz Bourse.

Film Review – The Program

The Program

Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Don Malvasi

Republished from

The narrative surrounding Lance Armstrong was just too good to offer much public resistance. His overcoming of testicular cancer diagnosed at age 21, his championing of promoting others to fight the disease, and not least, his seven consecutive Tour de France victories all clouded the many signals that something grim was awry. Stephen FrearsThe Program outlines the injections, the blood transfusions, the bullying, and most of all, the self-deception that eventually doomed Armstrong into disgrace. Highlighted by an excellent Ben Foster performance as Armstrong, the film also boasts a very good Chris O’Dowd as the London Sunday Times journalist who led the expose. The film’s compassion for Armstrong centers on his unqualified desire to be a champion. His “everybody’s doping” argument finally subsides when he realizes he’s lost, but not before we get a chilling glimpse into the psyche of an obsessed competitor, equal parts flinty and freaked out.

PFS Interview – Richard Gere & Oren Moverman // Time Out of Mind


Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Alex Gibson

When most people see the title of Richard Gere’s latest film, they will undoubtedly recall the Bob Dylan album of the same name. However, the phrase “Time Out of Mind” did not originate with Dylan, according to director Oren Moverman.Like all great Dylan, [it] comes from Shakespeare, from Romeo & Juliet…and then it turns out it was also rooted in British law.  It means a time in memorial…something that exists beyond memory, beyond time…” Moverman went on to say this idea closely described how he saw Time Out of Mind’s main character.

In the first scene of Time Out of Mind, we find a well-known face – one that has graced the screen and lived in our hearts  as a knight, an officer, a gentleman, a gigolo, and dozens of other characters. Though his face is engrained in our memories, when Richard Gere first appears in Time Out of Mind, there is something harshly unfamiliar about him, with his shabby clothes, scruff, and a curved scar on his scalp. Rather than the debonair character he usually portrays, this time Gere plays George Hammond, a meandering homeless man who spends his days wandering the streets of New York City.

PFS Rapid Recommendation – The Man from U.N.C.L.E

Man from UNCLE1

Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Kaya Proctor

The Man From U.N.C.L.E is not your typical Guy Ritchie film, but an ode to 1960’s spy flicks. Yes, it was chalk full of split screens, spinning shots, and high speed action sequences, but it also contained a few surprises. The writing on this film, though slightly predictable, was wonderful! Chalk full of dry humor and comical banter between the two male leads, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. All in all it is a fun watch, and definitely worth checking out.

PFS Review – Southpaw


Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Andrea Selitto

Boxing has always been an excellent metaphor for life: at any moment, anyone can find themselves on the ropes, and at any moment, anyone can come back and win the fight. Southpaw is a film about both. Like all great boxing films, it is a tale about facing adversity and finding the strength to overcome life’s greatest challenges.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Kurt Sutter and Richard Wenk, Southpaw follows boxer Billy “The Great” Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he struggles to find redemption both inside and outside of the ring. After the sudden, tragic death of his wife (Rachel McAdams), Hope finds himself caught in a downward spiral of grief and self-destruction that leads to him losing custody of his daughter (Oona Laurence) and facing the end of his boxing career. Abandoned by his manager and long-time friend (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) and demoralized by the loss of his family, Hope turns to trainer Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) to help him turn his career, and his life, around.

PFS Interview: Rebecca Ferguson of Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation

RebeccaFerguson in MI-RN

Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs, Uncategorized

By Alex Gibson

It has been almost two decades since Ethan Hunt first appeared on the silver screen, as he attempted to rescue the NOC List and iconic-ly hovered in a gleaming computer room.  The original Missions Impossible has since led to four sequels, including this month’s Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation, opening July 31.

In Rogue Nation, directed by Edge of Tomorrow screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, the IMF, a small highly-specialized group of spies, faces its most dangerous opponent yet: the Syndicate.  After being disbanded by the CIA, Ethan (Tom Cruise) and his team learn that the Syndicate, previously thought of as a myth among spies, is real.  This ring of extremely skilled spies, who have thrown out their moral compasses and allegiances, are now plotting to throw the world into turmoil, unless Ethan can stop them.  Left out in the cold by the US government, Ethan and is team race against the clock to defeat rogue spies who will challenge them emotionally, intellectually, and physically.

PFS Review – Amy

FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2007 file photo, British singer Amy Winehouse poses for photographs after being interviewed by The Associated Press at a studio in north London. Amy Winehouse, the beehived soul-jazz diva whose self-destructive habits overshadowed a distinctive musical talent, was found dead Saturday in her London home, police said. She was 27. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs, Uncategorized

By Don Malvasi

Originally posted on

Director Asif Kapadia took what was the blessing of Amy Winehouse’s family and record company and then relentlessly actually made the film that needed to be made on the life of Amy Winehouse. His biopic wisely throws out any political correctness and eschews a safe approach for an ultimately honest one. The results offer a movie that is hands-down among the year’s best. A film as tough to sit through as 12 Years A Slave, Amy could go down as the quintessential tragic rendering of the abhorrent cost of fame in this unforgiving age. At once monstrous and life-affirming, Amy is the rare film that elicits many an excruciating reaction while also rendering an odd catharsis. Winehouse here on one level is the indomitable beacon of a pop star. Except for her amazing voice and songwriting, she seems just like you and me in so many ways, yet is ultimately destined for tragedy.

PFS Review – Clouds of Sils Maria


Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Don Malvasi

Originally posted on

See it at the Roxy! copy

Clouds of Sils Maria contains an acting clinic and so much more. French director Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours, Carlos, Irma Vep, Demonlover) takes many chances with his solid, often wondrous, occasionally mystifying material. The viewer needs to do some work here but the rewards are plentiful. His screenplay is straightforward enough but teasingly opaque like the snake-like cloud formations he photographs so well in Sils Maria, a beautiful region in the Swiss Alps. The cloud formation portends bad weather, and it’s symbolism hangs in the rare mountain air with ravening doom.