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PFF29 Preview

The 29th Philadelphia Film Festival is now underway, both online and in the Navy Yard Drive-In, and you can view the full program here. Though, if you need help deciding what to watch, here are some films our writers think you should check out!

Hannah: Ema (Virtual Theater)

Ema, by director Pablo Larraín, is an interesting beast. I actually had the chance to see this through Mubi’s free screening of it on May 1st, 2020 - I saw an advertisement on Facebook, saw the cool dancing and colors on screen, thought why not, and ended up having one of the most interesting, disturbing, and confusing film experiences I’ve had all year. It follows a woman named Ema's quest to get her adopted son back, as he had brought back to the orphanage. What follows is a dramatic thriller with an intensely cerebral edge to it, so if you’re interested in an unconventional time at the movies, give this a look!

Hayley: Ammonite (Drive-In)

This romantic drama starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan is loosely inspired by the life of British paleontologist and fossil collector Mary Anning (played by Winslet), famous for her prehistoric discoveries and for her unusual status as a Dissenter and woman in the scientific community. Ammonite takes place on the coast of Southern England in the 1840s, where Anning supports herself by selling fossils to tourists, her fame and career in scientific discovery over. At the request of a desperate tourist, Anning begrudgingly agrees to take his wife Charlotte, who is suffering from "melancholia" after personal tragedy, under her wing. Despite coming from very different worlds, the two women pursue a passionate love affair, and each cures the other's profound loneliness. Ammonite premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and has received critical acclaim for Ronan and Winslet's performances. You can watch Ammonite at select drive-in showings during the festival.

Caylen: Breaking Surface (Virtual Theater)

Breaking Surface (2020) is an upcoming Swedish survival thriller that puts complicated sisterly bonds to the test. Directed by Joachim Heden, the film follows Ida (Moa Gammel) from Sweden to a remote part of coastal Norway for a reunion with her younger half–sister Tuva (Madeleine Martin), who is a professional diver. Ida is resentful of Tuva, but is forced to put her feelings aside when Tuva becomes trapped deep underwater during a diving excursion. Facing a rapidly decreasing oxygen supply, Ida must race against the clock to save her sister in this suspenseful, underwater adventure. For fans of thriller and tension, this premiere will surely be a movie for you.

Hannah: Summer of 85 (Virtual Theater)

Summer of ‘85 comes to us from French auteur François Ozon, who previously helmed By The Grace of God (winner of the 69th Berlin International Film Festival’s Jury Prize) and the controversial Swimming Pool in 2003. His latest film is based on a young adult novel, Dance on my Grave, by Aidan Chambers, and was supposed to premiere In Competition at the Cannes Film Festival. It follows teenager Alexis as he recounts the summer of 1985, in which he both fell in love with the free-living David and experienced an unknowable tragedy for the first time. Shot on grainy 16 mm film to retain the style of the 1980s and with a soundtrack that’s evocative of the era, the film is sure to entertain those looking for a nostalgic kick and love a mature teenage love story.

Gaby - Minari (Virtual Theater)

Minari, from writer/director Lee Isaac Chung, portrays Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim, and Noel Kate Cho as an immigrant family that comes to Arkansas to start a farm. This film details a reframed reality of the American Dream through this family’s story, as the search for a better life in the Midwest comes with a fair share of struggles. The juxtaposition of Korean and rural American traditions and values that are portrayed in Minari is a testament to Chung’s life growing up in Arkansas. As stated by critics, each character is created with unabated authenticity and genuine inspiration, and the film does a stellar job of representing how different ways of life manifest in how a child views the world. Having won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic film at Sundance, Minari is one hundred percent one of the films you should keep in mind as you browse through what to watch during the Philly film festival.

Emma: Come True (Virtual Theater)

Come True, written and directed by Anthony Scott Burns, is an artistic sci-fi thriller that explores the world of the subconscious through dreams. Julia Sarah Stone portrays a young runaway with disturbing nightmares, hoping to find some solace in a mysterious university sleep study. She realizes this was a grave mistake as she begins to experience unsettling side effects. Drawing inspiration from sci-fi greats David Lynch and David Cronenberg, Burns immerses the audience in a world that is sinister and surreal, leaving you wondering whether you’re awake or dreaming. Though it hasn’t garnered much attention yet, this 80’s-inspired tech horror is sure to keep you up at night.

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