Philadelphia Film Society announces the full line-up for the 30th Philadelphia Film Festival

The Philadelphia Film Society (PFS) is proud to announce the full line-up for the 30th Philadelphia Film Festival (PFF), spanning from October 20 – October 31. This year’s Festival will offer in-person screenings at all PFS venues (Philadelphia Film Center, PFS Bourse Theater, and the PFS Drive-In at the Navy Yard) and select films will also be available on the virtual screening platform, Watch.Filmadelphia.org.

To allow all patrons to experience the Festival comfortably and safely, there will be health and safety protocols in place, including proof of vaccination and mask requirements plus maintaining 50% capacity at all Festival screenings with empty seats between patrons to ensure distancing. Additional information on the Festival’s protocols can be found on the Philadelphia Film Society website.

“We at the Philadelphia Film Society used the pandemic as a moment to reflect, refocus, and consider our future, including how we can best utilize resources, and continue to share our belief in the power of film to bring communities together,” said J. Andrew Greenblatt, CEO & Executive Director, Philadelphia Film Society. “After reopening our theaters this Summer, we’re excited to welcome back Philadelphians and film lovers everywhere for our milestone 30th anniversary Philadelphia Film Festival taking place for the first time in our history, exclusively in our own venues. We’re thrilled to be able to return to our traditional Festival experience, offering a tremendous slate of films that inspire, engage, educate, and entertain diverse audiences. We’ve spent a great deal of time carefully working to ensure the safety and comfort of all attendees. We’re also bringing back our digital streaming platform for those Festival attendees not ready to return to in-theater viewing, making the Festival as accessible as possible for all.”

The 30th anniversary line-up features a multitude of remarkable films from a wide range of genres. In total, the Festival will showcase more than 130 feature length and short films. Many films will be in contention for coveted jury awards decided by the Festival’s panel of judges, including the Narrative Feature Competition, Documentary Feature Competition, Short Film Competition and Pinkenson Award Local Feature Competition (noted below).

The line-up includes the North American premieres of 3 films and the United States premieres of 10 films. The Festival line-up is curated by the PFF programming team who carefully selects each film from multiple international festivals throughout the year.

“Coming off a year of pushed back release dates and societal confusion, I’m happy to report that cinema is stronger than ever. This year’s line-up is truly one of our most robust and explosive,” said Michael Lerman, Artistic Director, Philadelphia Film Society. “It’s easy to see that filmmakers took this time to hone their work and return with some of the most emotional, powerful and entertaining films we’ve shown to date. With more documentaries than ever, a new special section devoted to environmental cinema, some highlights from contemporary Iranian filmmakers, and a plethora of award-winning movies from masters and newcomers alike, we’ve been able to cull together a true snapshot, not just of where we are in film, but the current state of the world around us in the most propulsive and audience friendly way possible. We always like to say ‘there’s something for everyone’ but this year more than ever, it’s all for everyone.” 

The Opening Night film will be BELFAST on Wednesday, October 20th. The semi-autobiographical film, written and directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh, tells the story of the life of a working-class family and their young son’s childhood during the tumult of the late 1960s in the Northern Ireland capital. The film stars Jamie Dornan, Caitríona Balfe, and Dame Judi Dench.

Additionally, select sections of the Festival will also have their own opening nights. These titles include BECOMING COUSTEAU, opening PFS’ new environmental category, Green Screen; DRIVE MY CAR, opening Masters of Cinema; STORM LAKE, opening Non/Fiction; and UNCLENCHING THE FISTS, opening World View.

The Closing Night film will be THE SAME STORM on Friday, October 29th. Inventively filmed during lockdown, THE SAME STORM, written and directed by Peter Hedges, is an ambitious, open-hearted response to the upheavals of 2020. Taking loose inspiration from the classic structure of the 19th-Century play La Ronde, the film consists of interlocking vignettes, usually featuring one character who also appears in the next sequence. 

Centerpiece screenings include THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy, which premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival to universal acclaim; KING RICHARD, starring Philadelphia native Will Smith as Richard Williams, father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams; and THE FRENCH DISPATCH, written and directed by Wes Anderson with an all-star cast led by Timothée Chalamet. This year’s Festival also features a special Secret Centerpiece Screening.

The Festival will feature two Special Event screenings of CLERK, Malcolm Ingram’s documentary surrounding the eventful life and career of beloved filmmaker Kevin Smith. Both Ingram and Smith are scheduled to attend the Festival for extended Q&As at both screenings.

The From The Vaults category features two iconic films presented on 35MM, the 30th anniversary of Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Hitchcock homage, DEAD AGAIN, and the 50th anniversary of A NEW LEAF, the directorial debut of Philadelphia legend Elaine May. From The Vaults also features several 4K restorations of classic films including HEAT, the first collaboration between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro; ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 from master of horror John Carpenter; and Lynne Ramsey’s RATCATCHER, the masterful story of one boy’s troubled youth in 1970s Glasgow.

This year’s line-up includes two new categories plus the return of Sight & Soundtrack. In honor of the Philadelphia Film Society’s inaugural year producing the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival, there will be a new environmental category, Green Screen – from animal welfare to the effects of climate change, these thought-provoking films address urgent environmental issues. The “Visions of” category this year highlights Iran, which houses one of the world’s most vibrant and daring contemporary film scenes. These categories expand upon the Festival’s goal of presenting films that are both timely and thought provoking in their relevance.

The Filmadelphia Category and Filmadelphia Shorts Program emphasize the Philadelphia Film Society’s ongoing commitment to film in Greater Philadelphia, featuring brilliant films from the region’s most captivating filmmakers. This year, the category includes the East Coast premiere of Alysa Nahmias’ stirring documentary KRIMES, which follows local artist Jesse Krimes who created spectacular works while incarcerated and continues to use his work to inspire and challenge. Another highlight is Hallee Adelman and Sean King O’Grady’s documentary OUR AMERICAN FAMILY, an honest and unflinching portrayal of a Philadelphia family fighting to rebuild their relationships after being nearly torn apart by addiction.

The full Festival schedule and digital Festival Program Guide are available at  www.filmadelphia.org/festival.

Screenings for the 30th Philadelphia Film Festival will take place at the below venues, with a limited number of titles also available for virtual screenings on Watch.Filmadelphia.org:

  • Philadelphia Film Center (1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102)
  • PFS Bourse Theater (400 Ranstead Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106)
  • PFS Drive-In at the Navy Yard (Admiral Peary Way & League Island Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19112)

Badges are on-sale now! Individual Tickets will go on-sale for Philadelphia Film Society members on Friday, October 8th and to the general public beginning Monday, October 11th.

Tickets may be purchased through the Festival website, www.filmadelphia.org/festival, in-person at the Box Offices at the Philadelphia Film Center and PFS Bourse Theater, or over the phone at 215-422-4588.

30th Philadelphia Film Festival Full Line-up

* Available via the Online Virtual Screening Platform

Part of the PFS on Us Complimentary Tickets Initiative

Opening Night Film

  • Belfast, Director Kenneth Branagh. 2021, UK.

Closing Night Film

  • The Same Storm, Director Peter Hedges. 2021, USA. (East Coast Premiere

Centerpieces 

  • C’mon C’mon, Director Mike Mills. 2021, USA. 
  • The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Director Will Sharpe. 2021, UK. 
  • Encounter, Director Michael Pearce. 2021, UK, USA. 
  • The French Dispatch, Director Wes Anderson. 2021, USA, Germany. 
  • King Richard, Director Reinaldo Marcus Green. 2021, USA. 
  • Spencer, Director Pablo Larraín. 2021, UK, Germany.  
  • Secret Screening, Director ???, 2021, ???

Special Events 

  • Clerk, Director Malcolm Ingram. 2021, USA, Canada. 
    • Extended Q&As scheduled at both screenings with Director Malcolm Ingram and Subject Kevin Smith 

Masters of Cinema – The latest films by a new generation of acclaimed auteurs and established directors who continue to reshape the cinematic landscape. 

  • Drive My Car, Director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi. 2021, Japan. (Opening Night Film – Masters of Cinema)
  • A Hero, Director Asghar Farhadi. 2021, Iran, France. 
  • Huda’s Salon, Director Hany Abu-Assad. 2021, Palestine, Egypt, Netherlands, Qatar.* 
  • Memoria, Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. 2021, Colombia, Thailand, UK, Mexico, France.  
  • One Second, Director Zhang Yimou. 2020, China. 
  • Paris, 13th District, Director Jacques Audiard. 2021, France.*
  • Petite Maman, Director Céline Sciamma. 2021, France. 
  • Red Rocket, Director Sean Baker. 2021, USA. 
  • The Souvenir Part II, Director Joanna Hogg. 2021, UK. 
  • Sundown, Director Michel Franco. 2021, Mexico, France, Sweden.
  • Vortex, Director Gaspar Noé. 2021, France. 
  • The Worst Person in the World, Director Joachim Trier. 2021, Norway.  


Spotlights – This year’s highly anticipated titles featuring some of the biggest names in front of and behind the camera.

  • Antlers, Director Scott Cooper. 2021, USA, Mexico, Canada.
  • ClayDream, Director Marq Evans. 2021, USA.
  • The First Step, Director Brandon Kramer. 2021. USA.* 
  • The Humans, Director Stephen Karam. 2021, USA.
  • Julia, Director Julie Cohen, Betsy West. 2021, USA.
  • Mayor Pete, Director Jesse Moss. 2021, USA. 
  • Paper & Glue, Director JR.  2021, France, USA, Mexico, Brazil.ᐩ 

World View – Works that demonstrate the diversity and vitality of contemporary international cinema from some of the globe’s most exciting filmmakers.

  • Unclenching the Fists, Director Kira Kovalenko. 2021, Russia. (Opening Night Film – World View
  • A Chiara, Director Jonas Carpignano. 2021, Italy. 
  • Amira, Director Mohamed Diab. 2021, Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia. (In Competition – Best Narrative Feature)
  • Bad Lucky Banging or Loony Porn, Director Radu Jude. 2021, Romania, Luxembourg, Croatia, Czech Republic.  
  • A Balance, Director Yujiro Harumoto. 2021, Japan. 
  • Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, Director Junta Yamaguchi. 2021, Japan.* 
  • Brother’s Keeper, Director Ferit Karahan. 2021, Turkey, Romania.*
  • Captain Volkonogov Escaped, Director Aleksey Chupov, Natasha Merkulova. 2021, Russia, France, Estonia. (In Competition – Best Narrative Feature)
  • Clara Sola, Director Nathalie Álvarez Mesén. 2021, Sweden, Costa Rica, Belgium. 
  • Copilot, Director Anne Zohra Berrached. 2021, Germany, France, Lebanon. (North American Premiere)  
  • Drunken Birds, Director Ivan Grbovic. 2021, Canada. (United States Premiere, In Competition – Best Narrative Feature)
  • Great Freedom, Director Sebastian Meise. 2021, Austria, Germany. 
  • Last Film Show, Director Pan Nalin. 2021, India. 
  • Let It Be Morning, Director Eran Kolirin, 2021. (North American Premiere)  
  • Lingui, The SacredBonds, Director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. 2021, France, Germany, Belgium, Chad.ᐩ
  • Luzzu, Director Alex Camilleri. 2021, Malta.* 
  • Medusa, Director Anita Rocha da Silveira. 2021, Brazil. (United States Premiere)* 
  • Night Raiders, Director Danis Goulet. 2021, Canada, New Zealand.ᐩ 
  • NinjaBaby, Director Yngvild Sve Flikke. 2021, Norway. (United States Premiere)*  
  • Perfume de Gardenias, Director Macha Colón. 2021, Puerto Rico, Colombia. 
  • Persian Lessons, Director Vadim Perelman. 2021, Russia, Germany, Belarus.  
  • Terrorizers, Director Ho Wi Ding. 2021, Taiwan. (United States Premiere, In Competition – Best Narrative Feature)
  • Yuni, Director Kamila Andini. 2021, Singapore, France, Indonesia, Australia.* (In Competition – Best Narrative Feature)

Non/Fiction – Compelling and provocative, these contemporary docs encourage viewers to see the world through a different lens. 

  • Storm Lake, Director Beth Levison, Jerry Risius. 2021, USA. (Opening Night Film – Non/Fiction)*
  • Alien on Stage, Director Lucy Harvey, Danielle Kummer. 2021, UK.* 
  • The First Wave, Director Matthew Heineman. 2021, USA.*ᐩ (In Competition – Best Documentary Feature)
  • Flee, Director Jonas Poher Rasmussen. 2021, Denmark, France, Sweden, Norway. 
  • Mr. Bachmann and His Class, Director Maria Speth. 2021, Germany. (United States Premiere, In Competition – Best Documentary Feature)*ᐩ 
  • President, Director Camilla Nielsson. 2021, Denmark, USA, Norway.*ᐩ 
  • Searchers, Director Pacho Velez. 2021, USA.* (In Competition – Best Documentary Feature)
  • Procession, Director Robert Greene. 2021. USA.ᐩ (In Competition – Best Documentary Feature)
  • Television Event, Director Jeff Daniels. 2021, USA, Australia.* (In Competition – Best Documentary Feature)
  • Three Minutes – A Lengthening, Director Bianca Stigter. 2021, Netherlands, UK. (In Competition – Best Documentary Feature)
  • Try Harder!, Director Debbie Lum. 2021, USA.*
  • Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, Director Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler. 2021, USA.ᐩ 

After Hours – Bringing together the odd, eerie, thrilling, and downright weird, this is the home of cult classics in the making. 

  • Saloum, Director Jean Luc Herbulot. 2021, Senegal. (Opening Night Film – After Hours
  • Good Madam, Director Jenna Cato Bass. 2021, South Africa. 
  • The Innocents, Director Eskil Vogt. 2021, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, UK. 
  • Limbo, Director Cheang Soi. 2021, Hong Kong. 
  • Mother Schmuckers, Director Harpo Guit, Lenny Guit. 2021, Belgium. (East Coast Premiere)* 
  • Offseason, Director Mickey Keating. 2021, USA. 
  • The Sadness, Director Rob Jabbaz. 2021, Taiwan.

From the Vaults – Film classics come alive as they were meant to be seen – on the big screen!

  • Assault on Precinct 13, Director John Carpenter. 1976, USA. 
    • Presented in Restored 4K 
  • Dead Again, Director Kenneth Branagh. 1991, USA. 
    • Presented on 35MM 
  • Heat, Director Michael Mann. 1995, USA. 
    • Presented in Restored 4K 
  • Hester Street, Director Joan Micklin Silver. 1975, USA.ᐩ 
    • Presented in Restored 4K 
  • A New Leaf, Director Elaine May. 1971, USA. 
    • Presented on 35MM 
  • Ratcatcher, Director Lynne Ramsay. 1999, USA. 
    • Presented in Restored 4K 
  • The Souvenir, Director Joanna Hogg. 2019, UK.  

Filmadelphia – Showcasing the most dynamic and talented voices from the Greater Philadelphia area. (All Films in competition for the Pinkenson Award for Best Local Feature)

  • All About My Sisters, Director Wang Qiong. 2021, USA.*ᐩ
  • The Automat, Director Lisa Hurwitz. 2021, USA. (East Coast Premiere
  • Bill Mauldin: If It’s Big, Hit It, Director Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce. 2021, USA.*ᐩ
  • Krimes, Director Alysa Nahmias. 2021, USA.* (East Coast Premiere
  • Our American Family, Director Hallee Adelman, Sean King O’Grady. 2021, USA.

Made in USA – Lo-fi gems and new indie classics that offer a fresh perspective on today’s America.

  • Agnes, Director Mickey Reece. 2021, USA. 
  • as of yet, Director Taylor Garron, Chanel James. 2021, USA.ᐩ 
  • Catch the Fair One, Director Josef Kubota Wladyka. 2021, USA.* 
  • The End of Us, Director Steven Kanter, Henry Loevner. 2021, USA.* 
  •  Jockey, Director Clint Bentley. 2021, USA. 
  • The Novice, Director Lauren Hadaway. 2021, USA.*

Cinema de France – Sharing a language with some of cinema’s most revered classics and legendary auteurs, these new films have that certain je ne sais quoi.

  • The Braves, Director Anaïs Volpé. 2021, France. (United States Premiere)*  
  • Gagarine, Director Fanny Liatard. 2020, France. (In Competition – Best Narrative Feature)
  • Madeleine Collins, Director Antoine Barraud. 2021, France, Belgium, Switzerland.
  • Skies of Lebanon, Director Chloé Mazlo. 2021, France.
  • A Tale of Love and Desire, Director Leyla Bouzid. 2021, France. (United States Premiere)  
  • The World After Us, Director Louda Ben Salah-Cazanas. 2021, France. (United States Premiere)*
  • Zero Fucks Given, Director Julie Lecoustre, Emmanuel Marre. 2021, Belgium, France. (United States Premiere)  

Green Screen – In Honor of the Philadelphia Film Society’s inaugural year producing the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival, introducing Green Screen. From animal welfare to the effects of climate change, these thought-provoking films address urgent environmental issues.

  • Becoming Cousteau, Director Liz Garbus. 2021, USA. (Opening Night Film – Green Screen).
  • Costa Brava, Lebanon, Director Mounia Akl. 2021, Lebanon, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Qatar.
  • Cow, Director Andrea Arnold. 2021, UK.
  • Whether the Weather Is Fine, Director Carlo Francisco Manatad. 2021, Philippines, France, Singapore, Indonesia, Germany, Qatar.ᐩ 

Visions of Iran – Consistently producing some of the most exciting cinema of our times, Iran’s film industry is showcased in this diverse set of daring and often subversive voices. 

  • The Absent Director, Director Arvand Dashtaray. 2021, Iran. (North American Premiere
  • Ballad of a White Cow, Director Behtash Sanaeeha, Maryam Moghaddam. 2021, Iran, France.* (In Competition – Best Narrative Feature)
  • Hit the Road, Director Panah Panahi. 2021, Iran.* (In Competition – Best Narrative Feature)
  • Zalava, Director Arsalan Amiri. 2021, Iran. 

Sight & Soundtrack – Featuring rockumentaries, musician biopics, and films centered on the unifying power of music. 

  • Bernstein’s Wall, Director Douglas Tirola. 2021, USA.
  • La Traviata, My Brothers and I, Director Yohan Manca. 2021, France. (United States Premiere
  • Listening to Kenny G, Director Penny Lane. 2021, USA. (In Competition – Best Documentary Feature) 
  • Soul Kids, Director Hugo Sobelman. 2021, France.  
  • Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine, Director Sam Dunn, Marc Ricciardelli. 2021, Canada. (United States Premiere)  

Short Films 
(All shorts in competition for Best Short Film)

  • The Affected, Director Rikke Gregersen, 2020, Norway.
  • BJ’s Mobile Gift Shop, Director Jason Park, 2021, USA. 
  • City Creatures, Director Michael A. Johnston, 2021, USA.
  • The Contract Musical, Director Chris Cole, 2021, USA.
  • The Criminals, Director Serhat Karaaslan, 2020, France, Romania, Turkey.
  • Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma, Director Topaz Jones, Rubberband, 2021, USA.
  • Easter Eggs, Director Nicolas Keppens, 2020, Belgium, Netherlands, France
  • The Expected, Director Carolina Sandvik, 2021, Sweden.
  • The Field Trip, Director Mike Attie, Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, Meghan O’Hara, 2021, USA.
  • Flex, Director Josefin Malmén, David Strindberg, 2020, Sweden.
  • Ghost Dogs, Director Joe Cappa, 2021, USA.  
  • GNT, Director Sara Hirner, Rosemary Vasquez-Brown, 2021, Australia.
  • In the Air Tonight, Director Andrew Norman Wilson, 2021, USA. 
  • Joe Buffalo, Director Amar Chebib, 2021, Canada.
  • Kim, Director Maria Vattimo, 2021, USA. 
  • KKUM, Director Kang Min Kim, 2020, USA, South Korea.
  • Land of the Free: In the Shadows, Director James Ganiere, 2020, USA.
  • Learning Tagalog with Kayla, Director Kayla Abuda Galang, 2021, USA. 
  • Light Years Apart, Director Mariia Osanova, 2021, USA.
  • Little Miss Fate, Director Joder von Rotz, 2021, Switzerland. 
  • No Dye, Director Yoni Azulay, 2021, USA. 
  • Normal, Director Julie Caty, 2021, France. 
  • Plastic Semiotic, Director Radu Jude, 2021, Romania.
  • The Rifleman, Director Sierra Pettengill, 2021, USA. 
  • The Right Words, Director Adrian Moyse Dullin, 2021, France.
  • See Us in the Wildfire, Director Jason Chen, 2021, USA. 
  • Senior Prom, Director Luisa Conlon, 2021, USA. 
  • Sisters of the Soil, Director Raishad M. Hardnett, Aidan M. Un, 2021, USA. 
  • Snowy, Director Kaitlyn Schwalje, Alex Wolf Lewis, 2021, USA. 
  • Souvenir Souvenir, Director Bastien Dubois, 2021, France. 
  • Trade Center, Director Adam Baran, 2021, USA. 

Virtual Titles Available both in-theater and via the online virtual screening platform

  • Alien on Stage
  • All About My Sisters
  • Ballad of a White Cow
  • Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
  • Bill Mauldin: If It’s Big, Hit It
  • Brother’s Keeper
  • Catch the Fair One
  • Hit the Road
  • Huda’s Salon
  • Krimes
  • Luzzu
  • Medusa
  • Mother Schmuckers
  • Mr. Bachmann and His Class
  • NinjaBaby
  • Paris, 13th District
  • President
  • Searchers
  • Storm Lake
  • Sundown
  • Television Event
  • The Braves
  • The End of Us
  • The First Step
  • The First Wave
  • The Novice
  • The World After Us
  • Try Harder! 
  • Yuni 

Please see individual film listings on filmadelphia.org for screening schedule and guests anticipated to attend. 

The 30th Philadelphia Film Festival is made possible through the generous support of its sponsors, including:

  • Lead Sponsors: aka., World of HA Productions
  • Official Sponsors: Philadelphia Style, W Philadelphia, 6abc, iHeart Radio, Wavelength Productions
  • Contributing Sponsors: Tito’s Handmade Vodka, PECO, Compass, AlkemyX
  • Patron Sponsors: Glenmede, AARP Philadelphia, Xfinity, Cozen O’Connor, and The Judge Group 

The Philadelphia Film Society continues to put the health and safety of its patrons first. The Philadelphia Film Society follows the guidelines and standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and all City of Philadelphia guidelines. Protocols are subject to change if deemed necessary for the safety of our patrons and staff. Joining local arts and cultural organizations as well as venues across the country, the Philadelphia Film Society will require masking as well as proof of vaccination for all badge and ticket holders attending the 30th Philadelphia Film Festival. 

Acceptable forms of proof of vaccination include your CDC record/card, a picture of the vaccination card or the CLEAR app, along with photo I.D. Children under the age of 12 are currently exempt from this requirement.

Masks are required at all times except when actively eating or drinking in the theater.  

All PFF screenings’ capacity will be reduced by 50%, with empty seats between each patron to ensure distancing.

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