The 27th Philadelphia Film Festival will kick off on Thursday, Oct. 18 with the addiction drama Ben is Back, starring Julia Roberts and rising star Lucas Hedges, heading a slate of more than 100 movies that will run 10 days, concluding with the documentary Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don't Know Me.
In between, the festival will feature foreign-language standouts, films featuring Philadelphia talent, documentaries and several movies that have generated Oscar buzz. The roster includes Widows, from director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), starring Viola Davis as a woman who plots a heist to pay off the debt of her dead husband; and Green Book, starring Mahershala Ali as a pianist touring the Jim Crow South in the 1950s, with a bouncer-turned-driver played by Viggo Mortensen.
Director Jason Reitman will attend the festival with his movie The Front Runner, an account of the scandal plagued presidential campaign of Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman). Festival goers will also get a sneak peek at the Roma, Alfonso Cuarón's big-buzz movie about the disintegration of a middle class Mexican family, seen through the eyes of the housemaid. Paul Dano will appear with his movie Wildlife, starring Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal as a husband and wife adapting to cultural changes in the 1960s.
We'll also get our first look at the long-delayed Kevin Hart film Upside, a remake of the French hit Intouchables, about a streetwise man who provides in home care for a cranky and disabled millionaire (Bryan Cranston). The film has only recently emerged from legal limbo — it had been one of the properties developed by the Weinstein Co., and was caught up in the company's financial collapse.
The festival will once again feature a Filmadelphia program featuring local talent, this year headlined by Her Smell, written and directed by Radnor native Alex Ross Perry. and starring Elizabeth Moss as a talented but abusive rock star.
The line-up includes also What They Had, starring Hilary Swank and Michael Shannon as brother and sister looking after a parent with dementia; Galveston (directed by Melanie Laurent) starring Ben Foster as a hitman on the run from the mob (with Elle Fanning); All Square a comedy about a gambler with a scheme to get back to even by betting on little league baseball, and You Can Choose Your Family, about a teen who discovers her dad (Jim Gaffigan) is a bigamist with another family.
The selection of foreign language films includes the Cannes Palm D'or winner Shoplifters, from Japan, and Dogman, from Italian director Matteo Garrone, who helmed Gomorrah.
The official festival dates are Oct. 18 through Oct. 28. Screenings take place at Ritz East (125 S. 2nd St), Ritz Five (214 Walnut St.) and Philadelphia Film Center (formerly Prince Theater) (1412 Chestnut St.).
Information on tickets, passes and screenings can be found at www.filmadelphia.org.