News Column

'All Is Lost': Film Festival finds its opener

October 16, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 16--FOLKS at the Philadelphia Film Festival can't stop talking about their opener, "All Is Lost," which is weird, because in the movie nobody really talks.

"All Is Lost," which kicks off the festival tomorrow night, at the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center, stars Robert Redford as a solo sailor surviving storms at sea.

Redford has virtually no dialogue and no co-stars, not even a volleyball or an imaginary tiger.

So, at first glance, "All Is Lost" seems a strange choice to ignite excitement for the two-week festival, which runs through Oct. 27 and features more than 100 movies from dozens of countries (11 chosen by their home nations to vie for Oscars.)

But "Lost" only seems like a strange choice, said film festival executive director Andrew Greenblatt, if you haven't seen it.

"It's a riveting movie, and holds its intensity for 100-plus minutes. It's really so well done," Greenblatt said. "We're so excited to have it -- it didn't play many places, and [the studio] has been very restrictive about where it would play."

"All Is Lost" director J.C. Chandor will attend the premiere, in keeping with the festival's ongoing mission to connect audiences with filmmakers. There will be dozens of actors and directors on hand to meet audiences and to talk about their films -- including Oscar winner Alexander Payne for his new movie, "Nebraska," now screening at 7 p.m. Monday at the Prince Music Theater. Star Will Forte also will attend, although co-star Bruce Dern, a special honoree, will not.

Jonathan Demme will return to the city to host a screening of his groundbreaking work, "Philadelphia," on Tuesday, at the Prince -- the movie will be exhibited in its original 35 mm. So, too, will another repertory film -- Terrence Malick's "Days of Heaven," a rare opportunity for buffs.

"They say it's the most beautiful movie ever made," Greenblatt said. "And this is the way it was meant to be seen. I don't know that people in this area will ever have a chance to see it like this again."

He said that folks who have the printed festival guide need to know of some last-minute changes and additions (find them online at filmadelphia.org/festival). As noted, "Nebraska" has moved to Monday, and its original place, Saturday, is now held by the Oscar-hyped "12 Years a Slave," featuring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in a harrowing drama based on an 1853 memoir.

The festival program closes on Friday, Oct. 25, with Jason Reitman's "Labor Day" (starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin) but will run for two added days as the popular movies, as chosen by the audience, are re-exhibited on Oct. 25 and 26 at festival venues, which this year include the Prince, International House and Ritz theaters.

As usual, the festival will give local audiences an early peek at possible Oscar contenders and awards-season titles -- in addition to "All Is Lost," "Nebraska" and "12 Years a Slave," there are: "August: Osage County" (Saturday), with Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and a breakout performance from Julianne Nicholson; the new Errol Morris documentary, "The Unknown Known" (Friday), about Donald Rumsfeld; Judi Dench in Stephen Frears' "Philomena" (Oct. 23); and Roger Michel's "Le Week-End" (Oct. 26), starring Jim Broadbent.

Another big-buzz title is "Blue Is the Warmest Color" (Sunday, Tuesday), a love story between a woman (Lea Seydoux) and a teenage girl that became a sensation at Cannes for its sexual candor.

Greenblatt said some of his personal favorites are flying a bit below the radar -- the Dutch film "Borgman" (Monday and Oct. 23), about a home invasion with a strange twist, and "Coherence" (Tuesday and Oct. 24), an offbeat U.S. sci-fi movie that has yet to get distribution, so this may be your only chance to see it in theaters.

Greenblatt said he and his staff are particularly proud of this year's Greater Filmadelphia section, featuring local talent and regional locations -- Tommy Oliver's "1982" (Oct. 27), set in the early days of the crack epidemic; "The Discoverers" (Oct. 25, 26), about the early days of the Lewis and Clark expedition; "Let the Fire Burn" (Monday and Oct. 26), a documentary that reassembles the MOVE ordeal with archival news footage; David Morse in the cop drama "McCanick" (Oct. 26, 27), featuring the final screen appearance of Cory Monteith"; and "The Suspect" (Saturday and Oct. 26), which Greenblatt praised as a racially charged movie with clever narrative structure.

The section also includes the documentary "Town Hall" (Oct. 23, 26), billed as a different take on the tea party. Most of this year's docs and American independents will be screened for free, first-come, first-served -- one of several initiatives that the festival found success with last year and will expand this year.

Other repeat initiatives include an education section, inviting local students to meet with filmmakers. For the party minded, the organizers have brought back the Festival Lounge, 110 Chestnut St., second floor, where all-access badge holders can rub elbows with visiting talent.

And perhaps drink this year's special film festival beer, brewed by Dock Street.

Information about this year's festival, including ticket information, can be found at filmadelphia.org/festival.

Blog: philly.com/KeepItReel

Online: ph.ly/Movies

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(c)2013 the Philadelphia Daily News

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