A Beginner’s Guide To The 21st Annual Philadelphia Film Festival, 11-Days Packed With More Than 100 Films From 35 Countries, October 18-28

Philadelphia Film Festival

Now in its 21st year, the Philadelphia Film Festival is the region’s largest and most notable celebration of cinema. For 11-days, the city will be teeming with fantastic screenings from around the globe, discussions with notable directors and actors, insider parties and marquis events.

Produced by the Philadelphia Film Society, the Philadelphia Film Festival is your best and often only chance to see incredible and important films on the big screen.

Whether you’re a die-hard cinephile or you fear movies with subtitles, Uwishunu’s Beginner’s Guide to the Philadelphia Film Festival will help you plan your cinematic journey. We’ve combed through every guide to give you our most anticipated films, best ways to get tickets, how to manage your screening schedule and get the most out of the festival.

Have something you’re looking forward to or a tip of your own? Let us know in the comments, below.

Where to Watch

The most important aspect of any film festival is the screen itself. With a small group of movie theaters to choose from in downtown Philadelphia, its easy to get from one screening to the next. Looking to get from the Ritz to the Rave? Make sure you get some tokens and hop on SEPTA’s EL for a quick trip across the city.

 • Ritz East, 125 South 2nd Street

 • Ritz at the Bourse, 400 Ranstead Street

 • Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street

 • Zellerbach Theater at the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street

 • Rave University City 6, 4012 Walnut Street

 • Gershwin Y, 401 South Broad Street

 • Shoemaker Green at Penn, 33rd & Spruce Street (Outdoor Screening)

Opening/Closing Night Festivities

Get a taste of red carpets, bright lights and celebrity appearances at the opening and closing night screenings held at the Annenberg Zellerbach Theater located at 3680 Walnut Street in University City.

This year, the Philadelphia Film Festival opens on October 19 with David O. Russell’s (The Fighter, Three Kings) Philadelphia-based drama Silver Linings Playbook starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Prepare your questions in advance for a Q&A with Russell and there are rumblings Mr. Cooper himself may be hanging out at the theater.

After the screening, rub elbows with industry professionals and fellow film-goers at the opening night party at R2L Restaurant.

On October 27, the festival comes to an end with a special awards ceremony followed by a screening of director Robert Zemeckis’ highly anticipated return to live-action filmmaking, Flight starring Denzel Washington.

Party into the night and relieve your festival memories during a Halloween-themed soirée at Sigma Sound Entertainment at 212 N. 12th Street.

Special Guests and Appearances

The Philadelphia Film Festival offers an incredible opportunity to learn about the challenges and triumphs of filmmaking from seasoned veterans behind and in front of the camera. Among the notable names scheduled to appear are: Director David O. Russel (October 18), director M. Night Shamalan (October 26), and director Robert Zemeckis (October 27).

Get ticket information, our top festival picks and more, below.


Festival tickets and passes can be purchased online or at the Philadelphia Film Festival box office at the Prince Music Theater on 1412 Chestnut Street. Box office hours are Monday-Friday from noon-6p.m. and Saturday from noon-4p.m.

Tickets are sold at the box office up to 30 minutes before showtime. Within 30 minutes of the screening, tickets can be purchased directly at the venue.

Insider tip: Is your film of choice sold out? If available, a limited number of rush tickets will be sold 15 minutes prior to the screening. Tickets are full price, cash only ($5 for students with I.D.) and are first-come, first-served.

Individual Ticket Prices

$12 Regular screenings | PFS Members $10

$6 Weekday matinee screenings (screenings before 5pm) | PFS Members $5

Buy tickets online right here.

Passes and Badges

Get the full festival experience with a silver, gold or platinum badge. Get access to every film, every party, the VIP Lounge and more throughout the festival.

Don’t have time for screenings during the week? No worries, the new Weekend Badge offers you access to screenings Thursday-Sunday for either weekend during the festival.

Badges start at $165. Learn more and purchase badges online right here.

Festival VIP Lounge

Filmmakers, industry professionals and select badge holders can relax and refresh at the Festival VIP Lounge at 110 Chestnut Street in Old City. Enjoy cocktails, light bites and special events throughout the festival. Check out the VIP Lounge hours right here.

Festival Categories

With more than 100 films from 35 countries, it can be a little daunting to find film that is right for you. Fortunately, festival screenings have been split up into more than a dozen helpful categories.

 • Centerpiece Screenings: Be the first to see these future hits and award-winners before they hit theaters. Our Picks: Cloud Atlas, Hyde Park on the Hudson, Not Fade Away

 • From the Vaults: Get a second chance to see classic films as they were meant to be seen-on the big screen. Our Picks: Lost Highway, The Shining, Signs, Poltergeist, Punch-Drunk Love

 • Spotlights: Hot off the festival circuit, these films feature top-name talent and big buzz. Our Picks: A Late Quartet, The Sessions, Shanghai

 • Masters of Cinema: Expect the unexpected from these world-renowned filmmakers. Our Picks: The Everything Will Be Okay Trilogy, Holy Motors, Reality

 • World Narratives: Shake your fear of subtitles and get a window into creative process of incredible international filmmakers. Our Picks: Everybody in Our Family, Terraferma, Tey

 • New French Films: France continues to innovate and influence the world of cinema with style and substance. Our Picks: Aliyah, Sister

 • Spanish Language Cinema: The riveting world of Spanish-language film has garnered praise for personal stories and unique perspectives. Our Picks: After Lucia, Here and There

 • American Independents: Discover fresh points of few and strong new voices in American film. Bonus: Get free tickets to these films as part of the “PFF On Us” program. Call 267-908-4733 or get more information right here. Our Picks: The Comedy, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, Somebody Up There Likes Me

 • Greater Filmadelphia: Philly-filmmakers represent. Support local talent and creativity in this homegrown category. Our Picks: Detonator, Future Weather, This Time Tomorrow

 • Documentary Showcase: Truth is said to be stranger than fiction. Explore personal stories and the odder side of life in these documentary features. Our Picks: The American Scream, The Final Member, Room 237, We Are Legion: The Story of Hacktivists

 • Sight & Soundtrack: Highlighting the power of music, these films crank it up to 11. Our Picks: A Band Called Death, Beware of Mr. Baker, The History of Future Folk

 • Sports in Motion: It’s hard not to get inspired as you celebrate the drama, the intensity and the personal accomplishment of athletes on and off the field. Our Picks: The Good Son, Teddy Bear

 • The Graveyard Shift: Have a strong stomach and an open mind from some of the festival’s most intense and intriguing films. Just don’t expect to get a restful night of sleep afterwards. Our Picks: The ABCs of Death, Antiviral, I Declare War, John Dies at the End

Full Festival Guide

Plan your day-by-day festival schedule, see what other festival goers are watching and learn more about the films being shown over the 11-day event right here.

21st Annual Philadelphia Film Festival

When: October 19-28

Where: Locations Vary

Cost: Varies

More info: www.filmadelphia.org


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