The 15th annual Philadelphia Film Festival, opening March 30th has announced a new programming focus this year on films for families and films about music. The festival, which runs through April 11th, will show a total of 231 films from 41 countries; 115 features, 30 full-length documentaries and 86 live-action and animated shorts, the festival has unveiled.
The special new segment, Lights! Camera! Music! will showcase 11 features and documentaries that focus on various aspects of the music world. The films range from Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe's "Brothers of the Head" about Siamese twins turned rock n'roll sensation in the 1970s, to Lian Lunson's documentary, "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man," profiling the legendary singer-songwriter. Four films that cater to young people and their parents will also screen during the festival's family focus. They include, Mitra Sen's "The Peace Tree"; Wil Shriner's "Hoot," about a boy who tries to protect endangered owls in his new town in Florida; and Pearse Elliott's "Mighty Celt, a film set in Ireland about a 14-year-old who is captured by the world of greyhound racing.
Actor Laurence Fishburne will be a special guest at the opening night of the festival where he will introduce his film, "Akeelah and the Bee," by Doug Atchison. Atchison will also be in attendance opening night. "Nicole Holofcener's "Friends With Money" will close out the festival in Philadelphia. Holofcener's film was the opening night film at the Sundance Film Festival this year.
The festival line up is arranged according to thematic focuses. Of particular note is the Cinema of the Muslim Worlds, which has been a signature focus at the festival. A majority of the ten films in the category this year focus on women in Muslim society, like Tahmineh Milani's "The Unwanted Woman." The festival will also screen the first gay-themed film in the history of this focus, Ahmed Imamovic's "Go West," Another signature focus at the festival is Danger After Dark, which explores the topic of "genre" film. Four of the films screening are from the United Kingdom and are all part of the horror genre. They include: Neil Marshall's "The Descent"; Jake West's "Evil Aliens"; Billy O'Brien's "Isolation"; and Craig Stratchan's "Wild Country."
The festival will also showcase a number of films that have regional ties. Producer Lee Daniels, will make his directorial debut with "Shadowboxer,' and Philadelphia native Susan Speidelman will present her new film, "Boynton Beach Club." Another festival highlight will be the Artistic Achievement Award in Acting, which will be presented to Susan Surandon, who will hold a question-answer session with the audience.
For a complete list of films and special events, visit the festival website.