by Jaime Davis, The Fixer
Whoaaaaaaaaa, have you spied this year’s PFF lineup? It’s amazingly, particularly, spectacularly exciting. Why am I extra pumped for this year’s showings? Mostly because programmers have changed things up a bit - instead of just showstopping opening and closing night films this year, they’ve added a slate of special Gala films, much in the same way TIFF is programmed, adding more spectacle throughout the run of the fest. Many of the Gala presentations are high-profile titles recently screened at Cannes, TIFF, Telluride, Venice, and Fantastic Fest, making for a particularly energizing festival. But maybe you want to prioritize more offbeat fare this year? No matter what strategy you employ, we have you covered. Below is your guide to the big names coming to PFF for their 28th installment, along with MJ’s official, more quirky, selections. Happy festivaling!
For festival tickets, info, and to view a PDF of the program, head over to the PFS website.
The Big Guns
PFF programmers did indeed pull out all the stops this year. There is not one but two opening night films to choose from: the absolutely wild Palme d’Or winning Parasite and the electric Just Mercy. While the former is a must-see because it’s apparently b-a-t-s-h-i-t, the latter is ALSO a must-watch. Based on Bryan Stevenson’s nonfiction account of his work as an attorney working to overturn false convictions of death row inmates, the film is heart-breakingly written and acted, and just profoundly devastating. Profiling the institutional racism within the US criminal justice system (and beyond), it’s critical viewing for all. The film’s screenwriter along with cast members will accompany Bryan Stevenson for a Q&A after the screening. It’s mostly sold out at this point, so if you’ve already purchased your tickets, you’re in luck! If not, your only option left may be to rush come the day of the showing.
At the close of the fest we have Rian Johnson’s hotly anticipated, hotly casted Knives Out, featuring a Q&A with none other than Johnson himself (also mostly sold out). But will his wife Karina Longworth, host of addictive podcast You Must Remember This be with him? Inquiring minds wanna know.
The rest of the Gala showings include some potential heavy hitters this fall movie season: Waves, Jojo Rabbit, The Two Popes, Marriage Story, Harriet (starring the amazing, the wonderful Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman) and Motherless Brooklyn. Oh and a little movie called The Irishman by newcomer Martin Scorsese. A couple other big name films recently making the festival rounds popping up at PFF are Seberg (starring my girl Kristen Stewart) and The Report (another Adam Driver movie! I love Adam Driver!).
So you know about all the big names coming to the fest, but why not check out something different? Here are the films we've either loved at TIFF and Fantastic Fest this year, or are looking forward to seeing the most at PFF.
Juha is an overworked, harried single father whose wife passed away unexpectedly many years prior. When his teen daughter, Elli, asks to get her tongue pierced for her birthday and Juha obliges, he comes in contact with the fierce dominatrix, Mona. Their chance meeting sets off something quite unique and pained, yet surprisingly lovely. What appears to be a chilling psychological exploration of grief and BDSM turns out to be a highly sensitive and beautiful love story.
Wed 10/23 | 8:30 pm | Ritz East
Fri 10/25 | 9:15 pm | Ritz Five
Actor Shia LeBeouf’s screenwriting debut is also a semi-autobiographical tale of a young actor’s relationship with his abusive father and the ramifications of said abuse as he matures and his acting career progresses. Reviews have been quite strong and many have found LaBeouf’s script quite beautiful, while performances by Noah Jupe, Lucas Hedges, and LaBeouf equally winning.
Sat 10/26 | 8:45 pm | PFC
Marianne is an artist sent to paint the portrait of Lady Héloïse, who is set to marry a wealthy man in Milan. The portrait will help the man decide whether or not he wants to marry her. Lady Héloïse has refused to be painted by three other painters, until Marianne comes along and acts as her companion, painting only at night and from memory. The result is a timeless love story from acclaimed writer/director Céline Sciamma. Winner of the Queer Palm at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Sat 10/19 | 3:00 pm | Ritz East
Sat 10/26 | 3:00 pm | Ritz East
The Georgia National Ballet is the backdrop for And Then We Danced, a story of two dancers in competition with each other. When their relationship grows into much more, the two must navigate treacherous waters in a country where LGBTQ relationships are not publicly accepted or physically safe.
Fri 10/18 | 12:00 pm | Ritz East
Sat 10/19 | 5:30 pm | Ritz East
A budding actress is cast in a hot new film, only to spiral out of control after abuse sets her on a psychological bender. Nina Wu looks like a striking shakedown of celebrity culture and the frightening power influence and money have over those with little of either.
Sat 10/19 | 9:45 pm | Ritz Five
Tues 10/22 | 1:15 pm | Ritz Five
A young wife languishes in the picture perfect home she shares with her patronizing husband, endures constant jabs from her horrible mother-in-law, and remains mostly bored and idle. That is until a compulsion for consuming non-food items sends her on a quest of self-discovery and rebellion within her comfortable confines. A stylish, terrifying thriller using Pica disorder as metaphor for current gender dynamics at play. This one is sure to be insaneeeee.
Sun 10/20 | 8:00 pm | Ritz Five
Mon 10/21 | 12:45 pm | Ritz Five
Two teens in 1950’s New Mexico stumble upon a foreign radio frequency that has them sure something very, very strange is going on. For fans of science fiction and 1950’s nostalgia alike.
Thurs 10/24 | 8:15 pm | Ritz Five
Sat 10/26 | 8:45 pm | Ritz Five
Varda’s final film is a unique documentary which finds the filmmaker commenting on her life via lecture tours she’s done in the USA and France. As in previous works, Varda touches on feminism in her work, her interest in social justice, her late husband Jacques Demy, and her visual artwork.
Sun 10/20 | 12:15 pm | Ritz East
Leftover Women boldly profiles three Chinese women, aged 28 to 36 who are considered “leftover” in their country because they have yet to marry. The women endure constant societal pressure and even backlash as they participate in government-sponsored dating and marriage markets and contract with matchmakers. An intimate look at the frustrating expectations for women from a Chinese perspective.
Fri 10/18 | 3:00 pm | Ritz Five
Sun 10/27 | 3:00 pm | Ritz Five
A startling and exhilarating glimpse at a not-so-normal day in the life of an Indian village: things go awry when the butcher’s bull escapes, leaving nothing but chaos in its wake as it manages to outrun everyone. By the time a controversial hunter is brought in to catch the bull, the villagers have all gone quite mad in their quest. An engaging look at traditional patriarchal norms as filtered via a backdrop of mayhem and destruction.
Fri 10/18 | 7:30 pm | Ritz East
Sun 10/27 | 8:00 pm | Ritz East