Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller set in the competitive world of ballet and starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Winona Ryder, will open the 19th annual Philadelphia Film Festival on Oct. 14. 127 Hours, Danny Boyle's true-life tale of the adventurer Aron Ralston (James Franco), who cuts off his arm to save himself, will be the festival's closing-night movie on Oct. 23.
In between Aron and Aronofsky, some 108 films will show at six venues in the region, from the Ritz Five to the Prince Music Theater to the Zellerbach Theater at the University of Pennsylvania to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. Among the highlights of the festival, which brings some of the best of the Sundance and Cannes festivals to Philadelphia, are Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, this year's Cannes Palme d'Or winner from Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul; White Material, Claire Denis' account of French colonials running a coffee plantation in an unnamed African country; and Carlos, Olivier Assayas' six-hour portrait of infamous assassin "Carlos the Jackal."
A marathon screening on Oct. 17 of the Millennium Trilogy - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (slated to open in Philadelphia a week-and-a-half later) - will delight Stieg Larsson completists. And fans of M. Night Shyamalan will enjoy the Oct. 21 screening of Unbreakable, his third feature, and the post-screening Q&A with the director.
Other promising features include Night Catches Us, Tanya Hamilton's portrait of African American life in Philadelphia during the '70s; 11/4/08, a documentary mosaic about the run-up to the 2008 presidential election; Fair Game, with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn; and Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami's film about originals and forgeries.
Apart from Night Catches Us, other festival films with Philadelphia connections are The Best and the Brightest, a story of parents trying to get their kids admitted to elite schools, in which Philadelphia locations sub for New York, and OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar Asperger's Movie, Bud Clayman's essay film about his struggles with mental health.
See www.filmadelphia.org for further information.
Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at 215-854-5402 or crickey@ phillynews.com. Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http://www.philly. com/philly/blogs/flickgrrl/