At first glance, the Philadelphia Film Festival’s opening night feature, “Black Swan,” might seem an odd match for the city. But the much-anticipated film — starring Natalie Portman as an obsessive ballerina with a dark side in New York — fits right in with executive director J. Andrew Greenblatt’s mission.
“We are the Philadelphia Film Festival, and we do like to embrace our local ties,” he says. “But it’s a two-fold mission: We feature Philadelphia films, and we bring the best films in the world to Philadelphia.”
This year’s festival does just that, with other buzzed-about titles such as Sundance darling “Blue Valentine” and set-in-Philly “Night Catches Us” (bonus points for a Roots soundtrack), a showcase of new French films, a 10th-anniversary screening of “Unbreakable” with M. Night Shyamalan and a particularly healthy documentary showcase.
For Marc Erlbaum, the festival was the natural choice to premiere “Cafe,” his new film starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jamie Kennedy. It takes place in West Philly mainstay the Green Line Cafe, where Erlbaum wrote it.
“It’s great to show it in front of a hometown crowd — a lot of the crew and some of the cast is here,” says Erlbaum, who lives on the Main Line. “It was written in a cafe in Philadelphia, it was shot in a cafe in Philadelphia — it just felt right to show it here.”
Although Greenblatt doesn’t want to pick favorites, he does recommend seeing “Blue Valentine” — starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams — as it was intended. After receiving an NC-17 rating, it will be edited to qualify as R when it gets a wide release. Oct. 15 and 16
‘The Best and the Brightest’
Remember when Neil Patrick Harris was running around Rittenhouse Square? Check back tomorrow for our chat with “The Best and the Brightest” director Josh Shelov, who is premiering the film this weekend with what he calls a “homecoming.” Oct. 16, 18, and 24
No shortage of characters on this set
It may have Hollywood stars, but “Cafe” was inspired by a cast of characters only Philly could have produced:
“What’s so amazing about West Philly and the Green Line is the incredible cast of characters that come through it. It was just unbelievable: seemingly homeless guys coming in barefoot and just every member of society coming through that space.” –Marc Erlbaum