Coming up in Philly film: Black History Month, female superheroes, and more

A still from 1930's 'Borderline,' screening at Lightbox Film Center on February 14. (Image via IMDB.com.)

We’re in the home stretch of winter, but the Philly film scene has plenty to warm you up in the latter half of February.

At long last, Black Panther, the first Marvel Comics franchise movie to star a mostly African-American cast, arrives on Thursday, February 15, at theaters nationwide. Co-written and directed by Ryan Coogler and starring breakout actors Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, the film is already crushing box-office presales records. Better buy in advance if you want a seat during Philly's opening weekend.

Films at Lightbox

Starting this week, Lightbox Film Center and Penn Cinema Studies will copresent a series of screenings and lectures that delve into the concept of “race films.” For the first half of the 20th century, the film industry was as racially segregated as most of American culture, and “race films” were motion pictures that starred African Americans in leading roles from the 1910s to 1940s. On Wednesday, February 14, the presenters offer Borderline (1930), a groundbreaking film about an interracial love triangle against the backdrop of a Swiss mountain village. On Wednesday, February 21, check out The Watermelon Woman (1996), a “fake documentary” starring Philly-based director Cheryl Dunye “as a fictionalized version of herself.” The story, melding contemporary and historical plotlines, follows a black lesbian filmmaker “captivated by an elusive, queer 1930s black film actress.” Both events start at 7pm and are free to the public (RSVP requested online).  

Exhumed Films will present another fascinating retrospective at Lightbox Film Center: Rock'n'Roll Nightmares starts at 7:30pm on Friday, February 23. This triple feature of music-related 35mm horror flicks (1980’s Terror on Tour, 1986’s Trick or Treat, and 1980’s New Year’s Evil) runs back to back. Genre fans will not want to miss this mixture of schlocky slasher and Metalsploitation (not to mention the fabulous guest cameo appearances by Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne in Trick or Treat). Tickets cost $20 and are available online.

Japanese film

On February 20, PhilaMOCA will continue its monthly Tokusatsu Tuesday series. Tokusatsu is a catchall term that refers to Japanese films and television programs with special effects, but it usually describes movies with giant Godzilla-like monsters or costumed superheroes (think Power Rangers). February’s program will include episodes from four different all-female superhero shows. Tickets are $5 and the show starts at 7PM.

If you’re looking for something different, try the midnight screening of psychedelic Japanese animated film Mind Game (2004) on Friday, February 23, at Ritz at the Bourse (scheduled to start at 11:59pm). Starring comedian Koji Imada (Hibana: Spark) this unconventional anime tells a trippy tale involving yakuza assassins, life after death, and a World Cup soccer star. Tickets ($10.25) are available online.

Something new and something old(ish)

The Philadelphia Film Society launches a free monthly showcase of works by local filmmakers at the Prince Music Theater on Thursday, February 22, at 7:30pm. The Philly Film Showcase offers a great opportunity for filmmakers to receive feedback from local audiences on their finished films and works in progress, and a chance for film aficionados to get an insider look at content production.

Finally, for you nostalgia fans, the Trocadero is showing Spice World (1997) at the Balcony on Monday, February 26, at 8pm. The $5 admission price includes free popcorn or beer. 

Above: Catch Trick or Treat at Lightbox on February 23. (Image via IMDB.)

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