Philadelphia’s crowded film festival scene tends to peter out as the holidays approach, but don’t despair. Plenty of cinephiles around town will continue to share their indie, foreign, and cult favorites with the public between now and Christmas.
Take the venue-hopping nonprofit Cinema Ray, for whom it’s never a bad time to indulge in some classic horror. On November 25 — appropriately coinciding with Black Friday — the group will take to the Ruba Club to screen Dawn of the Dead, George A. Romero’s genre-defining zombie flick from 1978. Set in the Philly area, the film is arguably one of the most vicious critiques of American consumerism to emerge from the drive-in era.
The following week, on November 30, Cinema Ray will keep things going with It’s Alive, another 1970s grindhouse cut, directed by b-movie extraordinaire Larry Cohen. If your favorite part of the Chucky series was watching a tiny humanoid murderer, just wait until you see Cohen’s newborn mutant terrorize Los Angeles for 90 minutes. Tickets to either screening cost $8.
Cinema Ray will switch gears on November 26 when it shows the 1992 Robert Redford-narrated documentary, Incident at Oglala, at Eris Temple Arts in West Philly. This first screening in the group’s “Native American Voices” program, the doc investigates the mid-’70s shooting deaths of two FBI agents on a South Dakota reservation, as well as the thorniness of the subsequent criminal trial.
Scribe Video Center, which always seeks to educate budding filmmakers and the Philly public at large with hard-hitting screenings and workshops, will hit up the Widener Branch Library on December 3 to show The Great Migration: A City Transformed. Consisting of both audio and video components, the program documents the Great Migration between 1910 and 1930 as it shaped and changed Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.
Fun for the (overgrown) kids
On a lighter note: those of you in your mid-20s may remember when Pokémon: The First Movie hit theaters in 1998, probably because the news made you more excited than Christmas and Halloween combined. Well, on Monday November 21, the Trocadero will capitalize on the well-documented millennial thirst for nostalgia when it brings Ash, Brock, and Misty to the screen for Movie Monday. The event is 21-plus, though, so don’t expect to see any real kids turning out for the animated fun. Admission costs $3.
The Belgian duo of Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar caused a splash in the film world with its 2009 debut, A Town Called Panic. Based on a French-language TV show, this high-energy experiment in stop motion goes hard on the whimsy. The plot follows three toys (a horse, cowboy, and Indian) as they go on adventures and get caught up in all kinds of fantastical hijinks. On December 10, PhilaMOCA will show Aubier and Patar’s follow-up, A Town Called Panic: Double Fun. Each of the two films that make up Double Fun has a familiar theme: one is a Christmas special, and the other has a back-to-school conceit. But I suspect the jokes, tone, and pacing will be anything but cliché. Tickets cost $10.