Spring is here, and the city of Philadelphia is awash in things that you probably don’t have time for because you’re stressing about finals. Food festivals, concerts, beer gardens, and more—we know you’re hitting “Interested” on Facebook when you have no intention of going. We see you. But if you can spare two hours, consider going to at least one event: SpringFest.
The Philadelphia Film Society holds the Philadelphia Film Festival every year in the fall, bringing buzzworthy independent films from artists across the world to Philly, and in the past few years, they’ve also been holding SpringFest—a shorter springtime festival that still allows an impressive number of new films make their Philadelphia debut.
This year's SpringFest is running from April 27–29. A limited number of Student Rush Tickets ($7) are released at showtime in person for those with a valid student ID. The Rush line forms 30 minutes before showtime and is cash only.
If you’re stressing during finals and want to get into the city to catch a movie—you won’t need to travel far for some amazing films.
What to watch for: Hamilton alumni, hip–hop, social commentary
The opening night selection of SpringFest, Blindspotting will have Tony winner and Hamilton star Daveed Diggs coming to Philadelphia to participate in a Q&A, but that’s far from the only reason to be excited about it. Blindspotting is one of the strangest–sounding and most promising picks of SpringFest. Diggs and Rafael Casal have written a fast–paced story about an interracial friendship between two men who work together as movers in Oakland. Their friendship, and what they know about America, is tested when they witness a police shooting and have to navigate the aftermath together.
What to watch for: Bo Burnham, a millennial coming–of–age comedy
You might know Bo Burnham from a number of comedic arenas—his Vines (RIP), his comedy specials like what., and guest spots on Parks and Recreation and The Big Sick. But for Eighth Grade, Burnham has undertaken a completely different project by stepping behind the camera to write and direct what promises to strike a sweet and tender note. Eighth Grade tells the story of Kayla (Elsie Fisher), an adolescent girl pegged as “shy and quiet” in school. Struggling to find her voice and her sense of self, she uploads videos on YouTube where she tries to capture the details and make sense of her life. It’s been getting rave reviews since it premiered at Sundance, and since we have working hearts and plenty of our own awkward middle school memories, we’re excited to see if it lives up to the hype.
What to watch for: forbidden love, tension between sexuality and religion, Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams
The independent industry and festival scene have blessed us with some of the best lesbian films of recent years. For SpringFest, fans of LGBT cinema have no need to be disappointed, because they’re screening Disobedience and it looks so damn good. Sebastián Lelio, who directed last year’s Oscar–winning A Fantastic Woman, is back with a film that explores secrecy, sexuality, belief, and conformity. The story of a woman (Rachel Weisz) who, having once been ostracized from her Orthodox Jewish community for engaging in a love affair with another woman (Rachel McAdams), returns home after the death of her father to find her old flame married—but can’t keep her old feelings from returning.
What to watch for: a heavy dose of inspiration
There are a lot of people out there who stand for Ruth Bader Ginsburg (including, I’m sure, more than a few Street readers). There's a veritable cult of personality around the Supreme Court Justice, and she’s regarded as a liberal legal titan, a feminist icon, and generally . RBG is a documentary that capitalizes on and explores Ginsburg’s status as a cultural phenomenon, exploring how she went from a bright young lawyer being turned away from a job opportunity because of her gender, to one of the most loved figures of the American Left.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
What to watch for: puppets, singing, and a reminder that good people exist
Another biographical film coming to SpringFest is about another individual who’s been elevated to hero status in a much different way, and who might even be more beloved: Mr. Fred Rogers. The seminary–student–turned–television–host made millions of American childhoods brighter, and every story I’ve ever read about his life makes him sound like a modern day saint, both too good for this world and exactly what it needed—like Batman in a sweater. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? endeavors to explore the man’s life and legacy with the same warmth he brought to the projects he undertook in his life—and we can’t wait to watch it.