Cinefest: Top Film Picks

So, as we alluded to earlier, Philly is now the proud home of two large, international film festivals. It just so happens that one of them not-so-neatly coincides with the huge, encompassing PIFA Festival, which also opens tonight. So what is a healthy patron of the arts to do? We can't make it totally easy on you -- there are some truly tough choices you're going to have to make over the next seven days -- but we can at least highlight some of the most intriguing prospects at this year's Cinefest, one from each of their main categories, and you can make your decisions from there.

Centerpiece Screenings: Their big-budget, ready for the big-time films.
Our Pick: The Interrupters
Director Steve James, who also made the absorbing Hoop Dreams, filmed this doc about former Chicago gang members trying to diffuse the violence in their neighborhoods. It is on the long side (162 minutes) but sounds absolutely riveting.
When/Where/Tix: April 10 at the Ritz East, 2:00 p.m., $10

World Focus: International films from every nook and cranny of the globe.
Our Pick: Incendies
A French Canadian film by director Denis Vellenueve about a pair of Arab-Canadian twins seeking the truth about their dead mother's life, as they travel to her home country in the Middle East, the film is scored by Radiohead, if you need further inducement.
|When/Where/Tix: April 8 at the Ritz East, 7:00 p.m., $10

The Documentary Tradition: Nonfiction stories from the U.S. and beyond.
Our Pick: Project Nim
Fresh off its Sundance Opening Night screening, the doc by James Marsh (Man on a Wire), tells the story of a misguided Columbia prof who sets up a 26-year experiment to raise a chimpanzee almost entirely by human beings.
When/Where/Tix: April 12 at Ritz East, 12:30 p.m.; April 13 at the Ritz East, 12:00 p.m., $10

American Independents: Small films that can carry enormous potential.
Our Pick: Ceremony
Much of the buzz is about the director, Max Winkler (Fonzi's son), but his debut feature, a smart bittersweet comedy about a young man attempting to infiltrate a tony Long Island wedding in order to be with the bride, is surprisingly surehanded.
When/Where/Tix: April 9 at the Ritz East, 7:30 p.m., $10

Festival of Independents: Local filmmakers' showcase.
Our Pick: Cost of a Soul
Philly native Sean Kirkpatrick's film about two Iraq War vets who return home to North Philly only to find more violence and bloodshed than they experienced in combat, sounds suitably serious and thought-provoking.
When/Where/Tix: April 10 at the Ritz East, 7:00 p.m., $10

Action Asia: Martial arts, advanced weaponry, balletic beat downs.
Our Pick: Tony Jaa Fest
The prospect of seeing all three Ong Bak films back-to-back should make even jaded action movie fans tremble with excitement. That they're being screened outdoors at the Piazza with free live martial arts demos thrown in should seal the deal.
When/Where/Tix: April 10 at the Piazza, 12:00 p.m., Free

Danger After Dark: The notorious, twisted underbelly of the Fest.
Our Pick: The Woman
In a category that typically features the most controversial and harshest films of the entire festival, this bizarre and scandalously rough-hewn film from Lucky McKee, about a feral woman captured and imprisoned by a family in their basement, stands out as the single-most shocking film in this year's catalog. Absolutely NOT for the faint of heart, but if you're going to see any film from this category, you'd better be prepared for it.
When/Where/Tix: April 13 at the Ritz East, 9:30 p.m.; April 14 athe Ritz East, 2:30 p.m., $10

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