CineFest 2011: Watch both ways

As the founder of CineFest, Ray Murray makes it his job to scour the international film scene for rare gems, those obscure films that may never otherwise find an audience in the city. “My goal is to find things that, for the most part, don’t end up being shown in Philadelphia again,” he says. “People are always eager to see something that’s a find, and we make that our mission.”

And there are plenty of finds this year: Among the more than 60 films screening, 17 countries are represented in a festival that includes two world premieres.

Of course, these are not all art-house flicks for card-carrying cinephiles. Artistic director Josh Goldbloom is out to throw a party, beginning with opening night feature “The Catechism Cataclysm,” in which the guys behind “Pineapple Express” and “Eastbound and Down” explore what happens when an exiled priest drops his Bible down the toilet and has to rely on his instincts during a canoe trip. “Those f—ing guys, man,” says Goldbloom in giddy admiration. “It’s just a wild, stoner film — it really, truly is the most bats— insane funny movie I’ve ever seen.”

A selection of films screening:

‘Lapland Odyssey’
Murray digs this “really funny rogue movie in the darkness and frozen tundra of Finland.” (April 8, 9:45 p.m.; April 11, 7:30 p.m., Ritz East)

Because you can’t go to a film festival without seeing at least one subtitled French flick — and this one features a ton of big names to drop. (April 9, 7 p.m., Ritz East)

Tony Jaa Fest
In honor of the cult martial-arts star, all three of his “Ong Bak” films will be screened for free at the Piazza. Goldbloom’s ultimate goal: For the man himself to make an appearance — whether it’s at this premiere or at the 25th annual Tony Jaa Fest. (April 10, noon, the Piazza at Schmidt’s)

‘Cost of a Soul’
Sean Kirkpatrick’s debut film tells the story of two Iraq veterans who return home to the North Philadelphia they went to war to escape. (April 10, 7 p.m., Ritz East)

Follow Monica Weymouth on Twitter at @MonicaatMetro.

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