The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, the first and largest Bay Area film festival, starts Thursday and runs for the next two weeks
The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) turns 59 this year and kicks off this Thursday (April 21) at the historic Castro Theatre and runs for the next 14 days. This mammoth festival just keeps getting better and better. With 173 films and live events from 46 countries in 39 languages, and 200 filmmakers and industry guests attending, there is something for everyone. This year’s opener is Whit Stillman’s new romantic comedy, Love and Friendship, an adaptation of a Jane Austen novella, featuring actress Kate Beckinsale. Both Stillman [Metropolitan (1990), Barcelona (1994), The Last Days of Disco (1998), Damsels in Distress (2011)] and Beckinsale will be in attendance and conversation.
The big news is that, after nearly 30 years at Japantown’s Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, the festival is now headquartered at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Theatre, on Mission Street, between 21st and 22nd Streets, in San Francisco, and the energy of the neighborhood and the venue itself feels great. This wonderfully rejuvenated movie palace features state-of-the-art media delivery systems and a hopping standalone bar with superb cocktails, 27 beers on tap, gourmet snacks and will deliver both food and drink to you in your screening room. The theatres are all outfitted with luxurious seats and snack tables. On the down side, parking is hell, so plan accordingly. The festival takes place at several other local historic venues as well–the Roxie Theater, the Victoria and the Castro.
And, for those who have not yet visited Berkeley’s new BAMPFA, by all means go! Everything’s under one stunning brushed stainless steel Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed roof. The state-of-the-art Barbo Osher Theater has new technology enabling top-level clarity and sound for screening of a variety of film formats. Your film ticket will also get you into the museum where director Larry Rinder’s engaging inaugural exhibition, Architecture of Life, through May 29, 2016, explores the various ways that architecture illuminates our life experience. Babette Cafe, situated inside the museum and on the second floor, is open until 9 p.m. and offers a range of coffees, teas, delicious meals and pastries, all crafted from fresh local ingredients. AT BAMPAFA, there’s no food or drink allowed inside any of the galleries or the theater, so you’ll have to enjoy everything at Babette.
One of the joys of attending is getting to see these films the way they were meant to be seen—on a big screen with digital projection—and participating in stimulating Q&A’s with their directors and actors. With even more new onstage events and awards ceremonies that feature film luminaries in more lengthy moderated discussions, SFIFF delivers one of the highest ratios of face time with creative talent.
This Saturday (April 23), at the Victoria Theatre, Ellen Burstyn will receive the Peter J. Owens Award and spend the afternoon discussing her career and present Requiem for a Dream (2000). On Sunday (April 24), at the Castro, Mira Nair receives the Irving M. Levin Directing Award and spends an afternoon discussing her life and work, followed by a screening of Monsoon Wedding (2001). On Thursday (April 26), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight (2015)) receives the Kanbar Storytelling Award and is in conversation at BAMPFA, followed by a screening of his directorial debut film, The Station Agent (2003). On Saturday (April 30), at the Castro, Blood Simple directorial duo, Joel And Ethan Cohen, will be present for an afternoon screening of this wonderful 1984 debut feature while Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell of Janus Films and the Criterion Collection are awarded the Mel Novikoff Award.
Stay-tuned, shortly ARThound will overview the festival’s top films for armchair travelers, films that take us to remote villages in far flung places where age-old traditions are still practiced and the landscapes and cinematography will take your breath away.
SFIFF 59 details:
When: SFIFF 59 runs 14 days─ Thursday, April 21 – Thursday, May 5, 2016
Where: Alamo Drafthouse New Mission, 2550 Mission Street (Between 21st and 22nd Streets, San Francisco (main venue)
Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street., San Francisco (mostly big events, weekends)
Gray Area, 2665 Mission Street., San Francisco
Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street., San Francisco
Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th Street, San Francisco
BAMPFA (Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive), 2155 Center Street, Berkeley
Tickets: $15 most films, more for Special Events and Parties which generally start at $20 or $35. Passes—the popular CINEVOUCHER 10-pack ($140 general public and $120 for Film Society members) and the exclusive CINEVISA early admittance to every screening, party, and program (with exception of Film Society Awards Night). ($1350 Film Society members and $1700 general public). How to buy tickets—purchase online at www.festival.sffs.org or in person during the festival. Alamo Drafthouse is open daily from 11:30 a.m. onwards; all other venues are open for SFIFF purchases one hour before the first screening of the day.
Advance ticket purchases absolutely recommended as many screenings go to Rush. Click here to see which films are currently at rush (the list is updated frequently).
Arrive Early! Ticket and pass holders must arrive 15 minutes prior to show time to guarantee admission.
Day-of Noon Release Tickets: Each day of the Festival, tickets may be released for that day’s rush screenings. Pending availability, tickets may be purchased online or in person at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission starting at noon. Not all shows will have tickets released, and purchasing is first-come, first-served.
Rush tickets: Last-minute or rush tickets may be available on a first served basis to those waiting in line for cash only about 10 minutes before show time. If you want rush tickets, plan to line up at least 45 minutes prior to screening time. No rush tickets for screenings at BAMPFA
More info: For full schedule and tickets, visit http://www.sffs.org/sfiff59
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