Geneva Anderson digs into art

The 65th SFFILM Festival is April 21-May 1: the program is online now and non-member tickets go on sale April 1

In celebration of the centennial anniversaries of SF Opera and the Castro Theatre, the 65th SFFILM Festival will offer a free community screening of John Else’s new documentary, “Land of Gold” (2021), that brings to life John Adams’ opera, “Girls of the Golden West,” which premiered at SFOpera in 2017, with libretto by Peter Sellars.  The revisionist opera is set in the days of the California Gold Rush, reworking poetic fantasies of striking it rich in the land of gold.  The documentary features the mesmerizing soprano Julia Bullock, along with John Adams, Paul Appleby, and the Kai brothers.  The free screening will be preceded by a performance by SFO’s Adler Fellows, an elite multi-year residency for opera’s most promising young artists.  Director John Else in attendance. Adler performance is Thursday, April 28, at 7:30 pm at the Castro; film screens at 7:45p.m.  Reserve free tickets now for SFFILM members and April 1 for general public.  Image: SFFILM

The legendary actress, Michelle Yeoh—star of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” “Supercop,” “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “The Lady,” “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” and many other films—will receive a special SFFILM tribute, hosted by Sandra Oh on Friday, April 29th, 6:00 pm CastroIn conjunction with the tribute, SFFILM is screening Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), Monday April 25, 7pm, at the Castro.   Who can forget the thrilling martial arts battles between nimble warriors Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat as they battled Ziyi Zhang to recover a powerful 400 year old sword, literally flying across the red-tiled roofs of their ancestral Chinese village.  Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture, it won four Oscars, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Score. Those who purchase a ticket to the film will receive a discount on the tribute.  Image: Thomas Laisne/Getty Images, Courtesy SFFILM)

The 65th SFFILM festival: 130 films (58 features, 5 mid-length films and 67 shorts), 56 countries, 16 world premieres. Fifty-six percent of the films are directed by female or non-binary filmmakers and 52 percent directed by BIPOC filmmakers.  Screenings will take place at venues across the Bay Area, including the Castro Theatre, Roxie Cinema, Victoria Theatre, Vogue Theatre, and UC Berkeley’s BAMPFA.

Full schedule, tickets for the 65th SFFILM Festival:

SFFILM member tickets on sale now; non-member tickets on sale, Friday, April 1, 10 a.m.

March 30, 2022 Posted by | Film, Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

27th San Francisco Int’l Asian American Film Festival

SFIAAFF March 12-22, 2009


It’s film festival season again but in this new economy, the operative term is downsize. The 27th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival opens today with a smaller than usual but exceptional program of 100+ new Asian American films. Fortunately, most of the financing was arranged last year before the crisis really kicked in, so most of the sponsorship was locked in.  Other festivals will not be so lucky.  I am particularly attached to SFIAFF because the programming is wonderfully diverse and the Center for Asian American Media (CAM) is actively involved in producing a lot of these films, so the screenings have a warm familial quality to them.  The festival takes place in San Francisco (Sundance Cinemas, Castro Theatre, and Landmark’s Clay Theater), Berkeley (Pacific Film Archive) and San Jose (Camera 12 Cinemas). Most of these films sell out early, so buy your tickets online in advance.  Here are ARThound’s picks:

The Festival opens with the world premiere of H.P. Mendoza’s exhilarating musical “Fruit Fly” which was shot in San Francisco.  Mendoza was the lead actor and director of “Colma: The Musical” which premiered at SFAAFF ’06.  “Fruit Fly” follows Bethesda, a Filipina performance artist-adoptee and “fag hag” as she navigates her own self discovery in song.  The term “Fruit Fly” is a softer, gentler interpretation of “fag hag” but Mendoza’s candid exploration of stereotyping and the impact of labels in the gay community is what gives this refreshing and candid musical its substance.  Mendoza wrote the 19 songs and brings Colma’s lead songtress, L.A. Renigen, in the lead role.

Tokyo Sonata”: Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s penetrating portrayal of the impact of economic downsizing on Ruhei Sasaki, a Japanese mid-career administrator and his family.  Initially, the shamed Ruhei hides that he lost his job from his family and suits up and pretends to go to work everyday.  Meanwhile, his idealistic teenage son decides to enlist in the U.S. military, while his younger son embarks on secret piano lessons going against his father’s will.  His lovely wife has her own crisis and suddenly, everything seems to unravel in the family as Ruhei’s sense of purpose and identity fade.

“The Chaser”: If you’re hungry for penetrating psychological horror, “The Chaser” by South Korean director Na Hong-jin will pre-occupy your thoughts and dreams for days.  The film is essentially a cat and mouse game between a former cop turned pimp whose call girl has gone missing and a serial killer with a fetish for hammers, chisels and religious iconography.  It turns triangular when the cops get involved.  Set late night in the back alleys of residential Seoul, the film’s plot is refreshingly unpredictable and skips special effects and high tech forensic crime scene analysis in lieu of a simple black satchel filled with killing implements, a jingling set of keys and lucky car crashes.

Ang Lee and “Lust, Caution”: Ang Lee will be talking with UC Berkeley’s resident sexologist Linda Williams about his new epic film at a special screening of “Lust, Caution” at UC Berkeley.  Set against the back-drop of a 1940’s Shanghai during the Japanese occupation, the film follows an assassination attempt against the imperious official Yee by Wong Chia Chi, a beguiling young actress in a resistance theatre troupe. Wong Chia Chi befriends Yee’s wife (Joan Chen), a mahjong mistress, so that she can seduce and entrap Yee.  A mesmerizing epic whose deeply passionate, consuming and at times violent sex scenes have slowed its mainstream release.       

“Project Kashmir:” Situated between India and Pakistan, breathtaking Kashmir is the destination for two American women, Geeta and Senain, who want to know what life is really like in this paradise turned blood bowl.  Shot by Academy-award winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman, “Project Kashmir” tracks the two women as they search for the truth through interviews with aid workers, journalists and activists and their friendship is put on the line when their beliefs differ.

March 12, 2009 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment