ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, the first and largest Bay Area film festival, starts Thursday and runs for the next two weeks

Kate Bekinsdale and Chloe Sevigny in Whit Stillman's first period film, the romantic comedy, “Love & Friendship,” opens the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 21st - May 5th, 2016. Both Stillman and Bekinsdale will be in attendance. Image: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Kate Bekinsale (R) and  Chloe Sevigny in Whit Stillman’s first period film, the romantic comedy, “Love & Friendship,” opens the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 21st – May 5th, 2016. Both Stillman and Bekinsale will be in attendance. Image: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

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.

Following Thursday’s opening film is an always rocking Opening Night Party, with live entertainment, dancing, food and drink at Public Works on Erie Street.

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.

Joel and Ethan Cohen, the lauded and seemingly inseparable creators of films like “Raising Arizona,” “The Big Lebowsky,”, “Barton Fink,”and “Fargo” will attend SFIFF59 on Saturday, April 30 and screen their 1984 debut film, the neo-noir blood-soaked thriller, “Blood Simple.”  This was the first film directed by Joel Cohen, produced by Ethan and co-written by the two.  They will appear on stage in conversation with Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell of Janus Films and the Criterion Collection, who will be awarded the Mel Novikoff Award.  Honoring the legendary San Francisco film exhibitor Mel Novikoff (1922–87), the Novikoff Award is given annually to an individual or institution whose work has enhanced film lovers’ knowledge and appreciation of world cinema. Image: Stefano Paltera, courtesy SFFS.

Joel and Ethan Cohen, the lauded and seemingly inseparable creators of films like “Raising Arizona,” “The Big Lebowsky,”“Barton Fink,” and “Fargo” will attend SFIFF59 on Saturday, April 30 and screen their 1984 debut film, the blood-soaked thriller, “Blood Simple.” This was the first film directed by Joel Cohen, produced by Ethan Cohen and co-written by the two. They will appear on stage in conversation with Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell of Janus Films and the Criterion Collection, who will be awarded the Mel Novikoff Award. Honoring the legendary San Francisco film exhibitor Mel Novikoff (1922–87), the Novikoff Award is given annually to an individual or institution whose work has enhanced film lovers’ knowledge and appreciation of world cinema. Image: Stefano Paltera, courtesy SFFS.

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.

A scene from Mike Plunkett's documentary “Salero” which has its West Coast premiere and screens three times at SFIFF 59. The film follows the story of Moises Chambri Yucra, a Quechean Indian, one of Bolivia’s last saleros─men who harvest salt from the vast plateau Salar de Uyuni. Underneath this snow white expanse are the gargantuan lithium deposits that some speculate will turn Bolivia into a kind of Saudi Arabia, as it reaps the revenue from this scarce mineral that is necessary for batteries and other industrial uses. The shots of the Bolivian salt flats are other worldly. Director Mike Plunkett and producer Anna Rose Holmer will both be in attendance. Photo: courtesy: SFFS

A scene from Mike Plunkett’s documentary “Salero”(2015) which has its West Coast premiere and screens three times at SFIFF 59. The film follows the story of Moises Chambri Yucra, a Quechean Indian, one of Bolivia’s last saleros─men who harvest salt from the vast plateau Salar de Uyuni. Underneath this snow white expanse are the gargantuan lithium deposits that some speculate will turn Bolivia into a kind of Saudi Arabia, as it reaps the revenue from this scarce mineral that is necessary for batteries and other industrial uses. Otherworldly shots of the Bolivian salt flats and Moises’ life of labor shed light on an utterly remote part of the world. Director Mike Plunkett and producer Anna Rose Holmer will both be in attendance. Photo: courtesy: SFFS

 

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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April 19, 2016 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Globally relevant, the San Francisco International Film Festival 2015 starts Thursday—here are the Big Nights and Special Events

Oscar winning filmmaker Alex Gibney’s new documentary “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” opens the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival Thursday evening.  Just as his riveting Scientology exposé “Going Clear” deconstructed the cult of Scientology, Gibney’s latest film tackles our cult-like loyalty and emotional connection to Jobs and Apple products by methodically firing bullet after bullet at our rose colored glasses.  The film screens just once at SFIFF 58 which runs April 23-May 7, 2015 and offers 181 films and live events from 49 countries in 33 languages.  Photo:  Courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Oscar winning filmmaker Alex Gibney’s new documentary “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” opens the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival Thursday evening. Just as his riveting Scientology exposé “Going Clear” deconstructed the cult of Scientology, Gibney’s latest film tackles our cult-like loyalty and emotional connection to Jobs and Apple products by methodically firing bullet after bullet at our rose colored glasses. The film screens just once at SFIFF 58 which runs April 23-May 7, 2015 and offers 181 films and live events from 49 countries in 33 languages. Photo: Courtesy San Francisco Film Society

The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 58) opens this evening with a first in its 58 years—an opening night documentary.  Alex Gibney’s  Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, is a searing portrait of the late Steven Jobs that will hit tech-savvy Bay Area audiences where they live and breathe…in their Apple devices.  The festival continues over the following 14 days with 181 films—100 full-length features— and live events from 49 countries in 33 languages. Organized by the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS), under the helm of Noah Cowan, now in his second year as SFFS Executive Director, and Rachel Rosen, Programming Director, this mammoth festival really defies categorization.  This year’s films, selected from a pool of 4,000 plus entries, mirror where global society is right now.  SFIFF is revered for its support of new filmmakers and for championing eclectic independent films that you just won’t see elsewhere and it always includes the crème from last year’s Cannes and fall festivals and this year’s Sundance festival.

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.

I am dividing my coverage of this year’s festival into two articles—this first one, below, gives an overview of the big evenings and tributes that ought to be on everyone’s radar; the second one will include short reviews of the top films that caught my eye.

BIG NIGHTS:

OPENING NIGHT: (Thursday, April 23, 7 PM, Castro Theater)  Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015, 127 min) Alex Gibney will attend.  Uniquely relevant to the Bay Area, this SXSW/Sundance documentary is a social inquiry into the phenomena of Steven Jobs by one of the most impactful filmmakers working today.  Gibney’s recent HBO doc, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015), delivered a remarkable glimpse into scientology, made a scathing case against it, and garnered some of the highest ratings in recent times.  Gibney explores why Jobs has had such a wide ranging impact and why people who never knew him grieved him so.  He talks with insiders and methodically scrutinizes key ideas espoused by Jobs and Apple’s advertising and points out contradiction after contradiction, zeroing in on many of Apple’s unsavory practices and debacles. Unflattering, fascinating, and highly relevant to the latest generation of innovators being incubated in the Bay Area. (Click here to purchase tickets.)  Followed by an Opening Night Party at the iconic Madame Tussauds, featuring gourmet treats and beverages from San Francisco’s finest purveyors.  Must be 21+ to attend party. (Ticketed separately)

Jesse Eisenberg as Rolling Stone journalist, David Lipsky, and Jason Segal as American author David Foster Wallace in James Ponsoldt’s “The End of the Tour” (2015), which screens Saturday, May 2 as SFIFF 58’s Centerpiece film.  Image: Courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Jesse Eisenberg as Rolling Stone journalist, David Lipsky, and Jason Segal as American author David Foster Wallace in James Ponsoldt’s “The End of the Tour” (2015), which screens Saturday, May 2 as SFIFF 58’s Centerpiece film. Image: Courtesy San Francisco Film Society

CENTERPEICE:  (Saturday, May 2, 6:45 PM, Castro Theater)  The End of the Tour (2015, 106 min) Director James Ponsoldt and actor Jason Segel will attend.  Set in 1996, when American author David Foster Wallace’s dystopian masterpiece Infinite Jest was on every informed reader’s A-list, James Ponsoldt’s (Smashed, 2012) moody chamber piece stars Jesse Eisenberg as journalist, David Lipsky, whose admiration, curiosity and fear of Wallace drive him to propose a long-form profile of the writer to Rolling Stone.  He gets the assignment and ultimately goes out on the road with Wallace during the final five days of his Infinite Jest book tour.  Jason Segel gives an affecting portrayal of Wallace whose erratic behavior and bouts of depression were evident then, 12 years before his suicide in 2008 at age 46.  The chemistry between Eisenberg and Segal makes their interaction intense, palpable, through all the phases of getting to know each other and Lipsky’s attempts to take what is essentially one long and rambling conversation and drill down on those windows of insight that will become “the story.”   Based on Lipsky’s 2008 memoir on the experience, Although Of Course You End Up Being Yourself.  After-screening Centerpiece Party, 9 p.m., at Monarch, a sophisticated event space, with dancing, delicious food and fine cocktails.  Must be 21+ to attend party. (Ticketed separately)

Peter Sarsgaard is psychologist Stanley Milgram’s in Michael Almereyda’s “The Experimenter” (2015) which had its acclaimed premiere at Sundance and closes SFIFF 58.  It’s been 15 years since Almereyda’s astounding “Hamlet” starring Ethan Hawke and similarly, he has conceived Milgram’s life and work as a kind of evolving theatre piece.  At one  point, he even has Sarsgaard trailed onscreen by a full-sized adult elephant.  Photo: Courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Peter Sarsgaard is psychologist Stanley Milgram’s in Michael Almereyda’s “The Experimenter” (2015) which had its acclaimed premiere at Sundance and closes SFIFF 58. It’s been 15 years since Almereyda’s astounding “Hamlet” starring Ethan Hawke and similarly, he has conceived Milgram’s life and work as a kind of evolving theatre piece. At one point, he even has Sarsgaard trailed onscreen by a full-sized adult elephant. Photo: Courtesy San Francisco Film Society

CLOSING NIGHT: Thursday, May 7, 7 PM, Castro Theater) The Experimenter (2015, 98 min) Michael Almereyda will attend.   Michael Almereyda’s The Experimenter revisits Yale social psychologist Stanley Milgram’s famous 1961 experiment in which subjects were made to believe they were administering electric shocks to others in order to explore the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience.  As much an examination of scientific ethics as it is an exploration of the moral consequences of just following orders, this playful and inventive biography of Milgram soars with Peter Sarsgaard as Milgram and Winona Ryder as his wife.  Began in 1961, a year after the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, Milgram devised his now famous experiment to answer the question “Could it be that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders?  Looking back, we all like to think we would not obey and harm our fellow man, but 65% of the study participants ended up administering (imaginary) shocks.  After-screening Closing Night Party, 9 PM, Mezzanine, an all-out evening of music, drinks and dancing, with complimentary beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres by some of San Francisco’s best restaurants. Must be 21+ to attend. (Ticketed separately)

AWARDS AND SPECIAL EVENTS:

Guillermo del Toro, recipient of the Irving M. Levin Directing Award at SFIFF 58.  Del Toro burst onto the international scene with Cronos (1993), winner of nine Ariel Awards from the Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences and the Cannes’ International Critics Week prize. “The Devil’s Backbone” solidified his reputation as a masterful storyteller, while Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) opened to worldwide acclaim, winning three Oscars and garnering Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film.  He directed Pacific Rim (2013), one of the highest grossing live action films that year.  Audiences await his upcoming gothic thriller Crimson Peak, set to release in October 2015.  Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Guillermo del Toro, recipient of the Irving M. Levin Directing Award at SFIFF 58. Del Toro burst onto the international scene with Cronos (1993), winner of nine Ariel Awards from the Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences and the Cannes’ International Critics Week prize. “The Devil’s Backbone” solidified his reputation as a masterful storyteller, while “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006) opened to worldwide acclaim, winning three Oscars and garnering Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film. He directed “Pacific Rim” (2013), one of the highest grossing live action films that year. Audiences await his upcoming gothic thriller “Crimson Peak,” set to release in October 2015. Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Guillermo del Toro Irving M. Levin Directing Award—(Saturday, April 25, 8 PM, Castro Theatre) SFIFF celebrates sci fi and fantasy legend, Guillermo del Toro with an evening at the Castro Theatre where the Mexican director, screenwriter, producer and novelist will participate in a conversation about his illustrious career, show clips from his past and present work and screen one of his favorite films, The Devil’s Backbone (2001).

Dark, bone chilling and edgy, the masterpiece is both a sophisticated commentary on war and a hell of a horror film that became a cult favorite.  It’s the final year of the Spanish Civil War and a bomb is dropped from the skies above an isolated Spanish orphanage, which leaves a boy, Santi, bleeding to death in its mysterious wake.  His corpse is then tied and shoved into the orphanage’s basement pool. When another young boy, Carlos (Fernando Tielve), arrives at the ghostly facility some time later, seemingly signaling the arrival of Franco himself, he is drawn to the snails in the swampy basement.  Soon the two boys will meet.  We feel in our bones that there’s evil here that cannot be easily understood or expunged. The odd couple who run the orphanage are concealing a large stash of the leftist cause’s gold, which is another subplot that expands brilliantly.

Richard Gere, recipient of the Peter J. Owens Award for excellence in acting at SFIFF 58.  Gere started his career on Broadway before his on-screen breakthrough in 1978 with Oscar-honored Days of Heaven.  His subsequent films include Gary Marshall’s Pretty Woman, Paul Schrader's American Gigolo and Taylor Hackford’s An Officer and a Gentleman.  He will next appear in Andrew Renzi’s Franny, currently getting rave reviews at Sundance, and Oppenheimer Strategies, co-starring Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen, and Steve Buscemi.  Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Richard Gere, recipient of the Peter J. Owens Award for excellence in acting at SFIFF 58. Gere started his career on Broadway before his on-screen breakthrough in 1978 with Oscar-honored “Days of Heaven.” His subsequent films include Gary Marshall’s “Pretty Woman,” Paul Schrader’s “American Gigolo” and Taylor Hackford’s “An Officer and a Gentleman.” He will next appear in Andrew Renzi’s “Franny,” currently getting rave reviews at this year’s Sundance, and in “Oppenheimer Strategies,” co-starring Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen, and Steve Buscemi. Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Richard Gere Peter J. Owens Award— (Sunday, April 26, 6:30 PM, Castro Theatre)  Richard Gere (Golden Globe Award winner and activist) is the recipient of this year’s Peter J. Owens Award for acting, which will be presented to Gere at An Evening with Richard Gere where he will discuss his prolific career with David D’Arcy before the screening his latest film, Time Out of Mind (2014), directed by Oren Moverman.  Gere plays vagrant George Hamilton who is evicted from the empty New York apartment where he is squatting and thrust out into the streets with nowhere in particular to go, except the eternal search for his next meal and place to sleep.  Gere established himself as one of the top actors of his generation with his screen debut in Terrence Malick’s 1978 drama Days of Heaven and from there went on to star in a number of important films.  Seeing the silver haired actor who has excelled at playing roles of privilege go against the grain and immerse himself in a tour de force performance as a plain, disenfranchised man is beyond refreshing.

Virtual reality pioneer,  Nonny de la Peña, discusses her role in developing immersive journalism in the context of creating “Project Syria,” originally commissioned by the World Economic Forum and created at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.

An Evening with Nonny de la Peña: Immersive Journalism—(Monday, April 27, 6:30 PM, Sundance Kabuki)   Nonny de la Peña is a pioneer in “immersive journalism,” a new form of journalism that aims to place viewers within news stories via virtual reality.  Once immersed in the story, viewers feel an extraordinary emotional connection as witnesses.  Her project “Gone Gitmo,” created in collaboration with artist Peggy Weil and originally launched in virtual environment Second Life, was a groundbreaking approach to reporting through virtual experience.  Amongst her many projects, de la Peña’s newest VR work, “Project Syria” recreates both a street corner in Aleppo that comes under attack and a camp for refugee children that grows more crowded over time.   In this talk, de la Peña will present her work, its intents and consequences and lay out prospects for the future of nonfiction reporting.  Her vision has also culminated in Emblematic Group, a content- and VR hardware-focused company that she runs along with her brother in Los Angeles.

American director and screenwriter, Paul Schrader, will receive the Kanbar Award for storytelling.   Photo:  The Independent

American director and screenwriter, Paul Schrader, will receive the Kanbar Award for storytelling. Photo: The Independent

Paul Schrader: Kanbar Award—(Tuesday, April 28, 6:30 PM, Sundance Kabuki)  SFIFF will honor American  screenwriter and director Paul Schrader with an onstage interview prior to screening one his most acclaimed films, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985, 121 min).  Schrader’s breakthrough moment came at age 26, when he wrote the script for Taxi Driver (1976) which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and was the first of several collaborations between Schrader and Scorsese, a list that includes Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Bringing Out the Dead (1999).  Mishima blends a recreation of Mishima’s (Ken Ogata) final day when the extent of his dedication to altering Japan’s political landscape and to bushido is made manifest; snippets of biography rendered in black and white that explore the psychology of one of postwar Japan’s most celebrated authors; and beautifully staged, luridly colored scenes from three key Mishima novels—Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoko’s House and Runaway Horses—that further explicate his psyche.  John Bailey’s luminous cinematography and Philip Glass’s sweeping, pulsating score add further texture to this mesmerizing drama, a portrait of one exceptional artist made by another.

Renowned British documentarian Kim Longinotto has devoted the bulk of her career to exploring various forms of activism, especially in relation to the plight of women around the world.  She won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award at Sundance this year and SFIFF honors her with its POV Award which celebrates the achievement of a filmmaker whose work is outside the realm of narrative feature. Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Renowned British documentarian Kim Longinotto has devoted the bulk of her career to exploring various forms of activism, especially in relation to the plight of women around the world. She won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award at Sundance this year and SFIFF honors her with its POV Award which celebrates the achievement of a filmmaker whose work is outside the realm of narrative feature. Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Kim Longinotto Persistence of Vision Award (Sunday, May 2, 3 PM, Sundance Kabuki) Renowned British documentarian Kim Longinotto has devoted the bulk of her career to exploring various forms of activism, especially in relation to the plight of women around the world.  She won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award at Sundance this year and SFIFF honors her with its POV Award which celebrates the achievement of a filmmaker whose work is outside the realm of narrative feature.  Longinetto will participate in an in-depth conversation and her latest documentary, Dreamcatcher (2015), will be screened.  The film follows the life of Brenda Myers-Powell, a former prostitute, who works in a Chicago jail counseling sex workers and who also runs a weekly “Girl Talk” at the local school that mentors a group of at-risk girls.  Along with her friend Stephanie Daniels-Wilson, she runs the Dreamcatcher Foundation.  As Brenda unearths the horrific secrets and lies that have plagued the community for generations, she encourages girls and young women to change their lives by challenging the culture of silence and denial.  You’re inserted right into these girls’ lives which allows you to experience their daily struggles and judge for yourself whether or not one committed person can really make a difference.

Lenny Borger, recipient of SFIFF 58’s Mel Novikoff Award, is both a subtitler and an archivist who has been responsible for finding many important lost films.   Borger’s stellar work making French cinema come to life for English-speaking audiences and his passion for bringing lost classics back to the screen make him a true behind-the-scenes hero of world cinema,” says Rachael Rosen, SFFS director of Programming.  Borger taught himself French at a young age by simply listening to chansons francaises.  Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Lenny Borger, recipient of SFIFF 58’s Mel Novikoff Award, is both a subtitler and an archivist who has been responsible for finding many important lost films. Borger’s stellar work making French cinema come to life for English-speaking audiences and his passion for bringing lost classics back to the screen make him a true behind-the-scenes hero of world cinema,” says Rachael Rosen, SFFS director of Programming. Borger taught himself French at a young age by simply listening to chansons francaises. Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

 

Lenny Borger Mel Novikov Award (Sunday, May 3, 1 PM, Sundance Kabuki) Brooklyn-born Parisian Lenny Borger is the recipient of this year’s Mel Novikoff Award.  The legendary archivist and master subtitler who has labored behind the scenes to bring French cinema to life for English-speaking audiences will participate in an on stage conversation with Variety’s Scott Foundas about the hunt for “lost” films and the unsung art of subtitling followed by a screening of the rediscovered 1929 silent masterpiece Monte Christo.  Borger originally came to France on a research grant to pursue doctoral work in Paris in 1977.  He abandoned his academic work to devote himself to covering the French film scene as a correspondent and film reviewer for Variety.  At the same time, he began scouring the European continent in search of rare and “missing” French films from foreign archives. His first discovery was the nitrate camera negative of Raymond Bernard’s The Chess Player, found in the vaults at the East German Film Archives where it had been concealed by the Nazi occupiers of France. A trip to Prague yielded even more exciting results: incomplete Czech distribution prints of Henri Fescourt’s Monte-Cristo—one of the highlights of the SFIFF tribute.

Douglas Trumbull, who has revolutionized movies more times than we can count, will deliver this year’s State of Cinema address, discussing the highs and lows of dreaming big and what the future looks like for the movies.  His short film UFOTOG, which he wrote and directed demos his radical new innovation, the MAGI process, a digital-projection method optimized for the eye-popping trifecta of 3-D, 4K, 120fps imagery.  Photo: Courtesy POdCAST

Douglas Trumbull, who has revolutionized movies more times than we can count, will deliver this year’s State of Cinema address, discussing the highs and lows of dreaming big and what the future looks like for the movies. His short film UFOTOG, which he wrote and directed demos his radical new innovation, the MAGI process, a digital-projection method optimized for the eye-popping trifecta of 3-D, 4K, 120fps imagery. Photo: Courtesy POdCAST

State of Cinema: Douglas Trumbull—(Sunday, May 3, 6:30 PM, Sundance Kabuki) director, writer, inventor, engineer and visual effects master Douglas Trumbull will deliver the highly-anticipated state of Cinema address.  Trumbull first stunned film audiences in the late sixties with the development of cutting-edge visual effects for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, including the epic “Stargate” sequence.  He was the visual effects supervisor on many works that pushed the limits of film fantasy such as Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Blade Runner and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  He also directed science-fiction classics Silent Running and Brainstorm and was a visual effects consultant for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.  He continues to work as an inventor and engineer, is a sought-after consultant, and holds numerous technology patents.  His ingenious suggestion for capping the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill went viral.  Currently, Trumbull is rethinking the immersive cinematic experience to include ultra high frame rates, high resolution, high brightness, high dynamic range, and ultra wide hemispherical screen projection. His talk will challenge everything you think movies can and should be.

2015 SFIFF Details:

When:  SFIFF 58 runs April 23-May 7, 2014

Where:  Main Screening Venues: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post Street, San Francisco; Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco; Landmark’s Clay Theatre, 226 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, Roxi Theater, 3117 16th Street, San Francisco,  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Theatre, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley.

Tickets: $15 for most films.  Special events generally start at $20 or $35.   Two screening 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 at Sundance Kabuki, Landmark’s Clay Theatre, Roxie Theater*, Pacific Film Archive and Castro Theatre*.  (*Day of show only and cash only)

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.

noon release tickets, daily : Every day, tickets may be released for that day’s rush screenings and may be purchased online or in person at Sundance kabuki, starting at noon.

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.

More info: For full schedule and tickets, visit http://www.sffs.org/sfiff58/program

April 21, 2015 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SFIFF 57 is off and running; here are the must-see films

A scene from Tonislav Hristov’s documentary “Soul Food Stories,” screening twice at SFIFF 57.  The women in the village of Satovcha, Bulgaria— Orthodox Bulgarians, Muslim Turks, Pomacs and a few gypsies—still gather to prepare “banitsa” a traditional Bulgarian pastry (with many Balkan variants) comprised of filo dough that is hand-pulled until it is just millimeters thick and then filled with a mix of crushed cheese (Bulgaian sirene), yoghurt and eggs.   They also use the time to discuss their limited access to the men’s social club.  Photo: courtesy Taskovski Films, Ltd.

A scene from Tonislav Hristov’s documentary “Soul Food Stories,” screening twice at SFIFF 57 (April 24-May 8, 2014). The women in the village of Satovcha, Bulgaria— Orthodox Bulgarians, Muslim Turks, Pomacs and a few gypsies—still gather to prepare “banitsa” a traditional Bulgarian pastry (with many Balkan variants) comprised of filo dough that is hand-pulled until it is just millimeters thick and then filled with a mix of crushed cheese (Bulgarian sirene), yoghurt and eggs. They also use the time to discuss their limited access to the men’s social club. Photo: courtesy Taskovski Films, Ltd.

 

The 57th annual San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 57) opened Thursday and runs for 15 days, featuring 168 films and live events from 56 countries in 40 languages—74 narrative features, 29 documentary features, 65 shorts, 14 juried awards, and over 100 participating filmmakers. So, how to choose?  On Tuesday (click here to read), I covered the festival’s big nights and special programming. To further narrow the field, here’s my list of must-see films. If a film sounds interesting, don’t dally in pre-purchasing tickets, as most of the films will go to rush. (Click here to see which films are at rush now; the list is updated constantly.)

 

ARThound’s Top Picks—

 

Costa Rican director, Neto Villalobos’ debut feature comedy “All About the Feathers,” (2013), is about a security guard who is obsessed with fighting cocks and  acquires and befriends a rooster he names “Rocky.”  Villalobos used a small crew of nonprofessional actors and no roosters are shown fighting.  Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Costa Rican director, Neto Villalobos’ debut feature comedy “All About the Feathers,” (2013), is about a security guard who is obsessed with fighting cocks and acquires and befriends a rooster he names “Rocky.” Villalobos used a small crew of nonprofessional actors and no roosters are shown fighting. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

All About the Feathers (Neto Vittalobos, 2013, 85 min) First-time Costa Rican director Neto Vittalobos has knocked it out of the park with this delightfully absurdist comedy about a security guard Chalo (Allan Cascante) in a small Costa Rican town who becomes almost co-dependent with “Rocky,” his fighting cock who happens to have gorgeous feathers.  Chalo sees dollar signs as he dreams of Rocky pecking out the eyes of other roosters in a cockfighting event, the town’s main form of entertainment.  But, just as you soon as you can figure out how to say “You can’t count your chickens before they hatch,” in Spanish, complications ensue and Chalo is out on the street trying to survive with a large noisy rooster.  (Screens:  Fri, April 25, 6:30 p.m., BAM/PFA, Sun, April 27, 8:45 p.m. and Tues, April 29, 6:15 p.m., both at Sundance Kabuki)

 

 

Berkeley native, Sara Dosa’s "The Last Season" makes its world premiere on Friday, April 25th, at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 57) which runs April 24- May 8, 2014.  The documentary examines the bonds between some 200 seasonal workers, mostly Asian, who set up a temporary camp each fall in tiny town of Chemult, Oregon, to forage for matsutake, a rare type of mycorrhizal mushroom that is prized in Japan for its distinctive spicy aroma.    Dosa, her film crew, and Cambodian immigrant Kuoy Loch will be in attendance.  The film screens three times at SFIFF 57, which offers 29 documentary features and a total of 168 films.  Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Berkeley native, Sara Dosa’s “The Last Season” makes its world premiere on Friday, April 25th, at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 57) which runs April 24- May 8, 2014. The documentary examines the bonds between some 200 seasonal workers, mostly Asian, who set up a temporary camp each fall in tiny town of Chemult, Oregon, to forage for a rare mushroom that is prized in Asia for its distinctive spicy aroma. Dosa, her film crew, and Cambodian immigrant Kuoy Loch will be in attendance. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

The Last Season (Sara Dosa, USA, 78 min) World Premiere The lives of some 200 seasonal Asian workers—allies and enemies from Southeast Asian wars— unfold as they set up a temporary camp each fall in the tiny town of Chemult, Oregon, to forage for a rare mushroom that is prized in Japan for its distinctive spicy aroma.  From this unexpected forest world and its temporary tent city, filmmaker Sara Dosa explores the legacy of the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge, poetically tells the story of a migrant community at the whims of the global economy. (Screens: Fri, April 25, 6:45 p.m., Sundance Kabuki, Sun, April 27, 12:30 p.m., BAM/PFA, Sun, May 5, 3:30 p.m., Sundance Kabuki)

 

 

Manuscripts Don’t Burn (Dast-Neveshtehaa Nemisoosand) (Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 2013, 127 min) Based on a true story, this gripping thriller tells the story of a failed effort by the Iranian government to murder almost two dozen journalists in 1995.  The story is told through the journey of two hired killers who, years later, are intimidating and interrogating witnesses of the failed mass murder on behalf of the repressive regime.  Shot on location in Iran, the film blatantly defies Rasoulof’s 20-year ban from filmmaking and serves as a chilling indictment of contemporary Iran.  This is Rasoulof’s third film to screen at SFIFF  ( The White Meadows (2010) SFIFF 53; Goodbye (2011) SFIFF 55) but he has yet to make an appearance.  One the great masters of Iranian film, Rasoulof is a great storyteller and his films are loaded with images that are both picturesque and eerily disturbing.  (Screens: Fri, April 25, 8:40 p.m., BAM/PFA, Sun, April 27, 4 p.m. and Tues, April 29, 9 p.m. both at Sundance Kabuki)

 

 

A scene from Johannes Holzhausen’s perceptive documentary, “The Great Museum” (2014), which peers into Vienna’s famed Kunsthistorisches Museum in the midst of an ambitious remodeling and reinstallation.  Photo: courtesy Navigator Film

A scene from Johannes Holzhausen’s perceptive documentary, “The Great Museum” (2014), which peers into Vienna’s famed Kunsthistorisches Museum in the midst of an ambitious remodeling and reinstallation. Photo: courtesy Navigator Film

The Great Museum (Das große museum) US Premiere (Johannes Holzhausen, 2014, 95 min) —An elegant tribute to the curators, conservators, administrators and marketers who keep Vienna’s venerable Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM), in delicate balance so that the world’s cultural heritage is preserved and modern audiences find the exhibits relevant and engaging.  Home to the vast collection put together by the Hapsburg dynasty, the stately KHM is one the world’s most important museums.  Last year, SFIFF 56 offered Jem Cohen’s delicate Museum Hours (2012), which captured a random encounter between a middle-aged KHM guard and a museum visitor, giving us a glimpse of the institution’s glorious Dutch and Flemish paintings and inserting KHM into the film as enigmatic character.

Documentary filmmaker Holzhausen, who studied art history for six years before entering film school, offers more of a window into the museum’s day-to-day routine.  He focuses on its employees’ micro-dramas—from the managing director to the cleaning services team.  For example, a conservator who discovers that a Rubens painting has been painted over several times; an art historian who experiences the thrill and frustration of an auction, and the chief financial officer who thinks the “3” on the new promotional material looks “aggressive”.  The film also tackles some profound issues: Is it possible to reconcile the conservation with timely presentation? What is art’s role in the representation of national identity in politics and tourism?  The film’s precise camera work (Joerg Burger, Attila Boa) and poignant editing (Dieter Pichler) serve to create an atmosphere of patient observation and reflection.  Holzhausen’s working rule—“only show the pieces of art in the context of work being done and never on their own.” (extracted from interview in press kit)  (Screens: Sat, April 26, 6:30 p.m., New People)

 

 

A scene from Zaza Urushadze's “Tangerines” (2013) which is set in 1992 in war torn Abkhazia, a hand’s throw from Soochi.  The film addresses long-standing ethnic conflicts that were stirred with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  An old Estonian man, who is helping his elderly neighbor harvest his annual tangerine crop, ends up caring for two wounded men who are blood enemies.  Shot in the mountainous western Georgia region of Guria, the film features gorgeous cinematography.  Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Zaza Urushadze’s “Tangerines” (2013) which is set in 1992 in war torn Abkhazia, a hand’s throw from Soochi. The film addresses long-standing ethnic conflicts that were stirred with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. An old Estonian man, who is helping his elderly neighbor harvest his annual tangerine crop, ends up caring for two wounded men who are blood enemies. Shot in the mountainous western Georgia region of Guria, the film features gorgeous cinematography. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Tangerines (Zaza Urushadze, Georgia/Estonia, 2013, 84 min) An old man caught in the brutal 1992 conflict over Georgia’s Abkhazia region finds himself nursing two wounded soldiers from opposing sides in his small house and struggling to navigate any form of truce between these blood rivals. Gorgeously filmed in Georgia’s mountainous coastal region, this slow-paced and perceptive antiwar tale observes the growing conflict from a tangerine orchard on a remote mountain. Recent events in the Ukraine make Tangerines especially relevant. (Screens: Sat, April 26, 2014, 9 p.m. and Sun, April 27, 6:15 p.m., both at Sundance Kabuki, and Tues, May 6, 8:30 p.m., BAM/PFA)

 

 

A scene from Tonislav Hristov’s documentary “Soul Food Stories,” (2013) which focuses on everyday life in a small Bulgarian village.  Screening twice at SFIFF 57.  Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Tonislav Hristov’s documentary “Soul Food Stories,” (2013) which focuses on everyday life in a small Bulgarian village. Screening twice at SFIFF 57. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Soul Food Stories (Istoria za hranata i dushata) (Tonislav Hristov, Bulgaria/Finland, 2013, 69 min) U.S. Premiere  “Everything bad comes from TV.  It taught our women to argue with us.”  That’s the opening line of Tonislav Hristov’s  Bulgarian documentary Soul Food Stories, which serves as warm clever exploration of gender, tradition and community in the tiny Southwestern Bulgarian village of Satovcha. The elderly inhabitants are Muslim, Christian, Roma and atheist Communists and there’s also a Finnish family, the first tourists to stay longer than 10 days in Satovchka.  Theyare all united by a love of food, a respect for the land and by the friendly clubs they have set up.  The films zeros in seven members of one of these clubs—all men—who meet regularly and say they can solve all the world’s problems over a good meal.  They cherish their space and are trying to decide whether or not to allow the women of Satovcha more acess to the clubhouse. Beautifully shot, the film unfolds like a simple but sumptuous 10-course meal, with observations on food preparation and religious diversity generously laced into the recipes.   (Screens: Wed, April 30, 2014, 6 p.m., Sundance Kabuki, Sat, May 3, 3:30 p.m., New People Cinema, Tuesday, May 6, Sundance Kabuki

 

Of Horses and Men (Hross í oss) (Benedikt Erlingsson, 2013, 81 min) Laced with explicit equine sex, gaited trotting ponies and chock full of gorgeously shot vistas of the Icelandic landscape, actor Benedikt Erlingsson’s directorial debut is a delightfully comedic exploration of the base animal instincts in all of us. Set in a rural highlands community where horses (and drinking) are a crucial part of the social interaction, the director shows us the world of his human characters through their horses’ expressive eyes. The old proverb “pride cometh before a great fall” seems particularly well-suited to the stubborn and irrational Nordic characters in these interlacing vignettes. Erlingsson was brought up in downtown Reykjavík, but as a teen, he worked several summers on a horse farm in the highlands of northern Iceland. Iceland’s Submission for the Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. (Screens: Fri, May 2, 4:30 p.m. and Sat, May 3, 8:45 p.m. and Sun, May 5, 6 p.m.—all at Sundance Kabuki)

 

SFIFF 57 Details:

When:  SFIFF 57 runs April 24-May 8, 2014

Where:  Four Screening Venues: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post Street, San Francisco; New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco; Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Theatre, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley.  Salon and Event Venues (all San Francisco):  Filmhouse, 1426 Fillmore Street, Suite 300 (near Ellis), Disney Family Museum, 104 Montgomery Street (near Lincoln),  The Chapel, 777 Valencia Street (at 18th Street) , The Grand Ballroom at the Regency Center, 1290 Sutter Street (at Van Ness),  Roe Restaurant, 651 Howard Street; Public Works, 161 Erie Street (at Mission)

Tickets: $15 for most films.  Special events generally start at $20 or $35.   Two screening 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). ($1200 Film Society members and $1500 general public).   How to buy tickets—purchase online at www.festival.sffs.org or in person during the festival at Sundance Kabuki, New People Cinema.  Purchase day of show, cash only tickets at Pacific Film Archive and Castro Theatre.

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.

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.

More info: For full schedule, info, tickets visit www.festival.sffs.org. or call (415) 561-5000.

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 57th San Francisco International Film Festival opens Thursday evening with a captivating drama and continues with 14 days of film from all corners of the globe

Berkeley native, Sara Dosa’s "The Last Season" makes its world premiere on Friday, April 25th, at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 57) which runs April 24- May 8, 2014.  The documentary examines the bonds between some 200 seasonal workers, mostly Asian, who set up a temporary camp each fall in tiny town of Chemult, Oregon, to forage for matsutake, a rare type of mycorrhizal mushroom that is prized in Japan for its distinctive spicy aroma.    Dosa, her film crew, and Cambodian immigrant Kuoy Loch will be in attendance.  The film screens three times at SFIFF 57, which offers 29 documentary features and a total of 168 films.  Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Berkeley native, Sara Dosa’s “The Last Season” makes its world premiere on Friday, April 25th, at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 57) which runs April 24- May 8, 2014. The documentary examines the bonds between some 200 seasonal workers, mostly Asian, who set up a temporary camp each fall in tiny town of Chemult, Oregon, to forage for matsutake, a rare type of mycorrhizal mushroom that is prized in Japan for its distinctive spicy aroma. Dosa, her film crew, and Cambodian immigrant Kuoy Loch will be in attendance. The film screens three times at SFIFF 57, which offers 29 documentary features and a total of 168 films. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

 

Not just another film festival, the 57th Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 57) is the West Coast’s premiere film festival, showcasing stellar global storytelling, homegrown talent, impactful reportage and remarkable cinematography.  SFIFF opens this Thursday evening and runs for 15 days, featuring 168 films and live events from 56 countries in 40 languages—74 narrative features, 29 documentary features, 65 shorts, 14 juried awards, and over 100 participating filmmakers. Organized by the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS), this mammoth festival really does defy categorization.  Its greatly revered for its support of new filmmakers and for championing independent films that are unlikely to screen elsewhere in the Bay Area.  One of the joys of attending SFIFF is getting to see these films the way they were meant to be seen—on a big screen, in digital projection—and getting to participate in Q&A’s with their directors and actors, many of whom reside in other countries and express fresh and unpredictable points of view.  SFIFF also distinguishes itself with excellent live onstage events and awards ceremonies that feature film luminaries in more lengthy moderated discussions.  While many festivals have morphed in multi-sensory entertainment malls, SFIFF is first and foremost film, with a few great parties thrown into the mix.

I am dividing my coverage of this year’s festival into two articles—this first one, below, gives an overview and lets you know what the featured big evenings and tributes will offer; the second one will include short reviews of the top films I recommend.  I haven’t covered the special programs before but I’ve attended several of these honoree chat/screening combos and there is nothing more impactful than watching a film and getting the behind-the-scenes lowdown straight from the creator or actor’s mouth.  Value priced at $15-$25, they’re a no-brainer.  So, here are the high-profile events that ought to be on everyone’s radar–

BIG NIGHTS:

This year, both opening and closing night films focus on two American married couples who develop fractures in their relationships while dealing with issues—work and vacation—that become insanely complicated and high stakes.

Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac, and Kirsten Dunst star in the North American premiere of Hossein Amini's “The Two Faces of January,” a stylish adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith suspense thriller.  The film, which was shot on location in Greece and Turkey, opens the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 57) which runs April 24- May 8, 2014.  Hossein Amini will be in attendance.  Photo courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac, and Kirsten Dunst star in the North American premiere of Hossein Amini’s “The Two Faces of January,” a stylish adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith suspense thriller. The film, which was shot on location in Greece and Turkey, opens the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF 57) which runs April 24- May 8, 2014. Hossein Amini will be in attendance. Photo courtesy San Francisco Film Society

OPENING NIGHT: (Thursday, April 24, 7 p.m., Castro Theatre) The Two Faces of January (Hossein Amini, UK, 2014, 97 min) Hossein Amini will attend.  Intrigue begins at the Parthenon when wealthy American tourists Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his young bride Collette (Kirsten Dunst) meet American expat Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a scammer who poses as a tour guide.  Instead of becoming his latest marks, the two befriend him, but an incident at the couple’s hotel puts all three in danger and creates a precarious interdependence between them.  This American thriller, written and directed by Hossein Amini in his feature directorial debut, is a gripping adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1964 novel of the same name. Filmed on location in Greece and Turkey, Amini evokes the glamor of the 1962 setting through Marcel Zyskind’s cinematography, Alberto Iglesias’ atmospheric score and the Kennedy-era chic of Steven Noble’s costume designs.  The clever screenplay has the two male protagonists seesawing between being allies and adversaries, a handful of unnatural deaths, and a few attempted murders and frame-ups.  Amini was born in Iran and he and his family immigrated to England when he was 11.  He wrote the screenplay for Snow White and the Hunstman (2012) and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing-Adapted Screenplay for Wings of the Dove (1997). (Click here to purchase tickets) Followed by an Opening Night Party at Public Works, a new events space, situated in San Francisco’s Mission district, featuring gourmet treats and beverages from some of San Francisco’s finest restaurants and purveyors. (Ticketed separately)

This year’s CENTERPIECE is Saturday, May 3 and introduces first time writer director Gia Coppola (27-year-old granddaughter of FFC and niece of Sofia) who has adapted Palo Alto, James Franco’s 2010 book of short stories, into a richly layered ensemble drama. I attended a press screening of Palo Alto and Coppola certainly has the family touch. Her film follows an extended group of high school teens, some genuinely disturbed and others just angst ridden, as they experiment with all sorts of vices and struggle with their families and one another. Emma Roberts, is sensitive April, the emotional lynchpin, who falls for introspective artist Teddy (Jack Kilmer, son of Val Kilmer who also appears), while navigating an affair with her soccer coach Mr. B (James Franco). Meanwhile, Teddy’s friend, Fred (Nat Wolff), wreaks personality disorder level mayhem wherever he goes. When he zeroes in on sexually promiscuous Emily (Zoe Levin), things get cruel and so uncomfortable and nasty, you’ll have a hard time watching.  If you’re a parent, take in the signals and enjoy the great retro aura.  If you’re one of the young and disaffected, Coppola’s sharp mirror is sympathetic to your inner demons.  (Screens May 3, 7:30 p.m., Sundance Kabuki with Gia Coppola in attendance. (Click here to purchase tickets.) After-screening party, 9 p.m., at Roe, San Francisco’s premier boutique nightclub and lounge destination. (Ticketed separately)

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Chris Messina star in Messina's “Alex in Venice,” SFIFF 57’s Closing Night Film, a very human drama about a workaholic lawyer who struggles to manage her high profile career, her family, and her identity after her stay-at-home husband decides to leave.  Both Winstead and Messina will attend.  Photo: courtesy Milissa Moseley and SFFS.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Chris Messina star in Messina’s “Alex in Venice,” SFIFF 57’s Closing Night Film, a very human drama about a workaholic lawyer who struggles to manage her high profile career, her family, and her identity after her stay-at-home husband decides to leave. Both Winstead and Messina will attend. Photo: courtesy Milissa Moseley and SFFS.

 

CLOSING NIGHT: (Thursday, May 8, 7 p.m., CastroTheatre) Alex of Venice (Chris Messina, USA 2014, 87 min)  In the tranquil suburbs of Venice, CA, Alex, (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) a workaholic environmental rights attorney, receives a rude awakening. Her stay-at-home husband George (Chris Messina), who runs the household and takes care of their son Dakota (Skylar Gaertner) and her pot-smoking actor father (Don Johnson), calls it quits. He wants to work on his waning art career and needs space. Thrown for a loop, Alex barely has time to register her own shock and pain because she’s immediately overburdened with the practical responsibilities of two full-time jobs.  As it becomes clear how inept she is on the home front, and how important George is, she acts out.  What eventually follows is Alex’s mini-voyage of self-discovery, resolve and resignation. This is the directorial debut of actor Chris Messina (“The Mindy Project” TV series). Chris Messina and Mary Elizabeth Winstead will attend. (Click here to purchase tickets.) Closing Night Party: Dance the night away with SFIFF’s movie-loving crowd while enjoying delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktail at The Chapel, San Francisco’s new Mission addition. (Ticketed separately)

AWARDS AND TRIBUTES:

British artist Isaac Julien will receive SFIFF’s Persistence of Vision Award on Sunday, April 27, 2014.  Photo: Courtesy of Graeme Robertson and the San Francisco Film Society

British artist Isaac Julien will receive SFIFF’s Persistence of Vision Award on Sunday, April 27, 2014. Photo: Courtesy of Graeme Robertson and the San Francisco Film Society

British artist Isaac Julien, who will receive SFIFF’s Persistence of Vision Award on Sunday, April 27, is acclaimed for his immersive film installations.  “Ten Thousand Waves” (2010), which will be shown on Sunday, was filmed on location in the ravishing and remote Guangxi Province and at the famous Shanghai Film Studios and various sites around Shanghai. Through formal experimentation and a series of unique collaborations, Julien seeks to engage with Chinese culture through contemporary events, ancient myths and artistic practice.  Isaac Julien Mazu, Silence (Ten Thousand Waves), 2010, Endura Ultra photograph, 180 x 240 cm, Courtesy of the artist, Metro Pictures, New York and Victoria Miro Gallery, London.

British artist Isaac Julien, who will receive SFIFF’s Persistence of Vision Award on Sunday, April 27, is acclaimed for his immersive film installations. “Ten Thousand Waves” (2010), which will be shown on Sunday, was filmed on location in the ravishing and remote Guangxi Province and at the famous Shanghai Film Studios and various sites around Shanghai. Through formal experimentation and a series of unique collaborations, Julien seeks to engage with Chinese culture through contemporary events, ancient myths and artistic practice. Isaac Julien Mazu, Silence (Ten Thousand Waves), 2010, Endura Ultra photograph, 180 x 240 cm, Courtesy of the artist, Metro Pictures, New York and Victoria Miro Gallery, London.

Persistence of Vision Award — (Sunday, April 27 at 3:30 p.m., Sundance Kabuki) British artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien (2001 Turner Prize short-list nominee for The Long Road to Mazatlán (2000) and creator of numerous immersive film and sound installations at world’s top museums) is the winner of this year’s Persistence of Vision Award. He will take the stage for a conversation with author and social critic B. Ruby Rich and for the screening of his acclaimed Ten Thousand Waves (2010), a film installation reflecting the movement of people across continents. This installation, projected onto nine double-sided screens, travelled the world (the UK, China, South Korea, Europe, and Scandinavia) and arrived at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in late 2013, riveting visitors with its three-story arrangement of screens and multiplying sounds, which filled MoMA’s atrium and reverberated through the galleries.  I can’t wait to hear what Julien is planning next.

Jeremy Irons will receive the Peter J. Owens Award for excellence in acting at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival on May 1 at the Regency Center.  Irons, who won a best actor Oscar in 1990 for his performance as Claus von Bulow in "Reversal of Fortune" and a Tony in 1984 for Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing," also will be honored with "An Evening With Jeremy Irons at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas" on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.  Photo: courtesy SFFS.

Jeremy Irons will receive the Peter J. Owens Award for excellence in acting at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival on May 1 at the Regency Center. Irons, who won a best actor Oscar in 1990 for his performance as Claus von Bulow in “Reversal of Fortune” and a Tony in 1984 for Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing,” also will be honored with “An Evening With Jeremy Irons at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas” on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Photo: courtesy SFFS.

Peter J. Owens Award—Jeremy Irons (Academy Award, Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy, Tony and SAG Award winner) is the recipient of this year’s Peter J. Owens Award for acting, which will be presented to Irons at the very exclusive Film Society Awards Night, Thursday, May 1 at the Regency Center. Irons will also be honored at An Evening with Jeremy Irons at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Wednesday April 30, 7:30 pm. A screening of a film featuring one of his iconic performances will follow an onstage interview and a selection of clips from his impressive career. (Stay tuned to ARThound for more information about this special evening.)

American indie director Richard Linklater will receive SFIFF’s Founder's Directing Award on Sunday, May 2, 2014.  Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

American indie director Richard Linklater will receive SFIFF’s Founder’s Directing Award on Sunday, May 2, 2014. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

Ellar Coltrane, the focus of Richard Linklater‘s “Boyhood” (2014), which follows an American family over the course of more than a decade.  Linklater shot the film, with cast Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and newcomers Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater (Linklater’s daughter), over twelve years.  It’s the real deal—each year, he brought the cast together for a scene or two sensitively documenting the actual growth of two siblings, the evolution of their family and how they navigate the painful beautiful and unfair act of just living.

Ellar Coltrane, the focus of Richard Linklater‘s “Boyhood” (2014), which follows an American family over the course of more than a decade. Linklater shot the film, with cast Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and newcomers Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater (Linklater’s daughter), over twelve years. It’s the real deal—each year, he brought the cast together for a scene or two sensitively documenting the actual growth of two siblings, the evolution of their family and how they navigate the painful beautiful and unfair act of just living.

 

Founder’s Directing Award— (Sunday May 2, 7 p.m., Castro Theatre) Self-taught American indie director and writer, Richard Linklater is the winner of this year’s Founder’s Directing Award and marks his third consecutive appearance at SFIFF. He joins an elite group— Satyajit Ray and Spike Lee—of directors whose first films were screened at SFIFF and who were subsequently awarded the Founder’s Directing Award. The evening will include a clip reel of career highlights and an onstage interview followed by a screening of Linklater’s entrancing new film Boyhood (2014), shot over 12 years, which received accolades at its premiere at Sundance. The 162 minute film is Linklater’s 18th feature film. It begins in 2002 and tells the quiet story of a boy named Mason as he grows up in Texas. The hook is that this film offers something few if any other films have—Mason is played throughout by the young actor Ellar Coltrane, who we literally and authentically watch grow up, year after year, on camera, from first grade to his departure for college.

Stephen Gaghan, the writer who crafted “Rules of Engagement,” “Traffic” and “Syriana” is the recipient of the Kanbar Screenwriting Award at SFIFF 57, April 24 - May 8, 2014.  Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Stephen Gaghan, the writer who crafted “Rules of Engagement,” “Traffic” and “Syriana” is the recipient of the Kanbar Screenwriting Award at SFIFF 57, April 24 – May 8, 2014. Photo: Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Matt Damon (left) and George Clooney (center) in a scene from Stephen Gagan’s “Syriana” (2005) which will screen at SFIFF 57 on May 3, when Stephen Gaghan receives the Kanbar Award for excellence in screenwriting.  “Syriana” tackles oil and money and the stakes of the haves and have nots in the world through a series of interlocking stories that involve revenge, bribery, betrayal.  The plot is so complex, that it surrounds and engulfs the viewer, so that he becomes just like one of the players in the game who is fighting without understanding the complete picture.

Matt Damon (left) and George Clooney (center) in a scene from Stephen Gagan’s “Syriana” (2005) which screens at SFIFF 57 on May 3, when Stephen Gaghan receives the Kanbar Award for excellence in screenwriting. “Syriana” tackles oil and money and the stakes of the world’s Haves and Have nots through a series of interlocking stories that involve revenge, bribery, and betrayal. The plot is so complex, that it surrounds and engulfs the viewer, making him just like one of the players in the game–compelled to fight without understanding the complete picture.

Kanbar Award(Saturday, May 3, 12:30 p.m., Sundance Kabuki). American screenwriter and director Stephen Gaghan is this year’s recipient of the Kanbar Awardfor excellence in screenwriting.  Gaghan wrote and directed Syriana (2005), for which he received a best original screenplay Oscar nomination, and is well known for his feature script for Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic (2000) for which he won the Academy Award, Golden Globe, Writers Guild of America Award and British Academy Award.  I’ve always admired Gaghan and thought if he’d been so inclined, he would have made a great investigative reporter because he swims like a pro in the clandestine and murky waters of global politics.  The festival will honor Gaghan with an onstage interview prior to a screening of Syriana.

 

San Francisco-based film critic David Thomson is the recipient of SFIFF’s Mel Novikoff Award.  On May 4, he will appear in conversation with writer Geoff Dyer , followed by a screening of Preston Sturges'  “The Lady Eve” (1941).  Photo: courtesy the San Francisco Film Society

San Francisco-based film critic David Thomson is the recipient of SFIFF’s Mel Novikoff Award. On May 4, he will appear in conversation with writer Geoff Dyer , followed by a screening of Preston Sturges’ “The Lady Eve” (1941). Photo: courtesy the San Francisco Film Society

Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck in Preston Sturges' “The Lady Eve” (1941).   Card shark Stanwyck is out to fleece Fonda, the naïve heir to a brewery fortune who is also a snake enthusiast coming home from an Amazon expedition.  Her scheme is quickly abandoned when she falls in love with her prey but is exposed anyway and shunned by Fonda.  Her plan to re-conquer his heart involves assuming a false identity and unabashed flirtation.  No one more convincingly desired a man.  In the famous scene where Fonda adjusts Stanwyck’s shirt downward to expose less skin, Thomson, in his book “Moments that Made the Movies,” linked this act of restraint with the inelastic film censors of the times, observing that Sturges was a brilliant master of the double entendre.   Photo: courtesy the San Francisco Film Society

Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck in Preston Sturges’ “The Lady Eve” (1941). Card shark Stanwyck is out to fleece naïve Fonda, the heir to a brewery fortune and a snake enthusiast coming home from an Amazon expedition. Her scheme is quickly abandoned when she falls in love with her prey but is exposed anyway and shunned by Fonda. Her plan to re-conquer his heart involves assuming a false identity and unabashed flirtation. In the famous scene where Fonda adjusts Stanwyck’s shirt downward to expose less skin, Thomson, in his book “Moments that Made the Movies,” linked this act of restraint to the inelastic film censors of the times, observing that Sturges was a brilliant master of the double entendre. Photo: courtesy the San Francisco Film Society

Mel Novikoff Award— (Sunday May 4 at 3 p.m., Sundance Kabuki.)  San Francisco-based film critic and historian David Thomson, who has authored over 20 books on film, including the best-selling Moments That Made the Movies (2013), is the recipient of the Mel Novikoff Award.  He will be in conversation with writer Geoff Dyer and chose Preston Sturges’ The Lady Eve (1941), starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda, as the film he wanted screened on his big day.  You can be sure that he will give a riveting analysis of select moments in this heralded film, some familiar and others not, along with anecdotes and juicy gossip about its filming and stars.

Stay tuned to ARThound.  Tomorrow, I’ll cover the festival’s top films.

SFIFF 57 Details:

When:  SFIFF 57 runs April 24-May 8, 2014

Where:  Four Screening Venues: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post Street, San Francisco; New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco; Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Theatre, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley.  Salon and Event Venues (all San Francisco):  Filmhouse, 1426 Fillmore Street, Suite 300 (near Ellis), Disney Family Museum, 104 Montgomery Street (near Lincoln),  The Chapel, 777 Valencia Street (at 18th Street) , The Grand Ballroom at the Regency Center, 1290 Sutter Street (at Van Ness),  Roe Restaurant, 651 Howard Street; Public Works, 161 Erie Street (at Mission)

Tickets: $15 for most films.  Special events generally start at $20 or $35.   Two screening 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). ($1200 Film Society members and $1500 general public).   How to buy tickets—purchase online at www.festival.sffs.org or in person during the festival at Sundance Kabuki, New People Cinema.  Purchase day of show, cash only tickets at Pacific Film Archive and Castro Theatre.

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.

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.

More info: For full schedule, info, tickets visit www.festival.sffs.org. or call (415) 561-5000.

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Benvenuto Novembre! New Italian Cinema starts Wednesday, November 13, with a line-up of 14 new films and a spotlight on Neapolitan cinema, through Sunday, at San Francisco’s Landmark Clay Theatre

Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” (La grande bellezza, Italy/France 2013) is the Closing Night film at New Italian Cinema, November 13 – 17, 2013.  Sorrentino, one of Italy’s most influential film director’s, will attend.  Set in Rome, the film has been described as a Technicolor “La Dolce Vita” for the Berlusconi era, allegorically asking what has happened in Italy?  Image: San Francisco Film Society

Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” (La grande bellezza, Italy/France 2013) is the Closing Night film at New Italian Cinema, November 13 – 17, 2013. Sorrentino, one of Italy’s most influential film director’s, will attend. Set in Rome, the film has been described as a Technicolor “La Dolce Vita” for the Berlusconi era, allegorically asking what has happened in Italy? Image: San Francisco Film Society

Celebrating its 17th year, New Italian Cinema (NIC) is the much-loved annual festival of newly-released Italian films which comes to San Francisco every November.  NIC opens tomorrow, November 13, at San Francisco’s Landmark Clay Theatre with Garibaldi’s Lovers, the latest film from Silvio Soldini (Days and Clouds, 2007), and will feature a Closing Night tribute to Paolo Sorrentino (This Must Be the Place, 2011) that includes a screening of his new film The Great Beauty.   NIC 2013 will screen a total of 14 new films, including a three-film spotlight of recent Neapolitan cinema and eight terrific features by up-and-coming directors entered in the City of Florence Award competition.  Decided by audience ballot, this annual award is announced at Closing Night on Sunday, November 17.  There is also a fabulous Closing Night Party at 1300 On Fillmore, known for Chef David Lawrence’s inspired soul food and its smooth jazz.  The program eases into weekend by offering two films on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings starting and four films on both Saturday and Sunday.

NIC provides the opportunity not only to see these films before they are widely available (and some will always be difficult to find outside Italy) but also to experience them presented by directors, actors, producers and other involved parties, and to participate in lively Q&A’s about the films. Attending this year: Silvio Soldini, director, Garibaldi’s Lovers (Opening Night film); Paolo Sorrentino, director, The Great Beauty (Closing Night film); Stefano Mordini, director, Steel; and actor Luigi Maria Burruano who appears in The Ideal City.   Thematically, this year’s NIC delves into issues of economic instability, cultural and familial conflict and metropolitan living.

NIC is organized by the San Francisco Film Society, in collaboration with New Italian Cinema Events (nicefestival.org) and Italian Cultural Institute, San Francisco, under the auspices of the Consulate General of Italy. NIC is one of more than 200 participating events taking place in more than 50 American cities this year in recognition of 2013 The Year of Italian Culture in the United States.

The charming venue, Clay Theatre, situated on the busting Fillmore Street, was built in 1910 and is one of the oldest theatres in San Francisco (refurbished with comfortable new seats).

ARThound recommends:

Thursday 6:45 pm: There Will Come a Day (Un giorno devi andare) (Georgio Diritti, Italy/France 2013)

Having suffered the double whammy of losing her baby and then being abandoned by her husband for her inability to have children, soulful Augusta (Jasmine Trinca) flees Italy for the Brazilian Amazon to restore some meaning to her life.  There, hoping to do aid work, she joins up with Franca, a hard-line Catholic whose conversion tactics clash with her own spiritual values.  As the two women float down the river in a houseboat ministering to indigenous peoples, Augusta grows increasingly frustrated and leaves.  She ultimately ends up in the favelas in the port city of Manaus doing work that seems authentic and right for her.  Depicting Augusta’s journey with compassion and complexity and an often astonishing visual magnificence, director Giorgio Diritti’s second feature film is a work of great beauty about finding one’s place in this world, something all of us grapple with.  Diritti (The Man Who Will Come, SFIFF 2010) also address important issues like the surge in World Evangelism, the displacement of poor Brazilians (in preparation for the World Cup and Olympics), the Amazon’s fragile ecology, and the widening disparity between rich and poor.  Augusta’s story is delicately interwoven with that of her mother and new adoptive sister whose set-backs and own emotional wounding make for a compelling story of suffering, growth, and spiritual healing.  Features aerial shots of the grandeur of the Amazon.  110 minutes.

 

Sunday 6:00 pm Closing Night Film: The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza, Paolo Sorrentino, Italy/France 2013)

(Sunday 6:00 pm Closing Night Film) The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza, Paolo Sorrentino, Italy/France 2013)  In Italian, “grande bellezza,” like “grande tristezza,” can relate to love, sex, art, or death.  In Paolo Sorrentino’s swooning epic, it refers to Rome, and Sorrentino evokes the eternal city with exacting panache, melancholy, and knowing.  It’s also been hailed as a very timely reflection on the excesses and stagnation of Italy in the era of prime minister Berlusconi.  The film premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where it was a contender for the Palme d’Or and has been selected as the Italian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.  It reunites Sorrentino with his favorite leading man, Toni Servillo, Italy’s leading stage and screen actor, who has starred in three of his previous films— films One Man Up (2001), The Consequences of Love (2004), and Il Divo (2008).  Servillo plays aging Roman playboy Jep Gambardella, a man who wrote one promising novel in his youth and, since then, has lived on its fumes.  A cultivated gentleman by day; at night, Jep chases away death and introspection by hosting wild parties to the stylish elite at night.  Following his 65th birthday and a shocking news about a long lost love, Jep looks beyond his shallow and amusing world to find a timeless Roman landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty—a classic in the high Italian style of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Antonioni’s La Notte.  (142 mins.)

New Italian Cinema 2013 line up:

WEDNESDAY/NOVEMBER 13
6:15pm Opening Night Film: Garibaldi’s Lovers (Silvio Soldini, 2012) filmmaker attending*
9:00pm Napoli 24 (Multiple Directors, 2010) Neapolitan Retrospective*

THURSDAY/NOVEMBER 14
6:30pm Balancing Act (Ivano De Matteo, 2012)
6:45pm There Will Come a Day (Georgio Diritti, 2013)

FRIDAY/NOVEMBER 15
6:30pm Steel (Stefano Mordini, 2012)  filmmaker attending*
9:00pm Cosimo and Nicole (Francesco Amato, 2013)

SATURDAY/NOVEMBER 16
12:15pm We Believed (Mario Martone, 2010)  Neapolitan Retrospective*
4:15pm Ali Blue Eyes (Claudio Giovannesi, 2012)
6:30pm Out of the Blue (Edorado Leo, 2013)
9:00pm The Interval (Leonardo di Costanzo, 2012)

SUNDAY/NOVEMBER 17
1:00pm Gorbaciof (Stefano Incerti, 2010)  Neapolitan Retrospective*
3:00pm The Ideal City (Luigi Lo Cascio, 2012)  Luigi Maria Burruano, actor, attending*
6:00pm Closing Night Film: The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013) filmmaker attending*
9:15pm Closing Night Reception at 1300 on Fillmore
9:30pm One Man Up (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)

Details: New Italian Cinema is November 13-17, 2013 at San Francisco’s Landmark Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore Street, San Francisco. (Please click here for a map of the location.) Film tickets $12 for SFFS members, $14 general, $13 seniors, students and persons with disabilities, $10 children (12 and under); Closing Night film and party tickets $20 for SFFS members, $25 general; Fall Season CineVoucher 10-Packs $110 for SFFS members, $130 general.  Purchase tickets online here.

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

French Cinema Now starts Thursday— 10 of the best new French-language films in a four-day series at San Francisco’s historic Clay Theatre

Claire Denis’ “Bastards” is a revenge drama and dark commentary on late capitalism, shot in Paris, with cinematography by Agnès Godard.  Vincent London plays a sea captain gone AWOL to avenge his brother-in-law’s suicide and rescue his family. Chiara Mastroianni (daughter of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Denueve) plays Lisbon’s married lover who has trapped herself in a disturbing marriage for the sake of her child.  Screens Sunday at French Cinema Now, November 7 – 10, 2013, at Landmark's Clay Theatre in San Francisco. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

Claire Denis’ “Bastards” is a revenge drama and dark commentary on late capitalism, shot in Paris, with cinematography by Agnès Godard. Vincent London plays a sea captain gone AWOL to avenge his brother-in-law’s suicide and rescue his family. Chiara Mastroianni (daughter of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Denueve) plays Lisbon’s married lover who has trapped herself in a disturbing marriage for the sake of her child. Screens Sunday at French Cinema Now, November 7 – 10, 2013, at Landmark’s Clay Theatre in San Francisco. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

The sixth annual French Cinema Now (FCN) series begins Thursday, November 7, at San Francisco’s Landmark Clay Theatre and offers four glorious days dedicated to significant new works of francophone cinema from France, Belgium, Quebec and anywhere else the sweet sound of the French language is heard. This year, FCN screens 10 films and includes an opening night post-screening soiree with French-inspired bites and wine at 1300 On Fillmore, known for Chef David Lawrence’s inspired soul food and its smooth jazz. The program eases into weekend by offering two films on both Thursday and Friday evenings and five films on both Saturday and Sunday, with some repeats on the weekend.

The four-day festival is organized by the San Francisco Film Society, in association with the French American Cultural Society, the Consulate General of France in San Francisco.  The selections were handled by Rachel Rosen, SFS, Director of Programming, whose choices for this series and the larger annual SFIFF (San Francisco International Film Festival) reflect keen intuition for mixing the unusual and the flavor of the moment with the timelessness of great storytelling and cinematography.  Several of these French films had their premieres
at Cannes and are being shown for the first (and only) time in the Bay Area.  The charming venue, the mighty Clay Theatre, situated on the busting Fillmore Street, was built in 1910 and is one of the oldest theatres in San Francisco (refurbished with comfortable new seats).

From the established talents of such notable filmmakers as Claire Denis, Nicolas Philibert and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi to new, emerging talent like Sébastien Betbeder, Katell Quillévéré and Axelle Ropert, French Cinema Now 2013 has something for cinephiles of all tastes.  Romantic triangles, unusual familial conflicts and examinations of sexuality—subjects French filmmakers are known for handling with particular skill—feature prominently, and Europe’s biggest stars such as Louis Garrel (A Castle in Italy), Vincent Lindon and Chiara Mastroianni (Bastards) appear with the region’s up-and-coming actors like Sara Forestier (Suzanne) and Vincent Macaigne (2 Autumns, 3 Winters).

OPENING NIGHT: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7   

7:00 pm 2 Autumns, 3 Winters Sébastien Betbeder (2 automnes 3 hivers, France 2013)      Sébastien Betbeder, whose debut Nights with Theodore was the winner of the FIPRESCI prize at this spring’s SFIFF, returns with this offbeat story of thirty-somethings navigating whatever crisis comes between quarter- and mid-life. Arman and Benjamin are friends from art school. Arman first meets Amélie when he bumps into her, literally, while jogging. His casual attempts to meet her again fail until one night when dramatic circumstances reunite them, intertwining the lives of all three. Playfully told, despite the serious nature of some of its events, 2 Autumns, 3 Winters applies indie charm to the vagaries of life. Written by Sébastien Betbeder. Cinematography by Sylvain Verdet. With Vincent Macaigne, Maud Wyler, Bastien Bouillon. 93 min. In French with subtitles. Film Movement. 

A scene from Sébastien Betbeder's “2 Autumns, 3 Winters” which screens Thursday and opens French Cinema Now, November 7 – 10, 2013, at Landmark's Clay Theatre in San Francisco.  Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

A scene from Sébastien Betbeder’s “2 Autumns, 3 Winters” which screens Thursday and opens French Cinema Now, November 7 – 10, 2013, at Landmark’s Clay Theatre in San Francisco. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

9:15 pm Opening Night reception A post-screening soiree sponsored by TV5 Monde with French-inspired bites and sponsored wine at 1300 On Fillmore (1300 Fillmore at Eddy).

9:15 pm A Castle in Italy
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (Un château en Italie, France 2013)
In her third film, director, actress and writer Valeria Bruni Tedeschi continues to mine her own experience to portray the lives and crises of the bourgeoisie. Here she plays Louise, an actress tiring of her profession and longing for motherhood. When she runs into younger actor Nathan (VBT’s former real-life beau Louis Garrel) on a film set, he pursues her relentlessly, but he’s not particularly interested in fathering a child. As she has done in her prior work, Bruni Tedeschi presents the problems of the rich and famous without apology but with refreshing nuance and humor, and surrounds herself with a formidable cast. Written by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Agnès de Sacy, Noémie Lvovsky. Cinematography by Jeanne Lapoirie. With Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Louis Garrel, Filippo Timi. 104 min. In French and Italian with subtitles. Films Distribution.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's “A Castle in Italy” is packed with raw emotion as it delves into the lives of the bourgeois.  The brother (Ludovic) is struggling with imminent death and the sister (Louise) is 43 and aching to have a child.   The family is selling off the castle, a tie to the deceased father.  Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s “A Castle in Italy” is packed with raw emotion as it delves into the lives of the bourgeois. The brother (Ludovic) is struggling with imminent death and the sister (Louise) is 43 and aching to have a child. The family is selling off the castle, a tie to the deceased father. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 8

7:00 pm Rendezvous in Kiruna
Anna Novion (Rendez-vous à Kiruna, France 2012)
Ernest is working on a major architectural project at his firm when he receives an unwanted call from Sweden. His biological son whom he has never met has died in a boating accident and, with the mother away, Ernest must come to Lapland and identify the body. Although he protests that he has no emotional connection to the dead youth, he ends up on a long drive north during which he picks up Magnus, a young Swedish man on his way to visit his grandfather. Director Anna Novion’s interest in Bergman and her own Swedish heritage add a quiet flair to this story of unavoidable emotional ties. Written by Olivier Massart, Anna Novion. Cinematography by Pierre Novion. With Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Anastasios Soulis. 97 min. In French, Swedish and English with subtitles. Pyramide International.

A scene from Anna Novion's “Rendezvous in Kiruna,” playing at French Cinema Now, November 7 - 10 at Landmark's Clay Theatre.  Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

In Anna Novion’s quiet drama, “Rendezvous in Kiruna,” a man receives an unwanted call from Sweden informing him that his biological son, whom he has never met, has died in an accident and he must identify the body. Screens at French Cinema Now on Friday and Sunday. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.


9:30 pm Michael Kohlhaas
Arnaud des Pallières (France/Germany 2013)
Arnaud des Pallières’ austere and visually splendid medieval-era drama tells the story of Michael Kohlhaas (Mads Mikkelsen), a horse trader who is one day forced by a ruthless Baron to give over two of his prize steeds. When the nobleman’s subsequent mistreatment of the horses is revealed, Kohlhaas demands justice. But when a nobility-favoring court rules against him, and the Baron and his henchmen commit other hideous acts, Kohlhaas turns to the sword and crossbow for his revenge. Though the themes and moral conflicts will be familiar to Game of Thrones fans, the remarkable style recalls Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac. Written by Christelle Berthevas, Arnaud des Pallières. Cinematography by Adrien Debackere, Jeanne Lapoirie. With Mads Mikkelsen, Delphine Chuillot, Bruno Ganz, Denis Lavant. 122 min. In French and German with subtitles. Music Box Films.  

In Arnaud des Pallieres' “Michael Kohlhaas,” a 16th century horse merchant (Mads Mikkelsen) is mistreated by those in power and seeks revenge and justice.  Screens Friday, Nov 8, at French Cinema Now at Landmark's Clay Theatre. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

In Arnaud des Pallieres’ “Michael Kohlhaas,” a 16th century horse merchant (Mads Mikkelsen) is mistreated by those in power and seeks revenge and justice. Screens Friday, Nov 8, at French Cinema Now at Landmark’s Clay Theatre. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 9

2:30 pm A Castle in Italy    (see Thursday, 11/7)

4:45 pm Miss and the Doctors   Axelle Ropert (Tirez la langue, mademoiselle, France 2013, 102 min)

7:00 pm Suzanne   Katell Quillévéré (France 2013, 91min)

9:30 pm Stranger by the Lake   Alain Guiraudie (L’inconnu du lac, France 2013, 97 min)

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 10

1:15 pm House of Radio
Nicolas Philibert (La maison de la radio, France/Japan 2013, 99 min)
Master documentarian Nicolas Philibert’s latest takes a delightful and surprisingly humorous look at public radio, French style. Inside an unusual round building in Paris is Radio France, comprised of several premiere stations. Luckily for us, these bustling offices are full of great characters both known (Umberto Eco in for an on-air interview) and unknown (a news manager who gleefully sorts through grisly news briefs, the director of a radio drama, a telephone operator who screens for a call-in show). Mixed in with the quiz shows, live musical performances and sports reporting, they form the fabric of a beautifully observed and pleasurable view of a public institution and beloved medium. Cinematography by Katell Djian. 99 min. In French with subtitles. Kino Lorber.


3:30 pm Rendezvous in Kiruna   (see Friday, 11/8)
6:00 pm Vic+Flo Saw a Bear  
Denis Côté (Vic+Flo ont vu un ours, Canada 2013, 95 min)
8:30 pm Bastards
Claire Denis (Les salauds, France 2013)
Claire Denis’ “Bastards” is a dark and elliptical revenge drama shot in Paris with cinematography by Agnès Godard.  It screens Sunday at French Cinema Now, November 7 – 10, 2013, at Landmark’s Clay Theatre in San Francisco. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

Claire Denis’ troubled and troubling new film, highlighted by Agnès Godard’s masterful cinematography and Stuart Staples’ (of Tindersticks) evocative score, begins with rain and death and rarely lets up from there. For reasons at first mysterious, a sea captain named Marco Silvestri (Vincent Lindon) arrives in Paris and rents an empty apartment. Living directly downstairs are business tycoon Edouard Laporte (Denis regular Michel Subor) and his mistress Raphaëlle (Chiara Mastroianni), whose lives will intersect with Marco’s in dark and devastating ways. Denis’ latest is an angry and upsetting film, detailing a world where money and the power it wields can have poisonous and far-reaching effects. Written by Jean-Pol Fargeau, Claire Denis. Cinematography by Agnès Godard. With Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille, Michel Subor, Lola Créton. 100 min. In French with subtitles. IFC Sundance Selects.

 

For full program information and scheduling for Saturday and Sunday, click here.

Details: French Cinema Now is November 7-10, 2013 at San Francisco’s Landmark Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore Street, San Francisco.  Film tickets $12 for SFFS members, $14 general, $13 seniors, students and persons with disabilities, $10 children (12 and under); Opening Night film and party tickets $20 for SFFS members, $25 general; Fall Season CineVoucher 10-Packs $110 for SFFS members, $130 general.  Purchase tickets online here.

November 5, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival opens Thursday night with a captivating family drama and continues with 14 days of film from all corners of the globe

A scene from Joshua Oppenheimer's “Act of Killing,” a documentary executive produced by Werner Herzog, that paints an extraordinary portrayal of the Indonesian genocide.  In Indonesia, a land ruled by gangsters, death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes and the filmmakers challenge them to re-enact their real-life mass killings in the style of the American movies they love.  Playing at SFIFF 56.  Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Joshua Oppenheimer’s “Act of Killing,” a documentary executive produced by Werner Herzog, that paints an extraordinary portrayal of the Indonesian genocide. In Indonesia, a land ruled by gangsters, death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes and the filmmakers challenge them to re-enact their real-life mass killings in the style of the American movies they love. Playing at SFIFF 56. Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF56) opens Thursday and runs for 15 days, featuring 158 films and live events from 51 countries—67 narrative features, 28 documentary features, 63 shorts, over a dozen juried awards, and over 100 participating filmmakers present.  Organized by the San Francisco Film Society, this is THE premiere festival for film in the Bay Area and is well-known for its emphasis on experimental storytelling, its support of new filmmakers and for championing independent films that are unlikely to screen elsewhere in the Bay Area.  One of the joys of attending SFIFF is getting to see these films the way they were meant to be seen–on a big screen, in digital projection—and, in many cases, getting to participate in Q&A’s with their directors and actors, most of whom reside in other countries.  SFIFF also distinguishes itself with excellent live onstage special events that feature filmmakers in enthralling moderated discussions.  While its parties are great, this festival is all about film.  In addition to this festival overview, stay turned to ARThound for coverage of Iranian films and art-related films.

BIG NIGHTS:

This year both opening and closing night films address relationships and family and the dirty little secrets that can drive huge wedges in supposedly sacred bonds. OPENING NIGHT  (Thursday, April 24) kicks off with Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s emotional drama What Maisie Knew (USA 2012) starring Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgård.  The film explores the collateral damage

Juliette Moore and Onata Aprile in a scene from Scott McGehee and David Siegel's “What Maisie Knew” which opens the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 25 - May 9, 2013. Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Juliette Moore and Onata Aprile in a scene from Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s “What Maisie Knew” which opens the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 25 – May 9, 2013. Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

 of divorce through the eyes of six year-old Maisie (Onata Aprile) who is silent but, like a sponge, soaks up all the toxic waste her negligent parents put out.  When they do succeed in splitting, they re-partner rapidly. Maisie attaches quite readily to her mother’s new husband, Lincoln, a bartender (Alexander Skarsgård) who has no obvious child-rearing skills but rises to the occasion.  Not surprisingly, this crushing portrait of affluence, indifference, self-absorption, hope and innocence shows that you can’t choose the family you are born into but you’d be better off if you could.  (opens SFIFF56 on Thursday, April 25, 2013, 7  p.m. Castro Theatre, followed by a gala party at Temple Nightclub )

This year’s CENTERPIECE is Saturday, May 4, and celebrates Jacob Kornbluth and his insightful Inequality For All (USA 2013), featuring local UC Berkeley economist Robert Reich, one of the world’s leading experts on work and the economy, Clinton’s former Labor Secretary and named one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last decade by Time magazine.  This powerful documentary, winner of the Special Jury Award at this year’s Sundance festival, makes the argument that capitalism has fatally abandoned the middle classes while making the super-rich even richer.  Based on Reich’s bestselling Aftershock (2011, Vintage Press) which explores the roots of American economic stagnation and blames lack of middle class prosperity and spending, the highly entertaining film is billed as An Inconvenient Truth of the economy.  (Screens Saturday, May 4, 6:30 PM, Kabuki, followed by a party at Roe nightclub from 8:30 -11 PM)

A scene from Richard Linklater's “Before Midnight,” which follows Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy), who first met on a train to Vienna (“Before Sunrise”) and reconnected in Paris nine years later (“Before Sunset”), and now another nine years have passed and they are navigating the complications of careers, kids, a long-term committed relationship and unfulfilled dreams. Closing night film at SFIFF 56.  Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight,” which follows Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy), who first met on a train to Vienna (“Before Sunrise”) and reconnected in Paris nine years later (“Before Sunset”), and now another nine years have passed and they are navigating the complications of careers, kids, a long-term committed relationship and unfulfilled dreams. Closing night film at SFIFF 56. Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

CLOSING NIGHT: The festival closes with a live on-stage discussion featuring celebrated indie director Richard Linklater (Bernie, SFIFF55 2012) and actress Julie Delpy in conversation about their latest film Before Midnight  (USA 2013), the third film in Linklater’s romantic trilogy starring Delpy and Ethan Hawke.  The film was raved about at Sundance.  It’s now eighteen years later and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Delpy), the couple who met on that train from Budapest to Vienna in Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995), are vacationing in Greece and living in Paris as a middle-aged couple with two twin girls, and negotiating all the minefields of a committed long-term relationship.  He’s got a young son living in the States with his remarried ex-wife and the pressure of holding it all together and remaining true to their own creative drives has left them exhausted. Before Midnight catches the couple in random conversation that oscillates between clever banter and passive-aggressive swipes and then, suddenly, takes the plunge to full-on below-the-belt game-changing blows.  All unfolds as they are vacationing in Greece—beautiful, troubled, ancient, modern—it too becomes a character in the film.  Before Midnight screens as the Closing Night film at the Castro Theatre on May 9. The screening and conversation will be followed by a celebration party.

ARThound’s top picks: 

Below are capsule reviews of my top picks from this year’s line-up.  Thematically, you can go in any direction your taste takes you.  This festival has something for everyone.  I am focusing on films that tell great and important stories that you aren’t likely to see screened anywhere else.   Stayed tuned to ARThound for full reviews in the coming days.

Jem Cohen, recipient of the 2013 POV Award at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 25 - May 9, 2013.  Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Jem Cohen, recipient of the 2013 POV Award at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 25 – May 9, 2013. Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society

Museum Hours (Jem Cohen, (2012, USA 107 min) New York based filmmaker Jem Cohen, who over the past 30 years has made over 60 films, will be presented with this year’s POV Award (2013 Persistence of Vision Award). Cohen will appear in conversation before a screening of his latest feature film Museum Hours, a delicately-paced but psychologically vivid film where ideas and environment are as important as the actors.  The story captures a random encounter between Johann (Robert Sommer) a middle-aged museum guard at Vienna’s grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum, who, over the years, has nearly melded into his splendid surroundings and watches the visiting crowds looking at art works with detachment, and Anne (Canadian songwriter Mary Margaret O’Hara), a woman of roughly the same age who’s visiting Vienna out of duty—she tending to her dear ill cousin and coping with grief.  Sensing Anne’s isolation in the big city, a physically overwhelming sensation that reflects her inner turmoil, Johann breaks from his normal detachment and quickly bonds with her and keeps her company around Vienna.  The museum itself also becomes a character, revealing itself and its rich treasures and, in turn, stimulating a rich dialogue between these two seemingly very ordinary individuals who have a remarkably palpable rapport.  In much the same way that one can pass by or become completely engrossed in a painting, Johann and Anne come into sharp focus as individuals, discussing an accumulation of topics best summarized as the art of living life.  (POV Award, conversation and screening Sunday, April 28, 2013, 5:30 PM Kabuki)

The Act of Killing:  (Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark, Norway, England, 2012, 116 minutes) In this chilling and highly-inventive new documentary, executive produced by Errol Morris (The Fog of War) and Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), the filmmakers give us Indonesia, like it’s never been seen before.  In 1965-66, Suharto’s anti-communist purge following a failed coup attempt led to the slaughter of an estimated 500,000 people, alleged to be communists.  The pretext for this mass genocide was the assassination of six army generals on the night of October 1, 1965 by The Thirtieth of September Movement made up of some disaffected junior Indonesian Armed Forces Officers. Suharto launched a counter-attack and drove the Movement from Jakarta and then accused the Communist Party of masterminding the Movement.  He then went on to orchestrate a purge of all persons deemed Communists.  Under Suharto’s rule, anti-communism became the state religion, complete with sacred sites, rituals and dates and a sophisticated campaign of controlling the media and planting false stories presenting the opposition as murderers collectively responsible for exaggerated crimes against the State.  The mass killings were skipped over in most Indonesian history books and have received little introspection by Indonesians and comparatively little international attention.   Until Now.  The filmmakers brazenly invited the death squad leaders who carried out these killings, and are now celebrated heroes, to reenact the real life mass killing in the style of the movies they love best.  The result—“An extraordinary portrayal of genocide.  To the inevitable question: what were they thinking, Joshua Oppenheimer provides an answer. Its starts as a dreamscape, an attempt to allow the perpetrators to re-enact what they did, then something truly amazing happens.  The dream dissolves into night mare and then into bitter reality.” (Errol Morris)  (Screens Sat, April 27, 9:15 PM, Kabuki AND Thursday, May 2, 8:55 PM BAM/PFA)

A River Changes Course (Kalyanee Mam, Cambodia/USA 2012, 83 min, GGA Documentary Feature Contender):  If you’ve been to Cambodia, chances are you landed in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap via a transfer from Hanoi or Thailand and hit the breathtaking Angkor Wat, one of the most spectacular sites on earth, and then left.  No matter how little time you spent there though, it’s impossible to overlook the pace of development that is displacing traditional culture and the life and work patterns of the vast majority of Cambodians.  Kalyanee Mam’s new documentary, shot in gorgeous cinéma vérité style, is a moving and intimate portrait of the rapidly vanishing world of rural rice farmers and fisherman told through three Cambodian families who are struggling in the face of rapid and uneven modernization.  

A scene from Kalyanee Mam's award-winning documentary “A River Changes Course,” playing at SFIFF 56.  In a small village outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Khieu Mok must leave and find work in a garment factory to support her familyʼs mounting debt. But life in the city proves no better and Khieu finds herself torn between her obligations to send money home and her duty to be at home with her family. Photo: Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

A scene from Kalyanee Mam’s award-winning documentary “A River Changes Course,” playing at SFIFF 56. In a small village outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Khieu Mok must leave and find work in a garment factory to support her familyʼs mounting debt. But life in the city proves no better and Khieu finds herself torn between her obligations to send money home and her duty to be at home with her family. Photo: Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

Mam spent many months deep in the Cambodian countryside capturing the daily rhythms of life there.  She built trusting relationships with and then filmed two female breadwinners and a fishing family, all challenged by the plight of diminishing yields and increasing costs of living.    Her thoughtful film was the first by a Cambodian to have its premiere at Sundance, where it was won the World Cinema Grand jury Awrd.  The Yale and UCLA Law School-educated cinematographer for the Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, does not believe the answer to her native country’s problems lie in retaining all old traditions though.  This child of refugees who escaped Pol Pot’s hellish regime and ultimately landed in the U.S.. gives the path forward thoughtful consideration.   (Screens Saturday, April 27, 7 PM, Kabuki AND Monday, April 29 6:30 PM, BAM/PFA AND Sunday, May 5 1 PM, New People) 

Downpour (Ragbar): (Bahram Beyzaie, Iran, 1971, 128 min)  Every year SFIFF screens a recently restored classic of world cinema and this year it’s acclaimed Iranian filmmaker, playwright, stage director and producer Bahram Beyzaie’s 1971 debut feature Downpour. The film was the first Iranian feature to cast a woman in a role other than a prostitute or cabaret girl and ushered in a new filmmaking movement in Iran.  The story revolves around Mr. Hekmati, an educated teacher who is transferred to a school in the south of Tehran, a poor conservative area.  His pupils are unruly and he is forced to expel one of them.  The next day, the boy’s sister, `Atefeh, comes to the school and, thinking that Mr. Hekmati is the headmaster, protests the expulsion.  Another student sees them together and spreads rumors that Mr. Hekmati and `Atefeh are having a love affair.  While trying to set the record straight, he suddenly finds he really is in love with her.  Caught between the hyperactive imaginations of his students and the idle gossip of neighborhood busybodies, the idealistic Mr. Hekmati quickly finds himself at the center of controversy.  Soon all eyes in the community are on him.

A scene from Bahram Beyzai's “Downpour” (1971), hailed as one of the great Iranian films for its poetic approach to editing, dialogue and context.  Restored by World Cinema Foundation in 2011, the film screens at SIFF 56 with Beyzaie in attendance.   Photo: courtesy of the San Francisco Film

A scene from Bahram Beyzaie’s “Downpour” (1971), hailed as one of the great Iranian films for its poetic approach to editing, dialogue and context. Restored by World Cinema Foundation in 2011, the film screens at SFIFF 56 with Beyzaie in attendance. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society

“The tone puts me in mind of what I love best in the Italian neorealist pictures,” writes Martin Scorsese, “and the story has the beauty of an ancient fable—you can feel Beyzaie’s background in Persian literature, theater and poetry.” This screening presents the film as restored in 2011 by the World Cinema Foundation at Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna/L’immagine Ritrovata laboratory.  (Screens Sunday, April 28, 12:15 PM, Kabuki AND Sunday, May 5, 3:20 PM BAM/PFA) Bahram Beyzaie will attend and participate in a Q&A following the April 28th screening.

The Daughter (Alexander Kasatkin, Natalia Nazarova, Russia, 2012, 111 minutes)  Life in the unforgiving provinces is a well-explored theme in Russian literature and film.  Russian duo Natalia Nazarova and Alexander Kasatkin, (Listening to Silence, 2007) throw a serial killer into a provincial village to liven things up for naïve 16 year-old Inna (Maria Smolnikova) who’s strict widowed father (Oleg Tkachev) keeps her on a tight leash.  Enter the rebellious and fun vixen Masha (Yana Osipova), a girl from a slightly larger town, who quickly educates Inna about alcohol, sex and how to have fun.  Also new to the village is the family of an Orthodox priest, brimming with traditional Christian virtues and values, and Inna falls for the priest’s son, Il’ia (Igor’ Mazepa).  Meanwhile a serial killer is on the prowl and the suspense builds as those close to Inna are killed and implicated.  Filmed in Elat’ma and Kasimovo, two small villages in Russia’s Riazan’ region, the film’s evocation of the slowed rhythms of rural life, lingering traditions and modern impingements create a bleak post-Perestroika commentary, with the lingering question of what the role of the Orthodox church should be.  (Screens Friday, April 26, 6:15 PM and Sunday, April 28, 1 PM both at Kabuki AND Monday, May 6, 9 PM at BAM/PFA)

SFIFF56 DETAILS:   SFIFF 56 runs April 25-May 9, 2013.  5 Screening Venues: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post Street, San Francisco; New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco; Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Theatre, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley.  Event Venues (all San Francisco): Bimbos 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Avenue; Roe, 651 Howard Street; Rouge, 1500 Broadway; Ruby Skye, 420 Mason Street; Temple Nightclub and Ki Restaurant, 540 Howard Street

Tickets: $15 for most films with a variety of multiple screening passes.  Special events generally start at $20
More info: (415) 561-5000, www.festival.sffs.org

April 24, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

French Cinema Now, starts Wednesday and offers a week of the best new French film, at San Francisco at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema

In French-Swiss director Ursula Meier’s “Sister” (L’enfant d’en haut), self-absorbed Louise (Léa Seydoux) is supported by her crafty twelve-year-old brother (Kacey Mottet Klein) who steals ski equipment from wealthy tourists at a posh ski chalet and re-sells it. The film won the Silver Bear at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival and screens on Tuesday, October 30, 2012, closing French Cinema now. Image courtesy: SFFS.

When it comes to French film, nothing beats French Cinema Now, the San Francisco Film Society’s annual October homage to Francophile cinema. This year, the week-long festival screens 10 films and begins on Wednesday, October 24, and runs through Tuesday, October 30, 2012.  Programming runs in the evenings on weekdays and starts in the afternoon on Friday through Sunday.

Opening Night kicks off with Noémie Lvovsky’s comedy Camille Rewinds (Camille redouble), the wry French reply to our Peggy Sue Got Married, which has stressed out 40-something Camille being informed by her husband of 25 years, Éric (Samir Guesmi), that he’s done with their marriage. When Camille passes out drunk, she wakes up in a hospital room back in 1985 and appears to everyone as a 15-year-old girl but she has the consciousness and memories of her 40-year-old self. She revels in being reunited with her deceased parents and finds high school a hoot (walkmen but no cell phones).  Despite knowing everything that will happen and should be avoided, like a fist kiss with her first love, her husband to be, this gentle comedy has her going ahead anyway. Director Noémie Lvovsky will attend.  Following the screening, the festival officially opens with a party at Credo, open to the public.

The festival closes with French-Swiss director Ursula Meier’s Sister (L’enfant d’en haut), the winner of the Silver Bear at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival and Switzerland’s official nominee for Oscar consideration.  The film set in Le Valais, a French-speaking part of Switzerland where the mountains serve as a seasonal retreat for affluent skiers and the village below the poor who are supported by tourism.  Scrappy 12-year-old Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) supports himself and his older sister Louise (Léa Seydoux) by stealing ski equipment on the slopes and re-selling it.   Meir, who directed young Klein in a supporting role in Home (2009), excels at family dynamics and coaxes naturalistic and interesting performances out of Klein and Seydoux, who for all purposes seem a screwed up sibling match made in heaven.  While Seydoux needs no introduction after starring next to Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) , her riveting performance as a palace servant to Diane Kruger’s Marie Antoinette in Benoît Jacquot’s lush historical drama Farewell, My Queen, (Les adieux à la reine) (2012) (screened at SFIFF 55) demonstrated her emotional resonance as one of France’s leading young actresses. This young woman, capable of mesmerizing glances, is not to be missed. But in all fairness, the film gains all its pop from young Kacey Mottet, who plays the hustling young urchin with such intensity and bravado, you’ll want to go home and watch him as a 9-year-old in Home (Maison) on Netflix, for which he won the Swiss Film Award for best Emerging Actor.   Meier will be in attendance.

ARThound recommends:  

Salome Blechmans experiences religious visions about crucifixion in Djinn Carrenard’s “DONOMA,” playing at French Cinema Now, October 24 – 30 at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema.

Donoma: Haitian-born, Paris-based filmmaker Dijnn Carrénard’s breakout first feature, rumored to be shot with 150 euros (and a lot of goodwill) is one of the reasons this film festival exists—it captures the French cinema right now.  Winner of the prestigious Louis Delluc Prize (Prix Louis-Delluc) for 2011, it has a fascinating storyline that dissects love, faith and identity through a series of intersecting multicultural relationships of teens and youngish twenty-somethings, all teetering on implosion.  If Sister sounds good, this gem offers an equally dark, but far more raw portrait of modern life that takes place outside the confines of family.  And there’s something very intriguing about the intimacies transgressed upon.Opening the film is a young couple who at first seem pretty normal—Salma’s (Salome Blechmans) the daughter of rich parents and Dacio (Vincent Perez) is poor and they get into it when he comes on to her and she refuses him.  We soon discover she’s got problems that money can’t solve—disturbing visions about crucifixion.  There’s a teacher (Emilia Derou-Bernal) in a Spanish foreign language school who comes on to Dacio, who is her student and third story involving a shy photographer and recent immigrant from Ghana (Laura Kpegli) who uses her camera voyeuristically to fall in love.  A lot of the dialogue, conducted in Gallic  inner-city slang— 30 minutes of which could be cut—feels improvised but it’s very real and gets right into the gritty mess of human communication and emotions which can flip back and forth on a euro.  The up-close camerawork itself feels fresh. Rich color saturation and graininess  heighten the drama of these intensely human moments.  Anyone who’s ever crashed and burned and then done something stupid to add further fuel to the fire (and who hasn’t?) will find something to relate to.  (2010, 140 min, in French and Spanish with English subtitles)  To watch a great trailer, click here.  (Screens Wednesday, October 24 at 6:30 p.m.)

For the full film descriptions, visit sffs.org/cinema.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24
6:30 Camille Rewinds – DIRECTOR IN PERSON
9:00 Opening Night Party
9:15 Donoma

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25
6:30 Aliyah
8:45 My Worst Nightmare (pictured)

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26
4:00 All Together
6:30 Mobile Home – DIRECTOR IN PERSON
9:15 A World Without Women

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27
1:15 All Together
3:30 Camille Rewinds – DIRECTOR IN PERSON
6:30 My Worst Nightmare (pictured)
9:00 Hors Satan

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28
1:30 Donoma
4:30 Louise Wimmer
6:30 A World Without Women
9:00 Mobile Home – DIRECTOR IN PERSON

MONDAY, OCTOBER 29
6:15 Hors Satan
9:00 Aliyah

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30
6:15 Sister – DIRECTOR IN PERSON
9:00 Louise Wimmer

Details:  All films screen at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco.  Tickets are $13 per film general admission; $12 student/senior/disabled.  Click here to buy tickets online.  Advance ticket purchase recommended as the festival is very popular.  Park at One Embarcadero Center for up to 4 hours for $2, with validation from cinema. Otherwise $3/hour from 5 p.m.- midnight.  Garage entrance will be on your immediate left-hand side, right after crossing Sacramento Street.  If crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, allow ample time for southbound traffic congestion leading up to GG bridge and to get to destination and park.
When it comes to French film, nothing beats French Cinema Now, the San Francisco Film Society’s annual October homage to Francophile cinema.  This year, the week long festival screens 9 films and begins on Wednesday, October 24 and runs through Tuesday, October 30, 2012.  Programming runs in the evenings on weekdays and starts in the afternoon on Friday through Sunday.

October 23, 2012 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Italian Cinema prequel: acclaimed Italian Filmmaker, Daniele Luchetti in conversation at Italian Cultural Institute Saturday, November 12, 2011

Italian Filmmaker Daniele Luchetti, subject of a retrospective at New Italian Cinema, November 13- 20, 2011, will speak at the Italian Cultural Institute in San Francisco on Saturday, November 12, 2011, after a screening of his award-winning film "My Brother is an Only Child." Photo: Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

The Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco will host a special event with acclaimed Italian filmmaker Daniele Luchetti on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at the Italian Cultural Institute, located at 814 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.  Luchetti’s film My Brother Is an Only Child (Mio fratello è figlio unico, 2007, 108 min., in Italian with English subtitles) will screen at 3:00 pm, then at 5:00 pm, Luchetti will be interviewed by Rod Armstrong, programmer for the San Francisco Film Society, to discuss the film as well as the broader scope of Luchetti’s work. This special event with Luchetti is a rare opportunity to hear about the filmmaker’s experience in a more intimate setting, just prior to the the 2011 edition of the New Italian Cinema festival, which celebrates Luchetti with a three film tribute.

New Italian Cinema opens Sunday, November 13, 2011, in San Francisco at Landmark’s Embarcadero Cinema with Luchetti’s latest film Our Life (La nostra vita, 2010, 98 min) and runs through November 20, 2011.  The other two films in the Luchetti tribute are It’s Happening Tomorrow (Domani accadrà,1988, 87 min), a philosophical Western set in Tuscany’s Maremma region and Ginger and Cinnamon (Dillo con parole mie, Italy 2003, 103 min), a romantic comedy of flirtation, sex and errors set on the Greek island of Ios. 

Now in its 15th year in San Francisco, New Italian Cinema runs every October and is an excellently curated taste of the best new Italian filmmaking.  In addition to the Luchetti opening night film and tribute, this year’s porgramming will feature eight additional new feature films by up and coming filmmakers who are all vying for the City of Florence Award, as well as the closing night film, Habemus Papam (2011), by acclaimed director Nanni Moretti who was an influential mentor for Luchetti.  The films in this year’s program investigate topics including corporate malfeasance, office politics, rural life and war, as experienced by Italians from every walk of life.   All filmmakers are expected to be in attendance at the Embarcadero for lively Q&A’s with their audiences.  The festival concludes with a fabulous closing night party at Fior d’Italia in North Beach, one of America’s oldest Italian restaurants, established in 1886. 

New Italian Cinema is presented by the San Francisco Film Society, New Italian Cinema Events of Florence, Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco.  Tickets, a full scheule, and further information on New Italian Cinema are available at www.sffs.org 

About Daniele Luchetti:  Daniele Luchetti was born in 1960 in Rome. He first worked as an actor and later as an assistant director to Nanni Moretti.  The first film of his own that he directed, Domani accadrà, received a David di Donatello as best debuting film. He went on to make Il portaborse (1991), featuring Silvio Orlando who is pressed into becoming a lackey speechwriter for a ruthless politician, played by Nanni Moretti. The film was seen as a forecast of the “Mani pulite” corruption scandal that struck Italy the following year, and won four David di Donatello awards. Luchetti is the recipient of dozens of other awards and nominations, including a Nastro d’Argento for best screenplay for My Brother Is an Only Child, and a David di Donatello for best film for Our Life, which was also the only Italian film in competition at the 2010 Cannes Film FestivalLuchetti’s skill as a filmmaker lies in his ability to draw in the viewer and forge a direct relationshiop with his audience through the narrative and characters of his films.

 

My Brother is an Only Child: (Mio fratello è figlio unico), 2007, 108 min: Winner of four David di Donatello Awards (Italian equivalent of an Academy Award)—Best Actor (Elio Germano), Best Supporting Actress (Angela Finocchiaro), Best Screenplay, Best Editing—My Brother is an Only Child, is a hit in its native Italy and screened at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals.  The film reunites director Luchetti with longtime collaborators Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli, screenwriters of the highly-acclaimed epic The Best of Youth (La meglio gioventù) 2003.

Set in a small Italian town in the 1960’s and 70’s, the film tells the story of two brothers who want to change the world — but in completely different ways.  Manrico (Riccardo Scarmaccio), the oldest, is a handsome, charismatic firebrand who becomes the prime mover in the local Communist party.  Accio, (Elio Germano), the younger, more rebellious brother, finds his own contrarian voice by joining the reactionary Fascists. What starts as a typical tale of sibling rivalry becomes the story of the polarizing and paralyzing politics of those turbulent times and, the rift between the brothers is further intensified when Accio realizes that he loves his brother’s girlfriend, Francesca (Diane Fleri) who, like everyone else, is blind to Manrico’s increasingly dangerous ideas.  Addressing the dreams and disillusionments of the 60’s and 70’s, My Brother is an Only Child is set in the exact era of the groundbreaking early classics of Bernardo Bertolucci and Marco Bellochio.  Not only does Luchetti pay explicit homage to those films — “Before the Revolution,” “Fist in the Pocket,” and “China is Near” — he comes very close to matching their beauty, intelligence, and youthful exuberance. (THINKfilm) 

A scene from Daniele Luchetti's "Our Life," the opening night fim at New Italian Cinema. A construction worker, married with two kids and desperately needing money to support his family, faces a devastating blow in this powerful character portrait that earned Elio Germano the Best Actor prize at Cannes. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

About the Italian Cultural Institute:  The Italian Cultural Institute (Istituto Italiano di Cultura, or IIC) of San Francisco promotes Italian language, culture and the best of Italy by disseminating information about Italy, offering scholarships, and presenting cultural events including art exhibitions, film screenings, concerts, lectures, book presentations, poetry readings, round table discussions and other events. Its goal is to foster mutual understanding and cultural cooperation between Italy and the United States. The Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco presents a rotating exhibition schedule, video and book libraries containing Italian books, cds, dvds, journals and newspapers; and information and documentation on cultural matters in Italy.

A scene from “Ginger and Cinnamon,” playing as part of the tribute to Daniele Luchetti at New Italian Cinema. Stefania (Stefania Montorsi) (left) heads off to the Greek Island of Ios with her 14-year-old niece, Martina (Martina Merlino), in a farcical romance. Photo: courtesy of San Francisco Film Society.

The IIC moved in September 2010 to its current location at 814 Montgomery Street, in the historic Jackson Square District of San Francisco. For further information on the IIC and its events, www.iicsanfrancisco.esteri.it.

Details:  Saturday, November 12, 2011, screening of My Brother is an Only Child at 3:00 pm and conversation at 5:00 pm at Istituto Italiano di Cultura, 814 Montgomery St., San Francisco, (415) 788-7142. www.iicsanfrancisco.esteri.it            Tickets:  $10/general, $5/members of the IIC.  Please RSVP to 415-788-7142 ext 18

New Italian Cinema:  Tickets, a full scheule, and further information on New Italian Cinema at www.sffs.org.

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alex Law’s nostalgic charmer “Echoes of the Rainbow” screens Sunday, September 25, 2011 at the new Hong Kong Cinema series at San Francisco Film Society | New People Cinema

Alex Law’s Echoes of the Rainbow, the winner of the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival Crystal Bear will screen this Sunday at the inaugural Hong Kong Cinema series, September 23- 25, 2011, at the San Francisco Film Society’s new theatrical home, San Francisco Film Society | New People Cinema (1746 Post Street, San Francisco) alongside 5 other new films that represent Hong Kong’s current film scene.   Dynamic and global, this film scene includes directors born and raised and shooting in Hong Kong as well directors from elsewhere who are shooting in Hong Kong as well as directors from Hong Kong who are shooting elsewhere—it’s all very dynamic.   And the content is anything but predictable—Hong Kong films are widely known and loved for their action-packed spectacle, but the industry is equally adept at matters from the heart as the Film Society’s first edition of Hong Kong Cinema demonstrates. 

Echoes of the Rainbow (Shui yuet sun tau)(2010) is a tender family saga which evokes the nostalgia of late 1960’s Hong Kong in a story focused on two brothers in a tightly-knit working class family beset by a misfortune that interrupts their family life forever.  Anchoring the story is young actor Buzz Chung, who lights up the screen as the indefatigable eight-year-old Big Ears whose curiosity and sense of play─he walks around with a fish bowl over his head like an astronaut─delight everyone he comes in contact with.   Aarif Lee plays his handsome older brother Desmond who is a star athlete and experiencing the first pangs of love.  The family is poor─the father is a cobbler and his mother works alongside her husband in their modest shop atop which sits their home─but they are happy.  When a storm threatens to trash their store and home, all hell breaks loose as things start to crumble.  Set to the nostalgic music of the Monkeys, and bathed in beautiful light, the film is sure to win the hearts of those who are old enough to remember more innocent times.

Written by Alex Law. Photographed by Charlie Lam. With Buzz Chung, Aarif Lee, Simon Yam, Sandra Ng, Ann Hui. (117 min. In Cantonese, Mandarin and French with subtitles, Mei Ah Entertainment)  Screens Sunday, September 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm.   (Subtitles are easy to read.)

For complete program information visit sffs.org/Screenings-and-Events.

Friday, September 23  Opening Night
6:30 pm Merry-Go-Round

Codirector Clement Cheng in person
Clement Cheng, Yan Yan Mak (Dongfeng po, 2010)
Two women of different generations travel from San Francisco to Hong Kong in this observational drama about the possibility of changing one’s life. Eva is a successful herbalist who returns home when her grandfather dies. Nam is a young woman facing personal difficulties who relocates to pursue a relationship with a man she meets online. As their stories intermingle, we learn about Eva’s first love, Nam’s odd interest in death and an elderly mortuary worker who has important knowledge to pass on to both women. Written by Yan Yan Mak, Clement Cheng. Photographed by Jason Kwan. With Nora Miao, Teddy Robin Kwan, Ella Koon, Lawrence Chou. 124 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Dragonfly J Production.

9:00 pm Opening Night reception with delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine at Superfrog Gallery at New People.

9:45 pm Mr. and Mrs. Incredible  U.S. Premiere
Vincent Kok (San kei hap lui, Hong Kong/China 2011)
Being a retired superhero is a little dull for the protagonists of this delightful action comedy. After cracking a robbery case, Flint and Rouge decide to hang up their masks, move to a remote village and perhaps raise a family. When a martial arts competition comes to town with a supervillain in its midst, the couple must decide whether to resume their old identities. With the playful chemistry of Louis Koo and Sandra Ng, this movie offers entertainment the whole family can enjoy.  Written by Vincent Kok, Fung Min-hun. Photographed by Peter Ngor. With Louis Koo, Sandra Ng, Chapman To, Li Qin. 100 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by We Distribution.

Saturday, September 24
1:30 pm City Under Siege

Benny Chan (Chun sing gai bei, 2011)
Hong Kong Cinema’s nuttiest entry tells the story of a circus troupe whose members are exposed to a chemical toxin left behind by the Japanese in WWII. The mysterious substance gives its victims superhuman strength, and the performers use their new powers to rob banks and wreak havoc, all except the terminally put-upon clown, Sunny (played with comic flair by Aaron Kwok). With standout action, high-tech special effects and cops with secret powers of their own, this is genre-defying entertainment at its best. Written by Benny Chan, Ram Ling Chi Man, Carson Ling Lau Shun Yin. Photographed by Anthony Pun. With Aaron Kwok, Shu Qi, Collin Chou, Wu Jing, Zhang Jingchu. 110 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Universe Films Distribution.
4:00 pm Merry-Go-Round  see 9/23
7:00 pm All About Love   
Ann Hui (De xian chao fan, Hong Kong/China 2010)
This surprising film takes on weighty matters of gender, sexual preferences and childbirth in a playful story of two female lovers who are both pregnant. Twelve years after their initial breakup, successful lawyer Macy and executive assistant Anita reconnect in pregnancy class. Elegantly photographed, with an eye toward the physical and emotional dance that happens between new lovers, Hui’s latest shows that Hong Kong and San Francisco share a similar laissez-faire attitude when it comes to sexual politics. Written by Yeeshan Yang.  Photographed by Charlie Lam.  With Sandra Ng, Vivian Chow, Eddie Cheung, William Chan. 105 min. In Cantonese with subtitles. Distributed by Mega-Vision Pictures.
9:45 pm Punished
Law Wing-cheong (Bou ying, 2011) A powerful businessman and his devoted bodyguard go up against a ruthless group of criminals in this gritty thriller produced by Johnnie To. When the wealthy Mr. Wong’s daughter Daisy is kidnapped, he marshals all his forces to find her. Using his loyal bodyguard, he attempts to root out the perpetrators while also going along with their demands. Through the film’s suspenseful turns, Punished also explores the limitations of vengeance and the difficulties of parents connecting with their kids amid the messiness of divorce. Written by Fung Chih-chiang, Lam Fung. Photographed by Ko Chiu-lam.  With Anthony Wong, Richie Ren, Maggie Cheung Ho-yee, Janice Man, Candy Lo. 94 min. In Cantonese and Mandarin with subtitles. Distributed by Indomina Releasing.

Sunday, September 25
2:00 pm Mr. and Mrs. Incredible
  see 9/23
4:15 pm Echoes of the Rainbow see above

The San Francisco Film Society has played a pioneering role in introducing Hong Kong cinema to Bay Area audiences through its San Francisco International Film Festival, which has shown over 70 Hong Kong films, beginning in 1959 with the screenings of The Kingdom and the Beauty and Tragedy of Love.  The works of leading filmmakers—Fruit Chan, Peter Chan, Teddy Chen, Tsui Hark, Ivy Ho, Stanley Kwan, Clara Law, Andrew Lau, Run Run Shaw, Johnnie To and John Woo—have been featured, and superstars—Jackie Chan, Andy Lau—have been Festival guests.  The championing of Hong Kong cinema will be further augmented by the introduction of Hong Kong Cinema to the Film Society’s Fall Season and the .

Tickets:  San Francisco Film Society members $11; General Admission $13; Student/Senior/Disabled $12.  Tickets can be purchased at San Francisco Film Society | New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco, or SFFS members can pre-purchase tickets online at http://www.sffs.org

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