The San Francisco International Film Festival celebrates its 60th with expanded programming, new venues and name tweaks—Wed, April 5, through Wed, April 19, 2017
The 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival opened Wednesday at the historic Castro Theatre with Gillian Robespierre’s sentimental indie comedy, Landline (2016), and runs for the next 14 days, offering 181 films from 51 countries, 6 world premieres, 57 women directors and upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests. This grand festival, the longest running film festival in the Americas, celebrates its 60th anniversary with a few changes and expanded programming that tackles urgent social issues and captures the immense talent as well as the heart of its Bay Area locale.
New this Year
This mammoth fest is now called “SF International Film Festival,” instead of SFIFF, and that’s because its sponsor, SFFILM, changed its name; it was formerly the San Francisco Film Society. SFFILM’s mission remains to “champion the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area.” Other changes in the festival include: a start date that is two weeks earlier than usual; closing night festivities that occur two days before the festival’s actual end date; the main Festival Box Office is now headquartered in SOMA, in the YBCA Grand Lobby; and the festival itself is spread all over in 14 San Francisco and 1 Berkeley venue, including the Castro Theatre, the Roxie, the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Theater, SFMOMA’s new state of the art Phyllis Wattis Theater, the new Dolby Cinema (on Market St.) and PFA (inside Berkeley’s new BAMPFA).
The sprawl presents a logistics nightmare for those driving in who require parking. Your best bet is to buy all your tickets in advance and plan to see films within walking distance of one another. It’s worth the hassle to get there. Nothing beats seeing a film the way it was meant to be seen—on the big screen with state-of-the-art acoustics and an engaged audience to keep you company. This festival delivers one of the highest ratios of face time with creative talent and flies in special guests from all over the world for nearly every film who participate in engaging post-screening Q & A’s. These are the exchanges that build lifelong memories and a foundation for understanding cinema.
Be on the lookout for a series of high-profile tributes and awards: (Ethan Hawke (April 8, YBCA), Tom Luddy (Mel Novikoff Award, April 9, Castro), Eleanor Coppola (George Gund III Craft of Cinema Award, April 10, SFMOMA), Lynn Hershman Leeson (Persistence of Vision Award, April 11, YBCA), John Ridley (April 12, Alamo Drafthouse), Gordon Gund (April 13, SFMOMA), James Ivory (April 14, SFMOMA), Shah Rukh Khan (April 14, Castro).
There’s an enhanced music and film schedule. This year’s Centerpiece feature is Geremy Jasper’s Patti Cake$, about an aspiring rap star (April 12, Castro). The Man With a Movie Camera with Devotchka (April 13, Castro) combines Dziga Vertov’s 1929 avant-garde trip through three Soviet cities with a live Devotchka performance.)
The festival is also unveiling new programs involving the technology world. An inaugural Creativity Summit will launch with Dr. Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Dsiney Animation Studios giving the State of Cinema address (April 8, Dolby Cinema).
The first weekend is dedicated to parties, special events and major new films. Following that is a week of international and Bay Area cinema mixed with cross-media explorations culminating in the festival’s 60th anniversary commission at Castro on April 16: The Green Fog–A San Francisco Fantasia, an exciting new collaboration by SFFilm and Stanford Live in which the renowned Kronos Quartet will perform a new score by composer Jacob Garchik to accompany a visual collage by filmmaker Guy Maddin. In addition, the festival continues to tip its hat to new and global filmmakers through its awards. Ten narrative features and ten documentary features will compete for the Golden Gate Awards (GGAs) and nearly $40,000 in total prizes.
Stay-tuned, ARThound will next preview the festival’s top films.
When: The 60th SF International Film Festival runs 14 days─ Wednesday, April 5 –Wednesday, April 19, 2017.
Tickets: $15 most films, more for Special Events and Parties which generally start at $20. Passes—the popular CINEVOUCHER 10-pack ($140 general public and $120 for SFFilm members) and the exclusive CINEVISA early admittance to every screening, party, and program (with exception of Film Society Awards Night) ($1350 SFFilm members and $1675 general public). How to buy tickets—purchase online at http://www.sffilm.org/festival/attend/tickets or in person during the festival. Main Festival Box Office: is YBCA Grand Lobby, open daily Thursday, April 6 – Sunday, April 16, noon to 8 pm. During the festival , other screening venues also sell tickets.
Advance ticket purchases absolutely recommended as many screenings go to Rush. Check the festival website to see which films are currently at rush (the list is updated frequently).
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 main festival box, 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.sffilm.org/festival
“Constellation,” a world premiere collaboration between artist Jim Campbell and choreographer Alonzo King celebrates LINES Ballet’s 30th Season
If you saw one of San Francisco-based artist Jim Campbell’s “Exploded Views” installations in the atrium of SFMOMA this past year, chances are you couldn’t forget it. SFMOMA’s Hass Auditorium came alive as thousands of flickering LED spheres hanging from the ceiling, created the illusion of fleeting shadowlike figures that dissolved and resolved as one moved around and beneath the suspended, chandelier-like matrix. Part sculpture, part cinematic screen, the low resolution pieces flirted with the line between representation and abstraction and sucked viewers right into
another world, one where imagination and memory fill in the gaps between what you see and what you think you see to create a complete story. The first film in this series of 4 was a collaboration with Alonzo King’s celebrated LINES Ballet of San Francisco, and, if you positioned yourself on SFMOMA’s second floor landing, you could see magical low res images of King’s dancers moving across the expanse of air and light. Cinematic, elegant, unforgettable.
Now, the two artists are collaborating again as the exciting kick-off of Alonzo King LINES Ballet’s 30th anniversary year. Campbell’s new installation created for the world premiere of “Constellation” is a 20 x 36 foot low res moving image that incorporates a thousand little LED globes hanging in strings like pearls suspended from the light-grid of the LAM Research Theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The dancers constantly move through these strands and interact with the LED balls which serve as pixels for the large images on the screen in the background and a smaller screen in the foreground. The smaller screen, 9 x 12 feet, moves up and down. At times, it is at the level of the dancers and, at times, suspended 10 feet off the ground, above them.
“I was very interested in having the dancers play with and manipulate a physical image,” said Campbell. “It was more about them becoming a part of the images and playing with that boundary. There are times when the nine dancers have part of the image in their hands because they are carrying the balls in their hands.”
Adding to the performance, San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani will sing music of Handel, Richard Strauss, and Vivaldi.
Pre-Performance Balcony Talk: Tomorrow evening (Wednesday, October 24, 2012) prior to the performance, an exclusive conversation in the balcony will take place between artist Jim Campbell and Alonzo King, followed by a Q & A, where audience members will have a chance to ask these two artists about their collaboration.
Stay-tuned to ARThound for an interview with Jim Campbell about this exciting new installation and his collaboration with Alonzo King LINES Ballet.
Details: Performances are Wed | Oct 24 | 7:30pm —Pre-Performance Balcony Talk with Alonzo King and Jim Campbell (6:30pm)
Thu | Oct 25 | 7:30 pm; Fri | Oct 26 | 8 pm; Sat | Oct 27 | 8 pm; and Sun | Oct 28 | 5 pm.
LAM Research Theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is located at 700 Howard Street, at Third Street, San Francisco
General Admission tickets-$65, $55, $40, $30; Student Tickets – $20 – Limited number of student tickets for Oct 24 (ID required.) To purchase tickets online, click here.
Ensemble Parallèle Presents “The Great Gatsby,” a chamber opera with the swagger and pizzazz of the roaring ‘20’s─at Yerba Buena Center, February 10-12, 2012
Ensemble Parallèle is bringing what promises to be a very inventive contemporary opera to Yerba Buena Center’s Novellus Theatre this coming Friday-Sunday (February 10-12, 2012): the world premiere of Jacques Desjardins’ chamber orchestration of composer John Harbison’s “The Great Gatsby.” Based on the beloved 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the opera was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera to celebrate James Levine’s 25th anniversary as its musical director. It premiered in 1999, with just one subsequent performance at the Lyric Opera in Chicago, mainly because it called for an orchestra of 120 musicians. Aware of the need to make Harbison’s important work accessible to performing groups, Ensemble Parallèle, a professional ensemble-in-residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, embraced the project and commissioned its re-orchestration from 120 to 30 musicians, keeping the rich sound of Harbison’s music─ which includes 17 original vernacular pieces─tangos, Charlestons, jazz songs─not your traditional opera to begin with. The cast includes 11 singers─some very well known in the Bay Area and some newcomers. This is the first time in ten years that the piece, which opened to mixed reviews at the Met, will be performed on stage and it is Ensemble Parallèle’s most ambitious project to date. Recognizing music’s power to transform and raise consciousness, this presentation of a classic, with some story enhancements, with should be an exciting event. If you haven’t been to an opera before, the best thing to do is literally jump in─get tickets and go! At 2.25 minutes with one intermission, and all in English, this opera—jazzy and emotionally gripping─should be a great introduction for newcomers. And, if you haven’t been to Yerba Buena Center’s modern Novellus Theatre for a performance, you’re in for a treat. Unlike San Francisco Opera, these seats are much more user friendly and the site lines are exceptional.
The cast looks fabulous. Lyric tenor Marco Panuccio, a newcomer to the Bay Area, is Jay Gatsby. Panuccio portrayed Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon for Lyric Opera of Chicago. Soprano Susannah Biller, a Bay Area favorite and former SF Opera Adler Fellow, with a rich and powerful voice, who portrayed Eurydice in Ensemble Parallèle’s spring 2011 production of Philip Glass’ Orphée, is Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby’s fixation. Baritone Jason Detwiler, who played St. Plan in Ensemble Parallèle’s summer 2011 production of Four Saints in Three Acts, is Nick Caraway, the opera’s narrator. Casting also includes tenor Dan Snyder as Tom Buchanan, Disy’s husband; baritone Bojan Knezevic as the machanic George Wilson; mezzo soprano Erin Neff as his wife Myrtle Wilson and mezzo-soprano Julienne Walker as Jordan Baker. All come together to present the gripping story—in music─of a very shallow lot of characters who make a tragic mess of their indulgent lives. The setting is deco and the drama transpires against the colorful backdrop of the roaring ‘20’s, when American society enjoyed great prosperity, endured Prohibition and the dance music of the day was jazz.
Gatsby marks the fourth major presentation of fully-staged contemporary chamber operas by Ensemble Parallèle’s duo–Artistic Director/Conductor Nicole Paiement and Stage Director and Production Designer Brian Staufenbiel. Gatsby follows last year’s Orphée by Philip Glass, Alban Berg’s Wozzeck in 2010 and Lou Harrison’s Young Caesar in 2007–all to acclaim from audiences and critics. Last August, in conjunction with SFMOMA’s fabulous The Steins Collect, Ensemble Parallèle presented a critically acclaimed production of the rarely performed Four Saints in Three Acts by composer Virgil Thompson and librettist Gertrude Stein. (Read ARThound’s coverage here.)
Paiement founded Ensemble Parallèle in 1994 to perform new music and to collaborate with various artists such as dancers, choreographers, and visual and multimedia artists— as the Ensemble’s name suggests, in parallel. These collaborations have allowed Ensemble Parallèle to reach a wider-ranging and younger audience. In 2007 Ensemble Parallèle began to focus exclusively on contemporary chamber opera, producing works with vitality, edge, and appeal, so important in world of opera.
Gatsby Insights at 7:15 PM, prior to each performance
Run-time: 2.25 hours with one intermission
Sung in English/English Supertitles
Details: All performances are held at Novellus Theatre, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street, San Francisco, 94103
Friday, February 10, 2012
– 8:00 PM
Saturday, February 11, 2012 – 8:00 PM
Sunday, February 12, 2012 – 2:00 PM
Tickets are $35 to $85 and are on sale at the YBCA Box Office. Call 415-978-2787 or order online at:
A Fitzgerald gem to ponder:
I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous, menacing road of a new decade.
It was seven o’clock when we got into the coupe with him and started for Long Island. Tom talked incessantly, exulting and laughing, but his voice was as remote from Jordan and me as the foreign clamor on the sidewalk or the tumult of the elevated overhead. Human sympathy has its limits, and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind. Thirty – the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair. But there was Jordan beside me, who, unlike Daisy, was too wise ever to carry well-forgotten dreams from age to age. As we passed over the dark bridge her wan face fell lazily against my coat’s shoulder and the formidable stroke of thirty died away with the reassuring pressure of her hand.
So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight. (Nick, The Great Gatsby, Chapter 7, pp 307-309)
SFMOMA presents “Four Saints in Three Acts: An Opera Installation,” at YBCA’s Novellus Theater, August 18 through 21, 2011
Among the outtakes from Woody Allen’s recent hit film Midnight in Paris might well have been a scene showing Gertrude Stein being asked by the obscure young American composer Virgil Thomson to create an opera libretto for him. There, in Paris in 1927, began one of America’s quirkiest creative partnerships, yielding not only the unique, wacky, and strangely moving operas Four Saints in Three Acts (1934) and The Mother of Us All (1947), but opening the floodgates for new modernist thought in music, literature, and art in America.
Stein’s typically nonlinear libretto for Four Saints, more focused on the sounds of words than on plot, is a sort of fractured fairy tale starring two 16th-century Spanish saints—the theologian Ignatius of Loyola and the mystic Teresa of Avila—and a gaggle of imaginary cohorts (St. Plan, St. Settlement, St. Plot, St. Chavez, etc.) who have visions of a heavenly mansion, enjoy a celestial picnic, and dance a tango-inflected ballet. Thomson’s accessible music draws upon the snappy rhythms of American speech and the warm melodic shapes of American folksongs and hymns.
On the occasion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s major exhibition The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Bay Area Now 6 (BAN6), SFMOMA in association with YBCA will present a new production of Stein and Thomson’s opera. The new version, titled Four Saints in Three Acts: An Opera Installation, will play at YBCA’s Novellus Theater this Thursday, August 18, through Sunday, August 21, 2011. The 50 minute performance will be preceded by a “A Heavenly Act” (2011), a brand new stand-alone curtain-raiser with an original score by Luciano Chessa and new video and performance elements by Kalup Linzy, inspired by a streamlined 1950s version of Thomson and Stein’s opera. Four Saints, which follows it, will be augmented by video projections from Chessa and Linzy’s opening piece.
“Four Saints is vintage Thomson/Stein, simultaneously All-American and countercultural,” said New York opera dramaturg Cori Ellison. “Avant-garde yet sweetly ingenuous, it’s always been a magnet for the most imaginative theatre and visual artists, from Robert Wilson and Mark Morris on down. I’d say any performance of this rare and charming opera is a must-see.”
SFMOMA in Association with YBCA Presents: Four Saints in Three Acts: An Opera Installation
An Ensemble Parallèle production
Nicole Paiement, conductor/artistic director
Brian Staufenbiel, director
Music by Virgil Thomson and Luciano Chessa, with libretto by Gertrude Stein
Featuring Kalup Linzy
Novellus Theater at YBCA
Preview: Thursday, August 18, 7:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, August 19 and 20, 8 p.m.
Sunday, August 21, 2 p.m.
For tickets ($10–$85) visit ybca.org or call 415.978.2787
The Art of Four Saints in Three Acts, gallery talk
Thursday, August 18, 6:30 p.m. • Contemporary Jewish Museum, Free with museum admission
See original music, art, and ephemera connected with the Gertrude Stein-Virgil Thompson collaboration Four Saints in Three Acts in a gallery talk directly preceding the preview performance of SFMOMA’s new staging of the opera at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories exhibition at Contemporary Jewish Museum, May 12, 2011 – September 6, 2011:
Drawing upon a wealth of rarely seen artistic and archival materials, Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories illuminates Stein’s life and pivotal role in art during the 20th century.
SFMOMA exhibition: The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde, through September 6, 2011
American expatriates in bohemian Paris when the 20th century was young, the Steins — writer Gertrude, her brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael’s wife, Sarah — were among the first to recognize the talents of avant-garde painters like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Through their friendship and patronage, they helped spark an artistic revolution. This landmark exhibition draws on collections around the world to reunite the Steins’ unparalleled holdings of modern art, bringing together, for the first time in a generation, dozens of works by Matisse, Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others. Artworks on view include Matisse’s Blue Nude (Baltimore Museum of Art) and Self-Portrait (Statens Museum, Copenhagen), and Picasso’s famous portrait Gertrude Stein (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
Yerba Buena Neighborhood Celebrates Gertrude Stein, May–September, 2011
Join the Yerba Buena neighborhood this summer in celebrating the life of writer Gertrude Stein and her influence on modern art, literature, and culture. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival will each host related programming: from art exhibitions to opera, poetry readings to salons, there’s definitely a there there. Visit www.sfmoma.org/celebratestein for a complete list of programs, discounts, and members-only specials throughout the neighborhood.
Human Rights Watch Film Festival delivers a powerful message, at Yerba Buena Center Thursday evenings through March 31, 2011
For the last ten years, every March, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts has presented the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, bringing a remarkable selection of films with human rights themes to the Bay Area. This year’s festival begins Thursday, March 10, with the 74 minute “Youth Producing Change,” 10 powerful videos produced by youths across the globe that document their own lives and a human rights crisis they experience every day. The 11 short films were chosen from among 300 submissions by a partnership of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, and the program’s sponsor, Adobe Youth Voices, an educational effort funded by the charitable arm of the software company Adobe Systems. The filmmakers will be in attendance for Q & A after the film. The festival will continue screening a new film every Thursday evening in March, for a total of 4 films.
The Human Right Watch Festival was begun 22 years ago by Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending human rights by focusing attention when rights are violated and giving a voice to the oppressed. The films in the festival were selected for both their artistic merit and human rights content and each poignantly addresses current situations.
This year’s full-length films include a Sundance award winning documentary about the Cambodian genocide, a moving profile of the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s battle for more humane U.S. immigration policy, and an apalling look at prison conditions in Angola. Painstakingly clear in all of these films is that there are powerful interests working to hide the truth about when and where atrocities occur. Film creates a forum for brave individuals on both sides of the lens to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference. Joel Shepard, Film/Video Curator at YBCA explained that YBCA is currently refining its programming to address “engagement, not passive consumption” and that this festival fits neatly into YBCA’s “Encounter” Big Idea that presents works engaged with a social context.
Youth Producing Change, March 10, 2011, 7:00 pm, YBCA Screening Room
Teen filmmakers turn the camera on their own struggles for human rights and invite audiences to experience the world as they do — as a Kenyan teenager living in Africa’s second largest slum, as a 15-year-old girl in India who needs to chose between supporting her family or getting an education or as a 14-year-old Afghan seeking asylum after his father was killed by the Taliban. Youth Producing Change shares ten powerful stories made by teens from across the globe as they share their vision of change. Adobe Youth Voices, Founding Presenter. (2010, 74 min, digital) ) Audio Interview with Youth Producing Change Filmmakers BUY TICKETS »
Enemies Of The People, March 17, 2011, 7:30 pm YBCA Screening Room
By Rob Lemkin And Thet Sambath
Winner of the Sundance World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize,
Enemies of the People follows the intensely personal project of Mr. Thet Sambath, whose parents and brother were among the approximately two million people who perished during the mass killings from 1975 to 1979 at the hands of Cambodia’s Communist Khmer Rouge regime, which was responsible for the deaths of nearly a quarter of the small country’s population. With unprecedented access achieved patiently over years, he gently coaxes groundbreaking confessions from Nuon Chea, the notorious ‘Brother Number Two,’ (Pol Pot’s second in command) and from numerous grassroots killers, now frail seniors living out their final days. As Sambath juggles between objective reportage and his intense personal desire for healing and understanding, he uncovers terrifying personal explanations for the genocide. Somehow, operating like a one man Cambodian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he manages to listen calmly to the perpetrators speak casually about slitting throats and extracting and eating human gall bladder. When he finally does share his truth, the results are healing but ultimately he has lost almost everything dear in life to him. (2009, 94 min, digital) BUY TICKETS »
Last Best Chance, March 24, 2011, 7:30 pm, YBCA Screening Room
By Michael Camerini And Shari Robertson
Last Best Chance is a documentary that lays out the stakes in the foiled fight for U.S. immigration reform in the post-9/11 era. The title refers to the comprehensive reform bill that was seen by its supporters as the “last best chance” this nation would have to get this right for a long time, and the film drives home what was lost when it failed to pass it. It brilliantly presents a political legend, Senator Edward Kennedy, in his final battle for legislation that he believes would best serve US interests and provide greater security and dignity to many of the 20 million people currently living in the shadows. Senator Kennedy joins forces with talented allies on the outside to marshal fellow Senators Obama, Clinton, Menendez, Kyl and McCain toward a ‘Grand Bargain.’ But deep at the heart of this fast-moving story, below the level of strategy and protocol, we find a moral tale of modern American politics. (2010, 100 min, digital) BUY TICKETS »
In The Land of the Free… March 31, 2011, 7:30 pm, YBCA Screening Room
By Vadim Jean
Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King—the Angola 3—have spent a combined century in solitary confinement in Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Targeted by prison officials for being members of the Black Panther Party and for fighting against terrible prison conditions, they were convicted of the murder of a prison guard, a verdict they continue to challenge and for which new evidence continues to emerge. In the Land of the Free… presents their ongoing story as dramatic events continue to unfold. Narrated by Samuel L Jackson (2009, 84 min, digital) BUY TICKETS »
Details: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street, (across the street from SFMOMA), San Francisco, CA 94103. Several reasonably priced parking garages are located within one block of YBCA. Human Rights Watch Film Festival screens Thursday evenings, March 10-31, 2011. Tickets: $8 regular; $6 students, seniors, teachers and YBCA members. Same day gallery admission with film ticket. For more information visit www.ybca.org, or call (415) 978-2787.