47th SFIFF Begins to Wind Down with Cooler Temps and Crowded Screenings
by Brian Brooks
California's soaring heat-wave began to show signs of abating Tuesday evening following several days of record-breaking April heat which sent temperatures into the 90s in San Francisco. Crowds continued to pack the AMC Kabuki Theater, the main San Francisco International Film Festival venue in the city Tuesday night, to attend screenings in the last 48 hours of the festival. The 47th annual event will conclude with its closing night film and party tonight (Thursday).
One popular screening was director Yoav Shamir's doc "Checkpoint," a look at the contentious roadblocks that are simultaneously viewed as both humiliating to Palestinians and necessary for Israel's security. The audience mostly watched the film quietly, but at one point when footage of Palestinians throwing snowballs at soldiers played, some audience members began applauding, while others hissed.
Controversy did not rear its head at the packed screening of French director Yann Samuell's "Love Me if You Dare" the night before. Both the director and the feature's star Guillaume Canet charmed moviegoers both before and after the screening. Following the screening of the romantic roller-coaster, Samuell joked during the Q&A that both he and Canet had planned to go to dinner during the screening but stayed for the film because they wanted to see how everyone would react. "Love Me if You Dare"'s rather non-specific ending solicited some questions from the audience. The film's fantasy-heavy story line seemed to have gone over well with most, although some were confused by its not particularly straightforward conclusion. "There are as many endings as there are people here tonight," said Samuell.
After the film, the festival hosted a party in the trendy SOMA area at Loft 11. The wine and hors d'oeuvres were nice, but the large VIP section ensured a distinct separation of people from the film and festival from the rest of the crowd.
More easily navigable, however, was the afternoon tribute for Paolo Cherchi Usai the next day in downtown San Francisco. Usai received the event's Mel Novikoff award (named after a local 'pioneering' exhibitor) for his work as the curator of the motion picture department at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.
SFIFF closes tonight with a screening of Peter Howitt's "Laws of Attraction," at the historic Castro Theatre followed by a party at Club NV.