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San Francisco International Film Festival

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San Francisco International Film Festival

The oldest event of its kind in the United States, "the International," as organizers affectionately refer to it, is also the preeminent film festival in Northern California. While not typically considered a "discovery festival" (one where you may expect to find prominent unseen work), the festival showcases a fantastic round of international and domestic fare with 150 feature films programmed. The festival also organizes an annual awards night that has drawn the biggest who's who in the film world, and why not? San Francisco is one of America's most beautiful, diverse, and welcoming cities. Its locals are great appreciators of art, and the city is the second biggest consumer of foreign-language film. The International uses venues that range from decent to fantastic, including the historic Castro Theatre. Perhaps the one thing that is a bit lacking (and this is true of many festivals) has been a central area where attendees can gather for social time between screenings. Still, SFIFF is a gem, and the curation and the city itself are tops. [Brian Brooks]

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