The San Francisco International Film Festival revealed final details of its upcoming event. The 54th edition of the festival will include 188 films from 48 countries, including three world premieres, one international premiere, seven North American premieres and five U.S. premieres. As previously reported, Mike Mills’ “Beginners” will open North America’s oldest film festival with both Mills and star Ewan McGregor in attendance at the historic Castro Theatre.
Azazel Jacob’s “Terri” will screen as SFIFF’s Centerpiece (information below) and SFIFF will close out May 5th with “On Tour,” directed and starring Mathieu Amalric. SFIFF describes the feature as a “sexy yet wistful comedy about a disgraced French TV producer making a comeback with a troupe of buxom, brassy American burlesque performers touring the French countryside.”
Other highlights of SFIFF include honors for Frank Pierson (Kanbar Award), artist Matthew Barney (Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award), Serge Bromberg (Novikoff Award), producer Christine Vachon (State of Cinema Address).
The San Francisco International Film Festival is produced by the San Francisco Film Society.
Details of today’s announced programs with credits and descriptions provided by the San Francisco Film Society:
“Terri” by Azazel Jacob
Terri is a heavy, shambling, pajama-wearing junior-high student, the physical incarnation of all the insecurity and awkwardness that accompany adolescence. We get to know the taciturn Terri as he cares for his ailing uncle, a man at turns gentle and derisive, conducts solitary experiments in zoology and pines for a girl just out of reach. When vice principal Fitzgerald (played with superb clarity and humor by John C. Reilly) tags Terri as an at-risk student, Terri joins the ranks of “official” oddballs and fears his school days are numbered. But instead a charmingly disjointed friendship forms between two outcasts: one young and one old. Awakened by Mr. Fitzgerald’s openness about his own past and his oddly direct, often corny conversations, Terri begins to empathize with the plight of those around him. Patrick deWitt’s screenplay depicts with precision and compassion a hilariously touching, deeply humane tale of youth in transition. What is especially remarkable about Terri is that it manages to bridge a potentially vast gulf between its deeply awkward outcasts and the audience. We end up walking with them every shambling step of the way.
World Cinema Spotlight:
“Cave of Forgotten Dreams” (USA 2010) by Werner Herzog
Herzog is the first filmmaker allowed into the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc caverns in southern France, site of the world’s oldest prehistoric art. Who better to ponder these enigmatic drawings? And what cinematic plunge into the unknown could be better served by 3-D? Cave of Forgotten Dreams screens
“The Mill and the Cross” (Poland 2010) by Lech Majewski
At once a detailed social history of 16th-century Flemish life and a keen study of the artistic imagination, Lech Majewski’s brilliant film brings to life before our eyes The Way to Calvary, Pieter Bruegel’s dense frieze of Christ’s passion set within a busy rustic Flanders scene.
“Nainsukh” (India, Switzerland 2010) by Amit Dutta
The 18th-century Indian painter Nainsukh of Guler receives a poetic, visually stunning tribute from young Indian filmmaker Amit Dutta, employing an arresting pictorial language. Shot in the region where Nainsukh produced his most celebrated work, this is a meditative and meticulous recreation of the world of an artistic genius.
“Outrage” by Takeshi Kitano (Japan 2010)
Kitano’s long-awaited return to the gangster genre is a startling attack on the morally corrupt power structures and hypocritical honor system of the Japanese yakuza, where “loyalty” is just another word for betrayal. A powerful syndicate boss orders a low-level chief to “send a message,” and in the process triggers an all-out war.
“The Selling” by Emily Lou (USA 2010) World Premiere
For most people affected by the recent housing market crash, the impact was financial. Super nice real estate agent Richard Scarry has an additional burden: the paranormal. This startlingly funny debut feature takes many of the tropes of haunted house films and employs them to exciting, witty and original ends.
“Stake Land” by Jim Mickle (USA 2010)
Martin and Mister are two of the few remaining survivors of a global apocalypse caused by rampaging (and ravenous) vampire zombies. Pursued by crazed cultists and marauding monsters, they try to make their way to a rumored encampment of remaining humans in this visually gritty dystopian tale where human beings are even worse than the beasts running amok.
“The Troll Hunter” by André Ovredal (Norway 2010)
Equal parts Blair Witch Project and Jurassic Park, this is a “raw” CGI-filled romp through troll lore. Student journalists making a documentary on bear poaching in the Norwegian countryside stumble upon a secret war between government operatives and stony giants. Thrust into danger and intrigue, the students suddenly need to bone up on troll defense.
“The Tiniest Place”
North American Premieres
“Children of the Princess of Cleves”
“Drawing Restraint 17”
“Let the Wind Carry Me”
“Walking Too Fast”
“Year Without a Summer”
“End of Animal”
“The High Life”
“The Last Buffalo Hunt”
Live and Onstage:
State of Cinema Address: Christine Vachon
9:00 pm, Sunday, April 24, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Acclaimed producer and author Christine Vachon will deliver the annual State of Cinema address, reflecting on independent cinema and its continuing evolution. Vachon will explore the current state of independent films and the role of producers of provocative cinema going forward.
From A to Zellner
9:45 pm, Sunday, April 24, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Meet the inimitable Zellner Bros.! The Austin-based filmmaking duo (Fiddlestixx, SFIFF 2010) will present selections from their considerable oeuvre of short films, the newest of which is a look at the mysteries of nature entitled Sasquatch Birth Journal 2. The Zellners’ films run the gamut from heartfelt and touching to raucous and absurd, usually moment by moment.
New Skin for the Old Ceremony
9:00 pm, Tuesday, April 26, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
The influence of Leonard Cohen’s writing and music over half a century gives rise to a range of beautiful work in this three-part tribute: a new series of short films that visualize the 1974 album New Skin for the Old Ceremony, the classic documentary Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Mr. Leonard Cohen and live music featuring covers of Cohen’s music by Kelly Stoltz and Pale Hoarse.
Tindersticks: Claire Denis Film Scores 1996–2009
8:30 pm, Monday, May 2, Castro Theatre
Tindersticks, the groundbreaking British chamber rock band known for its distinctive orchestral sound and the baritone of lead vocalist Stuart Staples, will perform the scores that they have created for six films of French director Claire Denis. Viewed—and heard—anew, Denis’s singular images will soar as the band’s live music envelops the majestic Castro Theatre.
9:30 pm, Tuesday, May 3, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Arline Klatte and Beth Lisick host the beloved nonfiction storytelling series, making another highly anticipated appearance at the Festival for a special night of film industry–themed stories. The rules are deceptively simple. Tell a true ten-minute tale to an audience of strangers as if you were telling it to a good friend. Results vary wildly but are uniformly unforgettable.