The San Francisco International Film Festival returns From April 19th – May 3rd for two weeks of cinematic discovery. The International assembles world-renowned talent—such as awardees Kenneth Branagh, Barbara Kopple, and Pierre Rissient—for Bay Area audiences.
This year's innovative events include Academy Award nominee Sam Green's latest live documentary project The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller with live music by Yo La Tengo (5/1 at SFMoma), Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs) with Buster Keaton shorts (4/23 at Castro Theatre), and so much more!
For a complete guide to films, venues, and tickets, visit festival.sffs.org, but here are a few more that we are excited about!
Bernie (Richard Linklater, USA, 2011)
Explaining the proper methods to superglue eyelids closed and adjust a corpse’s smile, Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) warns, “You cannot have grief tragically becoming comedy.” But can it be funny when someone dies and no one cares? A former evangelist who arrives in Carthage, Texas to take a job as an assistant funeral director, Tiede uses his magnetic personality, seemingly never-ending skill set and Harold Hill–style of confidence to become the most popular man in town. Tiede even manages to charm Marjorie Nugent (a maniacally frenzied Shirley MacLaine), the local rich widow whom everyone else despises and fears. Eventually, though, Nugent’s abuses become too much for someone in Carthage to take. Director Richard Linklater returns to the East Texas of his youth to showcase the strange heart of small town life, where, as one character puts it, “people will always suspect the worst, but they’ll also suspect the best.” Saturday, April 21, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.
Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey (Ramona S. Diaz , USA, 2012)
Arnel Pineda’s path from YouTube obscurity to stadium fame in becoming Journey’s new lead singer has inspired newspaper articles and TV talk show segments, but Ramona S. Diaz’s inspiring new film is an up-close and in-depth look at his past and present, from a homeless young adulthood singing on street corners in Manila to the sudden pressures of touring around the world and performing before crowds of thousands. Placing interviews with the candid Pineda (who at one point says he looks like he was placed in the band’s photos through Adobe Photoshop) alongside backstage camerawork that faithfully assumes his perspective, Diaz’s documentary is a counterpart to the exploration of public popularity in her 2003 portrait Imelda—focusing on Pineda’s rise from poverty to wealth, Diaz reveals the generosity of his spirit. She and the band also deliver electrifying musical sequences, including two distinctive homecoming shows, one of which registers as a validation of Pineda’s commitment to albums that he kept in his hope chest, and the power of his voice. “The way I see it, it’s a temporary thing,” Pineda says of his current gig, but Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey—while looking at a pair of cities by the Bay—gives it lasting life. Thursday, May 3, Castro Theatre.
Hysteria (Tanya Wexler, USA/England, 2011)
In Victorian London, young doctor Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) possesses some vanguard ideas about medical treatment, including the heretical belief that wounds should be thoroughly cleaned rather than treated with leeches. Such notions make it difficult for him to find steady employment, until he meets up with Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), who is weary from a successful practice devoted to treating women with “hysteria” through manual methods. Eager to please and an apt pupil, Mortimer is welcomed into the Dalrymple household, where the quietly intelligent Emily (Felicity Jones) and the crusading suffragette Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) present a powerful study in contrasts. While Mortimer aspires to take over the Dalrymple practice and perhaps even become a member of the family, the daily demands of his job prove physically taxing. Fortunately for him, his decadent layabout friend Edmund (a reliably witty Rupert Everett) is about to finally find his calling in the realm of invention. In her third feature film, Tanya Wexler extends her interest in unconventional approaches to genre: This is a historical costume romp and courtroom wig drama, but one with the invention of the vibrator at its center. Aided by Dancy’s and Jones’s charm and Everett’s scene-stealing flair, Hysteria celebrates a moment in medical history devoted to pleasure rather than pain. Tuesday, May 1, Kabuki Theater / Thursday, May 1, FSC.
The Source (Jodi Wille, Maria Demopolous , USA, 2012)
Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos’s documentary chronicles the rise and fall of the Source Family, a Southern California experiment in healthy, communal living that devolved into a quasi-authoritarian polygamist cult exiled to Kauai, where things eventually took a turn for the worse. At the center of the film is the imposing paterfamilias and self-styled guru, Father Yod (birth name Jim Baker), a herculean Judo master and savvy restaurateur whose trendy Source restaurant (immortalized in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall) served as the crucible and financial engine for his spiritual movement. The Source Family was obsessed with self-documentation, and Wille and Demopoulos make ample use of the wealth of photos, audiotapes and home movies the Family managed to accrue over its short existence. Preeminent among these documents are the family’s musical recordings. Under the name YaHoWha 13, several of the Source Family’s more musically inclined members—including Father Yod on vocals and timpani—produced a massive catalogue of cult psychedelic albums beloved by record collectors and musicians (a certain Smashing Pumpkins songwriter even makes an appearance as one of the film’s talking heads). This is a thoroughly researched and enormously entertaining examination of one of the ’70s counterculture’s strangest “families.” Sunday, April 22, PFA / Friday, April 27, Kabuki / Sunday, April 29, FSC