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61st SF International Film Fest: diverse, female-centric

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Kronos Quartet, San Francisco’s new music pioneers, appear live, with filmmaker Sam Green, in the documentary “A Thousand Thoughts” on April 10 at the Castro. (Courtesy photo)

Presenters of the 2018 San Francisco Film Festival have announced its full lineup, not surprisingly pointing to a focus on Bay Area values, global filmmakers and women directors.

Speaking at Dolby Cinema in The City, Noah Cowan, director of the presenting organization SFFILM, said the roster of 183 films from 45 countries reflects what Bay Area audiences are looking for: diversity, inclusiveness, technology, innovation, new voices, health of the planet and global perspectives.

The two-week fest, which runs in San Francisco and the East Bay, opens at 7 p.m. April 4 at the Castro Theatre with “A Kid Like Jake,” from “Transparent” director Silas Howard. Adapted by Daniel Pearle from his play, the film stars Claire Danes as a mom dealing with her transgender 4-year-old son.

Other “big nights” include Gus Van Sant’s “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” starring Joaquin Phoenix as caustic and funny quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan (7 p.m. April 17, Castro); a tribute to Wayne Wang with the director’s conversational 1995 “Smoke” (7:30 p.m. April 7, Dolby Cinema); a Charlize Theron tribute with “Tully,” a dramedy by Jason Reitman about a struggling suburban woman (7:30 p.m. April 8, Castro); a live appearance by the Kronos Quartet, featured in Sam Green’s documentary “A Thousand Thoughts” (7 p.m. April 10, Castro); and director Guy Maddin speaking on dreams in cinema (12:30 p.m. April 8, Victoria).

Among anticipated selections by female directors are Marina Zenovich’s portrait of the late great comic, “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind” (2 p.m. April 7, Castro); Betsy West’s “RBG,” a look at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1 p.m. April 14, Castro); Amy Scott’s “Hal,” detailing work by filmmaker Hal Ashby (6 p.m. April 6 at Creativity Museum; 2 p.m. April 8 at Victoria); and Amy Adrion’s “Half the Picture,” about the lack of women in Hollywood (12:45 p.m. April 7 at SFMOMA; 5:45 p.m. April 9 at Creativity; 1:30 p.m. April 16 at Victoria).

Other stories showcasing extraordinary women include “Bad Reputation” about rock pioneer Joan Jett (8 p.m. April 14, Castro) and “Mercury 13,” a documentary about the female fliers and scientists who trained to be among the first people in space, but were shut out by NASA (12:30 pm. April 8 at SFMOMA; 4 p.m. April 10 at Roxie).

A “launch” program championing premieres includes the documentaries “Ulam: Main Dish,” about the rise of Filipino food (4:30 p.m. April 7 at Dolby Cinema; 4:30 p.m. April 8 and 3:30 p.m. April 10 at Creativity); “Tre Maison Dasan,” which follows three boys who have a parent in jail (1:30 p.m. April 8 at Dolby, 8:30 p.m. April 10 at YBCA, 3:30 p.m. April 13 at Creativity); and “The Rescue List,” detailing efforts to save children forced into labor in Ghana (a 7 p.m. April 11 screening at Dolby includes a talk with Human Rights Watch representatives).

Free community screenings include “The Pushouts,” about Victor Rios, a former West Oakland gang member changed by an inspirational teacher (6 p.m. April 10, Victoria) and a dog-friendly showing of “Pick of the Litter,” about five Labrador Retriever puppies in training to be guide dogs (11:30 a.m. April 7, Victoria).

Dozens more diverse offerings are detailed in a comprehensive, incredibly well-designed 67-page book and online at sffilm.org.

IF YOU GO
61st San Francisco International Film Festival
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St.,; SFMOMA, 151 Third St.,; YBCA, 701 Mission St., S.F., Children’s Creativity Museum, 221 Fourth St.; Dolby Cinema, 1275 Market St.; Roxie, 3117 16th St.; Victoria, 2961 16th St.
When: April 4-17
Tickets: $16 most films, more for special events
Contact: sffilm.org
Note: East Bay screenings are at BAMPFA in Berkeley and the Grand Lake in Oakland.

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