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61st SFIFF to host Charlize Theron, Boots Riley

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Boots Riley’s Oakland-set “Sorry To Bother You” with Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson gets its local premiere on April 12 on both sides of the Bay. (Courtesy photo)

The 61st San Francisco International Film Festival, slated for April 4-17 in The City and beyond, is announcing its full lineup on Wednesday, March 14, ending early-bird ticket discounts and offering a sneak peek at what’s in store.

SFFILM, the nonprofit advocacy group and presenter of the fest, already has announced one of the program’s biggest nights: Oscar-winner (best actress in 2003’s “Monster”) Charlize Theron gets a tribute on April 8 at the Castro Theatre, where she’ll appear at a screening her new movie “Tully” and appear in conversation with director Jason Reitman.

On the local front, the SFFILM-supported satire “Sorry To Bother You” by Oakland’s Boots Riley also has been announced as a centerpiece program. The movie, a hit at the Sundance Film Festival in January, screens at 6:30 p.m. April 12 at the Castro in The City, followed by an 8 p.m. showing at the Grand Lake Theatre — organizers call the dual location hometown screenings a festival first.

Describing the film as “the most insane movie you’re likely to see all year,” Collider said it shows off Riley’s “pure, unfiltered ambition, resulting in a film with many genuinely crazy twists and turns.”

It’s set in an alternate present-day version of Oakland, where black telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a key to professional success — using a “white voice” — propelling “him into a macabre universe.”

While funny, it also tackles issues of corporatism, racism, misogyny, feminism, community, greed, assimilation, unionization and gentrification. Riley, who studied film at San Francisco State University, is also know for fronting hip hop groups The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club.

And, continuing its commitment to international filmmakers, the festival also shared names of 20 films — 10 features, 10 documentaries — contending for Golden Gate Awards; entries from 21 countries screen during the festival and winners will be announced at an awards presentation on April 15.

The SFIFF, the longest-running film festival in the Americas, offers nearly 200 films and live events, 14 juried awards with close to $40,000 in cash prizes, and more than 100 participating filmmaker guests.

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