San Francisco Silent Film Festival kicks off 

Who's in town

Nellie McCay: The songwriter, musician and performer presents “I Want to Live,” her musical show based on the 1958 film about Barbara Graham, the third woman to die in the gas chamber at San Quentin. [8 and 10 p.m., Yoshi’s, 1330 Fillmore St., S.F.]

Lectures

Stephen Zack: The president of the American Bar Association discusses underlying threats to the U.S. legal system, such as underfunding and political indecisiveness. [6 p.m., Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., S.F.]

Cassie Doyle: Canada’s consul general in San Francisco discusses the importance of the U.S.-Canadian energy partnership. [Noon, World Affairs Council, 312 Sutter St., S.F.]

Billy Goodnick: The landscape designer and host of the TV show “Garden Wise Guys” shares steps for creating beautiful and sustainable gardens. [7 p.m., Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, S.F.; RSVP: www.conservatoryofflowers.org]

Literary events

Cara Black: The author of “Murder in Passy” and the Aimee Leduc murder-mystery series appears in a Bastille Day conversation. [Noon, Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., S.F.]

Vietnamese-American writers: Authors Angie Chau, Andrew Lam and Isabelle Pelaud discuss Vietnamese-American identity, literature and California. [7:30 p.m., Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., S.F.]

Miranda Kennedy: The New Delhi-based NPR reporter talks about “Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India.” [6 p.m., Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, S.F.]

At the colleges

Bastille Day party: French-flavored evening features a performance by Gaucho, a Gypsy-jazz band. [7 p.m., Mechanics’ Institute, 57 Post St., S.F.; RSVP: rsvp@milibrary.org or (415) 393-0100]

Outdoor science talk: “Shark and Awe: The Extreme Life of the Sea” is the topic. Marine scientist Stephen R. Palumbi speaks. [7 p.m., lawn outside Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University]

At the public library

Film festival preview: San Francisco Jewish Film Festival director Peter L. Stein provides a sneak peek of the 2011 festival lineup. [6 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St., S.F.]

‘Great Teen Book Swap’: Teens receive free books with the understanding they will give the library a bookmark review by the end of the month. [2 p.m., Richmond Branch, 351 Ninth Ave., S.F.]

Silent night

The 2011 San Francisco Silent Film Festival begins. F.W. Murnau’s silent classic “Sunrise” (9:15 p.m.), with a world-premiere score, is tonight’s centerpiece feature. [Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F.; www.silentfilm.org]

Local activities

Arts and absinthe: Litquake presents “Cabaret Bastille,” a night inspired by the arts scene of 1920s Paris. Current authors channel 1920s authors. Tara Jepsen, as Gertrude Stein, is the host. [8 p.m. to midnight, CELLSpace, 2050 Bryant St., S.F.]

Young musicians: The Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival’s resident youth group, performs an outdoor concert. [12:30 p.m., Yerba Buena Gardens, 770 Mission St., S.F.]

‘Howl’ reading: The Cartoon Art Museum hosts a reading of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” featuring local celebrities Ben McCoy, Eric Mar, Carol Stewart and others. Proceeds benefit CAM. [7 to 10 p.m., 655 Mission St., S.F.]

Chez Papa Bistrot: Chef Eliseo Soto is creating a three-course French dinner ($34.95) in celebration of Bastille Day. Appetizer selections include mussels any style; Lyonnaise salad; and grilled local sardines. Entree options include bouillabaisse; pan-roasted red trout; and duck confit leg. For dessert: a choice of chocolate fondant, apple tarte tatin, or lavender creme brulee. [1401 18th St., S.F.; (415) 824-8205]

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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