In its world premiere April 14 at the Castro Theatre, “Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly,” directed by curator Cheryl Haines, focuses on the impact of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s San Quentin installation “@Large” and its theme of prisoners of conscience. (Courtesy For-Site Foundation)

In its world premiere April 14 at the Castro Theatre, “Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly,” directed by curator Cheryl Haines, focuses on the impact of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s San Quentin installation “@Large” and its theme of prisoners of conscience. (Courtesy For-Site Foundation)

Movies and more at SFFILM Festival 2019

62nd Bay Area event a far-reaching celebration of cinema

SFFILM Festival 2019 is here, with 163 films and 52 represented countries on the slate. Featuring hot new titles, lower-profile indies, global fare and live artist appearances, it’s one of the largest and most wide-ranging film fests in the Bay Area.

The 62nd festival, presented by the SFFILM organization and formerly known as the San Francisco International Film Festival, runs April 10 through April 23 in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. As usual, programmers have assembled a panoply of films and related events — screenings, artist tributes, performances, speakers, parties.

Things get rolling April 10 at the Castro Theatre with episode one of “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City,” a Netflix limited series. (The festival doesn’t reject worthy fare that has been created for non-theatrical platforms such as streaming, said executive director Noah Cowan and programmer Rachel Rosen at last month’s news conference.)

Laura Linney, who plays the now middle-aged Mary Ann who reconnects with her San Francisco past, appears. Expect the post-screening Q&A to be a fun one.


SFFILM Festival

Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St.,; SFMOMA, 151 Third St.,; YBCA, 701 Mission St.; Children’s Creativity Museum, 221 Fourth St.; Dolby Cinema, 1275 Market St.; Roxie, 3117 16th St.; Victoria, 2961 16th St., S.F.

When: April 10-23

Tickets: $16 most films, more for special events


Note: East Bay screenings are at BAMPFA in Berkeley and the Grand Lake in Oakland.


Opening: Episode one of “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City” leads things off with appearances by the cast and creative team. (7 p.m. today, Castro)

Centerpiece: Lulu Wang’s bittersweet “The Farewell” stars Awkwafina (of “Crazy Rich Asians” fame) as a young Chinese-American woman who visits her family in China after her grandmother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. (7:30 p.m. April 18, Castro)

Closing: Keira Knightley portrays British whistleblower Katharine Gun in “Official Secrets,” a thriller directed by Gavin Hood. (8 p.m. April 21, Castro)


Laura Linney: The actress (“Kinsey,” “Mystic River”) appears in conversation at a screening of “The Savages.” (6 p.m. April 11, SFMOMA)

Claire Denis: The French filmmaker (“Beau Travail,” “Friday Night”) speaks at a screening of “High Life.” (8 p.m. April 11, Victoria)

John C. Reilly: The actor (“Boogie Nights,” “Stan & Ollie”) speaks at a screening of “The Sisters Brothers.” (7 p.m. April 12, Castro)

Laura Dern: The actress (“Rambling Rose, “ “Wild”) appears at a screening of “Trial by Fire.” (3:30 April 14, Castro)


Boots Riley-State of Cinema Address: The activist, musician and director of “Sorry to Bother You” discusses film and social movements. (2 p.m. April 13, Victoria)

Echo in the Canyon: Edward Slater’s music documentary screens, with a performance by Jakob Dylan and his band. (8:30 p.m. April 20, Castro)


Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly: Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s San Quentin installation “@Large” and its theme of prisoners of conscience inspired the documentary, in which exhibit curator Cheryl Haines visits prisoners and learns how letters of support have helped them survive. (7:30 p.m. April 14, Castro)

Bloodroot: The documentary profiles Selma Miriam and Noel Furie, who in the 1970s left their husbands, became a couple, and founded a vegetarian, feminist restaurant in Connecticut with a women-only staff. (6 p.m. April 11 and noon April 13 at Creativity)

Booksmart: Two studious high-school best friends, right before their graduation, decide to experience — in one night — all the fun they’ve missed over the past four years in Olivia’s Wilde’s fresh take on the teen comedy. (7:30 p.m. April 16, Castro)

High Life: Screening in the Claire Denis tribute, the primal sci-fi adventure centers on a father and daughter who are the last survivors of a doomed and disturbing spaceship mission heading toward a black hole. (8 p.m. April 11, Victoria)

Colewell: Karen Allen plays a beloved Pennsylvania postal clerk who fights to keep her job when the government decides to eliminate her town’s post office in Tom Quinn’s gentle drama. (8 p.m. April 13 at Dolby; 6 p.m. April 16 at Creativity)

Knock Down the House: Four women, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, run grassroots campaigns against powerful congressional incumbents in Rachel Lears’ documentary. (7:30 p.m. April 13, Castro)

The Little Comrade: A 6-year-old girl hopes that being on her best behavior will bring her mother back from a Siberian prison camp in Moonika Siimets’ sensitive drama set in Soviet Estonia. (8:30 p.m. April 18 at BAMPFA; 1 p.m. April 20 at Roxie; 1 p.m. April 22 at Victoria)

Photograph: Indian director Ritesh Batra reunites with “The Lunchbox” costar Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the romantic comedy about a street photographer who convinces a girl he meets to pose as his fiancee. (Noon April 14, Castro)

Meeting Gorbachev: Mikhail Gorbachev, the USSR’s last leader, tells his story in his own way, in conversation with Werner Herzog, in this documentary. (9 p.m. April 19 at Creativity; 5 p.m. April 21 at Grand Lake)

One Child Nation: Co-director Nanfu Wang visits her childhood village to research China’s now-abandoned one-child policy, and this documentary details her troubling findings. (1 p.m. April 14 at BAMPFA; 6 p.m. April 15 at Creativity)

Q Ball: Members of the San Quentin Prison basketball squad deal with the seriousness of their crimes and seek redemption in this world-premiere documentary by Mike Tolajian. (7 p.m. April 11, Castro)

Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins: Popular liberal columnist Molly Ivins (1944-2007), known for her Texas roots and her fearless, funny writings about politicians, is profiled in Janice Engel’s documentary. (1 p.m. April 13 at BAMPFA; 7 p.m. April 14 at Victoria)

Rojo: Centering on a lawyer under investigation for real-estate malfeasance, Benjamin Naishtat’s noirish drama, set in 1975 Argentina, revisits a time of moral breakdown in that nation’s history. (8:45 p.m. April 11 at Creativity; 8 p.m. April 14 at BAMPFA; 6 p.m. April 23 at Victoria)

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