Claire Danes, Leo James and Jim Parsons appear in "A Kid Like Jake," opening the San Francisco International Film Festival on April 4 at the Castro. [Courtesy Sundance Institute/Jon Pack]

Roll ’em! SF International Film Festival gets underway

A two-week place-to-be for local movie lovers, the 2018 San Francisco International Film Festival opens Wednesday. The 61-year-old event gives fans the chance to see films before their theatrical release and also presents films that, no matter how stellar, may never receive theatrical distribution. It embraces the big-screen experience in the age of streaming and brings people together to view work by significant and provocative artists.

Presented by SFFILM and happening at 11 venues, the festival features screenings, awards programs, talks and live performances. More than 180 films are on the bill. Female filmmakers are a focus this year, as are, as always, Bay Area interests and artists.
“Live and Onstage” events include presentations combining silent cinema with music.

Lower-fanfare screenings, the heart of the festival, offer films that have generated buzz at other festivals, as well as under-the-radar selections, some of them gems.

Foreign fare, a core element of the festival ever since it presented works by Akira Kurosawa, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Luchino Visconti during its inaugural edition in 1957, remains a primary draw in these hard times for subtitled releases.

BIG NIGHTS

Opening: “A Kid Like Jake,” directed by Silas Howard (“Transparent”) and adapted by Daniel Pearle from his play, centers on a liberal Brooklyn couple (Claire Danes, Jim Parsons) struggling to do what’s best for their possibly transgender 4-year-old son. (7 p.m. April 4, Castro)

Centerpiece: “Sorry to Bother You,” local rap and political artist Boots Riley’s wacky satirical comedy follows a black telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) who achieves outrageous success by using a white voice. (6:30 p.m. April 12 at Castro; 8 p.m. April 12 at Grand Lake)


Closing
: “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” directed by Gus Van Sant, dramatizes the journey of quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix), known for his mordantly funny, sometimes profane art. (7 p.m. April 15, Castro)


TRIBUTES

Wayne Wang: The director of “The Joy Luck Club” and “Smoke” discusses his work, with a screening of “Smoke.” (7:30 p.m. April 7, Dolby)

Charlize Theron: The Oscar-wining actress appears in conversation and shares her new film, “Tully,” a dark comedy marking her second collaboration, after “Young Adult,” with director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody. (7:30 p.m. April 8, Castro)

LIVE ONSTAGE

State of Cinema: Fabulously independent Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin, whose “The Green Fog” was a highlight at last year’s fest, delivers the annual address. (12:30 p.m. April 8, Victoria)

Blonde Redhead and Yasujiro Ozu
: The alt-rock band provides live accompaniment for a screening of the Japanese master’s silent drama “I Was Born But…” (1932). (8 p.m. April 11, Castro)

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, 2155 Center St., Berkeley, and the Grand Lake, 3200 Grand Ave., Oakland.

Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on FootGuy MaddinKid Like JakeMovies and TVSan Francisco International Film FestivalSorry to Bother YouWayne Wang

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