FILM BUZZ: The 54th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival

The City by the Bay steps into the film festival limelight for the next two weeks with the longest-running film festival in the Americas.

San Francisco Film Festival

Celebrating its 54th anniversary, the San Francisco International Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the Americas, opened yesterday at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and runs through May 5. Five years ago, the incoming new Executive Director, Graham Leggat, promised a fresh vision for this carnival of cinemas. And throughout the festival’s subsequent 15-day annual gala of screenings, tributes, salons, and master classes featuring notable international directors and actors, the San Francisco International Film Festival continues to deliver year after year. In addition to the 188 films from 48 countries, this year’s 100 special guests include director Oliver Stone, screenwriter Frank Pierson, and experimental filmmaker (Cremaster Cycle) Matthew Barney.

Here’s wandermelon’s shortlist for best bets during the San Francisco International Film Festival:

Must-see feature films:
“Asleep in the Sun” — a metaphysical mystery set in a Kafkaesque world of 1950s Buenos Aires.

“Black Bread” — a coming-of-age story in the dark days following the Spanish Civil War Circumstance, a political drama and love story about a burgeoning romance between two young Iranian women.

“Hahaha” — a potent swirl of chance encounters, nostalgia, heartbreak and grace from Hong Sang-soo, South Korea’s highly regarded auteur.

“Le Quattro Volte” — a humorous and moving meditation on the revolving cycles of life in a quiet, medieval hilltop hamlet in Calabria, Italy

Outstanding Documentaries:
As usual, SFIFF documentaries present exceptional Social Activist Cinema at its best––passionate, uncompromising and intelligent.

“In Cave of Forgotten Dreams” — Werner Herzog, intrepid explorer of the exotic, ponders the enigmatic prehistoric cave drawings in southern France.

“Nostalgia for the Light” —  juxtaposes the work of astronomers, who search the heavens to understand our universe, and the relatives of the disappeared under Pinochet’s dictatorship, searching the sands for the bodies of their beloveds.

“!Women Art Revolution” — a first-hand chronicle of the feminist artists in the ’60s and ’70s, who took on the old-boy art establishment in an all-out WAR.

San Francisco International Film Festival Details:

Tickets are available in person at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St. (at Fillmore) or may be purchased online by clicking the Box Office link on the Festival website. Tickets cannot be purchased by phone.

Cathleen Rountree is a Culture Journalist, focusing on travel, food, film, art, and women’s interests.

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