San Francisco International Film Festival on Its Way

OK, the San Francisco Film Festival runs April 24-May 8, with 177 films, of which 94 are features; 49 countries are represented. For the first time in as long as I can remember, this year they’re not touching down in Palo Alto, though an unspecified one-night event is coming to the South Bay (more as that develops).

Honorees: Mike Leigh, Maria Bello, Robert Towne, J. Hoberman and Errol Morris. Morris’ documentary Standard Operating Procedure makes its local debut, and the preview in a recent New Yorker shows how much there is still to discover about the atrocities at Abu Ghraib.

Jason Lee and Rose McGowan turn up for the after-hours events; indeed, this year’s fest’s mascot is a real after-hours type star: Asia Argento. Three Argento films are on hand: the festival’s opener, The Last Mistress by Catherine Breillat; the seamy Go Go Tales by Abel Ferrara; and her dear old dad Dario’s The Mother of Tears (one night only, April 25).

Documentaries up the yin, including one on dust and one on water; the late Israel “Cachao” Lopez is profiled and so is Philip Glass (the titles respectively are Flow: For the Love of Water, Dust, Glass: A Portrait of Phillip in Twelve Parts, and Cachao: Uno Mas).

Me, I’m looking forward to the new Bela Tarr, The Man From London, because I need something really intransigent after all this fluff I’ve been sitting through. My Winnipeg is Guy Maddin‘s exploration of his little home on the prairie. The new Craig Baldwin collage film, Mock Up On Mu, promises to be the first satire of M. Ronald Hubbub’s scary, omniscient concocted religion since Soderbergh’s Schizopolis (take a tip: defeat the search ‘bots of the Artemis-anetics watchdogs by using easy-to-understand synonyms).

Fogeyvision nights: a screening of the 1920 German Expressionist silent Der Golem, with Black Francis providing live music, and a restored print of Leave Her to Heaven with Gene Tierney at the Castro  Theatre; existing prints looked damned good, so one can only imagine the visual punch of Leon Shamroy’s photography in a new version. All this and more at

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