Saturday, April 6, 2013

SFIFF! Part 2: My picks

So, here's what I'm going to try to go see this year:

First up, I'm going to see most of the shorts that are in competition. If I do get to screen again next fall, I want to have a good sense of what made it through this year. And I want to see what wins this year!  And I already mentioned the Peaches doc and concert and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Friday, April 5, 2013

SFIFF! Part 1: general thoughts


It's been so long. I'm not sure what happened there. (Yet again.)

Actually, I do. Things have been busy. I started going on twitter regularly. And there are only so many hours I can look at a screen at a day. (It is a lot. The number there is lot. But not all.)

And the spring has been pretty meh when it comes to movies. I've been going to some films I only have a half-hearted interest in, just to feel like I'm using my movie pass in a somewhat financially-responsible manner.  There hasn't been a lot I've been jazzed about. (Those I have wanted to see: Warm Bodies was cute, Spring Breakers was amusing, Side Effects was fun, and I loved Stoker. But I mean, come on. The pianogasm.)

But the exciting news in my world is that the San Francisco International Film Fest finally announced the full program and tickets have been secured.

[And my name is in the program! As one of the screeners for the Golden Gate Awards. I'm so thrilled. It was a bit of a scheduling trick at times, but I SO enjoyed being a screener. For every student film with painful graphics, I saw some really stunning works that I'm still thinking about months on. I'm not sure I talked about this at all on here, between my infrequent postings and worries about confidentiality, and I'm not going to talk about which ones I watched, but overall I really enjoyed the experience. I hope they'll have me back again. And I'll keep an eye out for my favorite shorts coming online.]

I think I talk about this every time I go to a film fest, but I'm always torn between seeing those titles I've been anticipating for months (which in all probability means they are bigger titles with future distribution) and those I've never heard of that I may never have the chance to see (at least on the big screen.) One of the great things about SFIFF is that there is a real emphasis on both documentaries and foreign films, and there are more films that are unknown to me.

Don't get me wrong - I love IFF Boston (especially the younger crowd), but I generally have heard of at least half the narrative titles there. With SFIFF, I usually know maybe a quarter? So when the program is released, there isn't the same level of "Yes! The Way, Way Back! And Some Girls! And Berberian Sound Studio!" But it gets things like Where Do We Go Now, Valley of Saints, Rebellion, and Le Quattro Volte, none of which I had heard of before the last two fests, and each of which I ended up loving. (Of course, there are always a few of the same overlapping big titles making the rounds - this year those include The East, Much Ado About Nothing, Computer Chess, and Prince Avalanche.)

And of course, sometimes the things at any film fest don't totally work out (Nostalgia for the Light, Diana Vreeland, Sleeping Sickness) but that's the fun grab bag aspect. And while I have never had any inclination to make a film, I think mainlining a bunch of movies all at once can be a real film school education. [I found that in screening, as well. Editing. Editing is key. Find a really good editor.]

So! What's on for this year?

This year, I'm trying to give myself a couple of nights off, since I often burn out and miss one or two films for, you know, needing sleep. There are a couple that I'm currently undecided on (Fill the Void - which won best film at the Israeli Film Awards, and Inori - a documentary contender about an isolated Japanese town living in accordance with nature. (*cough*Mononoke*cough*)) And there are several more I couldn't fit in the schedule :

The sad ones in the upper corner are Google and the World Brain, Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Game, Populaire, and A River Changes Course. Populaire looks like it is getting a limited US release in May. I can't figure out if the other 3 have distribution deals, but I'm sure Google is a pretty safe bet.  I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed for A River, which looks really interesting, and has an A- rating over on criticwire. (Hmmm, Something in the Air, which is my conflict on timing, only has a B+. And a distributor in IFC. I may have to swap that out somehow.)

Although I should point out that that initial draft above has switched around a bit. I swapped out the Derek Waters event for The Act of Killing, to give myself a night off later in the week. And THEN, I learned that the first 300 people to buy tickets to Peaches Does Herself are going to get tickets to go see her live! So I had to bump The Strange Little Cat to later in the fest and that's why I'm not sure I'll go see Fill the Void before her show.

Here, enjoy some Peaches:

I'm not going to the centerpiece films, What Maisie Knew, Inequality for All, and Before Midnight because I'm sure an Alexander Skarsgaard film and a Sundance Jury winner will be released and I have yet to watch Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Plus they *are* more expensive, and lord knows I spend a lot on tickets. I *am* going to the director's night with Philip Kaufman and Invasion of the Body Snatchers at the Castro because, hey. 70s SF at the Castro. Should be fun.

(I do want to point out that I am thrilled with the inclusion of Inequality for All. I think my brother helped with the kickstarter. I helped Veronica Mars. He may be the better person.)

(To be fair, I also backed The Goon and The Heist.)

I am not going to see To Live and Die in LA (which they are showing because William Friedkin is coming with his new book), because I have already seen it. But if you have not, you should. The counterfeiting scenes with Willem Dafoe are epic.

Hmm - this has gone on a little long, so I'm going to continue with my picks in another post.