This Year’s San Francisco International Film Festival Announced

You probably found my notes from the San Francisco International Film Festival press conference impenetrable. Here’s the polished version:

This year’s Festival opens Thursday, April 21 with Beginners and closes May 5 (also a Thursday) with On Tour.  Over the course of those 15 days, it will screen 188 films from 48 countries in five Bay Area venues (four of them in San Francisco and all of them theaters regularly covered here at Bayflicks.

I’ve already reported some pre-announced events. Here are a few other tidbits from Tuesday’s press conference:

  • Festival director Graham Leggat started with the ritual thanking of corporate sponsors–an unfortunate necessity. The big news here is that Grolsch replaces Stella Artois as the official beer of the festival. Blue Angel will still be the official vodka, “without which,” according to Leggat, “it wouldn ‘t be a festival.” Not all sponsors include alcohol.
  • As I write this, no one has been named to receive the life achievement awards for acting and directing. Leggat took responsibility for this shortcoming, intimating that a big part of the problem is making sure that the awards go to people who can show up at the right time. He told us about one one unnamed guest in a previous year that dropped out because he “thought that San Francisco was in Los Angeles.”
  • The festival will screen Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary on cave paintings, Cave of Forgotten Dreams–something I’ve been eagerly waiting to see for months. It’s one of three films on painting. Another of the three, The Mill and the Cross, is Leggat’s favorite of this year’s films (he said so in the Q&A section).
  • The late night screenings will include something called The Selling, which, according to programmer Rod Armstrong, concerns itself with “how haunted houses can be difficult to sell in a down market.”
  • Restorations include La Dolce Vita and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire. That one will be screened digitally in San Francisco, and on film at the Pacific Film Archive.
  • For the first time in years, the festival will not use the Clay Theater, replacing it with the New People (AKA, VIZ Cinema), which Graham considers a big improvement technically.

And now for something completely geeky: Last year the festival had its own iPhone app. I was hoping for an Android app, this year. Instead, there will be no mobile apps. The festival has a mobile-friendly web site at

Update, 3/30: In my original version of this post, I wrote that the mobile URL” just brings you to the regular site, which is anything but mobile-friendly.” It turns out I had the URL wrong.

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