SFIFF Centerpiece: Your Sister’s Sister

Last night I attended the San Francisco International Film Festival‘s Centerpiece presentation, consisting of a movie, a Q&A, and a party.

A- Your Sister’s Sister
This film kept surprising me. The opening scene, involving a group of young adults memorializing a recently-deceased friend,  felt like The Big Chill. But the movie wasyour_sisters_sister about only two of the people at that wake. I soon realized, correctly, that it was a romantic sex comedy. But my other assumptions were wrong. I thought it was shallow; then the characters deepened. I figured out whom was going to end up with whom, and what artificial crisis would end the second act.  Boy, was I wrong! It just kept getting better–more surprising, more character-driven and realistic, and funnier, because the humor was coming from something real. So many movies start promising and deteriorate; it was nice to see one that just kept getting better.

This was the only screening at the festival, but IFC Films has picked up Your Sister’s Sister for theatrical release.

After the movie, festival programmer Rachel Rosen and one of the film’s stars, Rosemarie DeWitt, came onstage to discuss the picture and writer/director Lynn Shelton’s improvisational style.

Some of DeWitt’s comments:

  • Mark Duplass (another one of the stars) originally got the idea for the story. He brought it to Lynn. In the original conception, he goes to Iris’ house and meets her hot mom.
  • I was shooting this film and [television series] The United States of Tara at same time, flying between LA and Seattle.
  • Usually the script is everything. With this one you sort of showed up and are told "You’re gonna talk about my butt?"
  • Lynn quietly asked me "Could you say something in this next take that would really embarrass Emily."
  • When we shot it I thought out was a drama. When I watched it with you folks I realized out was a comedy.

After the discussion, I made my way to the Centerpiece party in downtown San Francisco. The DJ played dance music at a reasonably loud level but not painfully so (no one danced). There were places where you could get away from the music almost entirely. The drinks were on the house. The food was good.

I had a good time.