First Festivals of the New Year

The holiday season isn’t so festive for Bay Area cinephiles. In fact, it’s a big, seasonal, film festival drought.

But it won’t last. Here are some festivals on the way:

For Your Consideration
January 11 – 17

As it does every year, the Rafael will screen a series of movies that the Academy is considering for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Although these films all opened in the US in 2012, most of them haven’t opened in the Bay Area.

I’ve seen only one film on the list, The Intouchables, which I found entertaining but not exceptional (read my review). Other promising titles include Keep Smiling, a satire from Georgia about a beauty contest and War Witch, a Canadian film about a child soldier.

Note: I have changed the For Your Consideration section above to include new material.

Noir City
January 25 – February 3

There’s one thing about this year’s Noir City that must be acknowledged right away: They unquestionably have the most bad-ass logo in the history of film festivals:NOIR CITY X, the 10th Annual San Francisco Film Noir Foundation, presented by the Film Noir Foundation

Now that you’ve enjoyed the visuals, what will they be screening?

Over the course of 11 days, the festival will show 27 features from the 30s (proto-noir), 40s, 50, and into the 60s. These include one film that everyone knows, Sunset Boulevard, another that everyone should know–opening night’s Gun Crazy, The way-ahead-of-its-time Intruder In the Dust, and 24 movies that I would very much like to get acquainted with.

Others that sound promising include James Whale’s pre-code The Kiss Before the Mirror, Native Son, and Experiment In Terror.

Three of the films will be screened in what the festival describes as "35mm restorations." I assume this means that the source materials were in good enough condition to not need digital restorations. Several others have undergone "4K digital restorations." I don’t know if these will be screened in 35mm or DCP. Nor am I worried about that one way or another.

February 7-21

I can’t tell you anything about this one yet except the date. I’ll have more information, and a URL, come the second week of January.

Silent Winter
February 16

This year’s San Francisco Silent Film Festival winter event will take place over one long but (presumably) fun day at the Castro. The program contains the 1916 version of Snow White, a selection of three Buster Keaton Shorts, The Thief of Bagdad (my favorite Douglas Fairbanks movie), My Best Girl (Mary Pickford’s last silent and the only film in the series I haven’t already seen), and F. W. Murnau’s Faust. Donald Sosin will cover most of the films on the grand piano, but Faust will get the full Mighty Wurlitzer organ treatment by Christian Elliott, and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra will help Fairbanks do his magic.

The sad part: I’m not sure I’ll be able to attend. I’m directing a play that will have its one and only performance a week later.