San Francisco International Film Festival announced

The Bay Area’s Big Kahuna of film festivals (or at least one of of the two Big Kahunas–the other being Mill Valley), announced most of its line-up today. The 56th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival opens April 25 and runs through May 9. As usual, the heart of the festivities will be at the Kabuki multiplex. But you’ll also find screenings at the New People Cinema (across the street from the Kabuki), the Castro (only a few, big events), the Pacific Film Archive (for those reluctant to cross the Bay), and assorted other venues.

The Festival opens with What Maisie Knew, a very loose, updated adaptation of Henry James’ 1897 novel. 15 days later, it will close with Before Midnight, the threequel to Richard Linklater’s 1995 Before Sunrise.

In between, according to a San Francisco Film Society press release, there will be 65 additional narrative features, 28 documentary features, and 63 shorts coming from 51 different countries.

Some other major events:

  • The Centerpiece screening, Inequality for All, is one of those feature documentaries. It focuses on economist/rabble rouser Robert Reich, and plays Saturday, May 4.
  • A local talent, Phillip Kaufman, receives this year’s Founder’s Directing Award. They’ll screen his 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers at the Castro on Sunday, May 5.
  • Steven Soderbergh, the sometimes-brilliant director who shocked the film world recently by announcing an early retirement, will give this year’s State of Cinema address on Saturday, April 27.
  • Sarah Polley first impressed me as a child actor in The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen. Then as a writer/director with Away from Her and  Take This Waltz. Now she’ll be turning up at the Festival with her new documentary, Stories We Tell.
  • The Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award goes to Jem Cohen. I’m not familiar with his work, but at the press conference this morning, Director of Programming Rachel Rosen described his films as "unclassifiable." However, the title that the festival will screen, Museum Hours, is one of his rare narrative features.
  • The Festival always screens one silent film, at the Castro, with an interesting artist providing musical accompaniment. This year, it’s the German expressionist feature Waxworks. accompanied by Mike Patton, Scott Amendola, Matthias Bossi and William Winant.
  • The big mystery so far: The Festival has yet to announce its Kanbar Award winner. I tend to respect screenwriters more than do most cinephiles, and I’m always eager to see wwho receives one of the few life achievement awards given to those filmmakers who sit and type. I’ll let you know when the recipient is announced.
  • Should be fun.