We’ve still got more than two weeks to go before the San Francisco International Film Festival announces this year’s program, but they’ve already fed us a few interesting tidbits about what we have to look forward to.
The biggest change: The festival won’t be in the Western Addition anymore. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Last fall, Sundance sold the Kabuki multiplex–for a long time the festival’s primary home–to Carmike, a company that doesn’t strike me as festival-friendly. Besides, the ongoing CAAMfest moved out of the Kabuki this year.
Like CAAMfest, SFIFF is planting its flag in the Mission. Specifically, it will screen movies in four venues within blocks of each other: The New Mission, The Roxie, The Victoria, and The Gray Area (AKA The Grand). From a transportation point of view, this is a big improvement–at least for me. All four venues are in easy walking distance from the 16th St. or 24th St. BART stations (which are actually in close walking distance to each other). And even the Castro, where so many of the big events take place, is only about a 20-minute walk from festival center.
But one issue worries me. None of these Mission theaters can seat as many people as the Kabuki’s big auditorium. The New Mission’s own big auditorium is huge, but the emphasis on comfort and service reduced the seating capacity to 326. (On the other hand, comfort and service mean a lot when you’re seeing four or five movies a day.) There may be more sold-out shows.
I suspect that more of the big events will happen at the Castro.
And amongst those big Castro events will be this year’s Mel Novikoff Award presentation–which goes to a person or (in this case) institution who helps keep people aware of great cinema. This year’s winners: Janus Films and the Criterion Collection. These companies, which work very close with each other, deserve the Novikoff. Between them, they’ve made the works of Bergman, Kurosawa, Welles, and many other great filmmakers available to theatrical and home viewing.
Janus and Criterion will be honored on April 30, 3:00, with a screening of the Coen Brothers’ first feature, Blood Simple–newly restored by the two companies. The brothers will be there, as part of a panel to discuss the companies’ histories.
The Persistence of Vision Award will go to the British company Aardman Animation, creators of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run.
Unfortunately for me (and other observant Jews), the festival runs from April 21 through May 5, coinciding almost exactly with the eight-day festival of Passover. I’ll have to miss the first two full days of the festival. And for the next six days after that, I’ll have to bring pretty much all my own food.
When your religion and your passion conflict, you have to work things out.