2017’s first film festivals

I’m pretty sure the Bay Area won’t see any more film festivals this year. December is generally a festival-free month.

But come January and February, we’ll see plenty of festivals. Here are four that have already announced their line-ups:

For Your Consideration

January 6 – 12

Not every subtitled movie can qualify for the Foreign Language Oscar. Only those selected by their country of origin (one per country) can be considered for nomination.

Over seven days, For Your Consideration will screen 15 of the 85 films currently in the competition.

I’ve seen two of the 15, and I can recommend both of them highly:

  • Julieta: Pedro Almodovar’s sad yet sexy tale of love, lust, and loss; a story of having what you want and losing what you care about most.
  • Toni Erdmann:
    Imagine a Marx Brothers movie weaved into a reasonably realistic family comedy/drama that runs almost three hours. And yet, for the most part, it works.


I should add that you don’t have to attend the festival to see these two films. They’ll be in Bay Area theaters come January. But most of the other 13 films in the festival probably won’t.

The California Film Institute isn’t officially calling this a film festival, but 15 films in seven days qualifies in my mind.

SF Sketchfest

January 12-29
various venues

This isn’t really a film festival. SF Sketchfest covers all sorts of comedy–most of it live. But the event has some interesting movie-based events.

There’s a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000-inspired lunacy this year. You can enjoy bad movies with comic commentary at Shouting at the Screen with Wyatt Cenac and Donwill, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ with Doug Benson and Friends, and ‘Grease 2’ – The Peaches Christ Experience. You can even catch some actual MST3K veterans in Live Movie Riffing with Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff.

Among movies intended to be funny, Sketchfest’s will screen The Kentucky Fried Movie, What’s Up Doc?, and Kung Pow: Enter The Fist. Filmmakers will be present.

Noir City

January 20 – 29

One of the most enjoyable festivals in the Bay Area, Eddie Muller’s wallow into the dark side of movies always entertains. This year’s theme: The Big Knockover: 24 movies about well-planned crime–hold-ups, heists, and so on–that never seem to be as well-planned as the criminals thought.

The festival isn’t sticking to classic Hollywood noir of the 40s and 50s this year. The movies come from all over the world and some of them were even made in this century. I think this is the first Noir City lineup with more color films than black-and-whites.

A few of the most tempting double bills on the schedule:

  • The wonderful, classic-era noir Kansas City Confidential forces an innocent patsy to prove that he wasn’t in on the job. Read my report. It’s double-billed with Violent Saturday, a rare color noir from 1955.
  • Federico Fellini never directed a noir, but he wrote Four Ways Out. On a double bill with the classic crime comedy, Big Deal On Madonna Street.
  • The very dark Ealing Studios comedy The Ladykillers (not to be confused with the Coen Brothers remake) on a double bill with another British crime tale, The League of Gentlemen.
  • Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant The Killing (read my report) plays with a Japanese film called (at least in English) Cruel Gun Story.
  • We can return to 1978 for a double bill of Blue Collar and Straight Time (I haven’t seen either of them, but I want to).
  • Noir City closes with Sidney Lumet’s last film, the excellent Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. When I reviewed it in 2007, I described it as “more like Bergman with guns than standard Hollywood fare.” On a double bill with Victoria, a 2017 German thriller made in a single take.

The Killing

Mostly British Film Festival

February 16 – 23

Here’s your chance to watch foreign films without subtitles. Nine days of movies from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa.

In addition to a lot of new films, none of which I’ve seen, the festival will screen the classic 1986 noir Mona Lisa, starring Bob Hoskins and directed by Neil Jordan. Also among the classics: the silent melodrama Underground, which I liked very much when I saw it in 2014. Unfortunately, Mostly British appears to be showing it without live accompaniment.


The festival devotes most of Saturday, February 18 to the Beatles. They’ll screen two narrative features about the Fab Four’s early days: Backbeat from 1994, and 2009’s Nowhere Boy (see my review). I liked both a lot.They’re also screening A Hard Day’s Night.

But for me, the most exciting event is An Evening with Anne V. Coates. The famed film editor, now in her 90s, has been cutting movies since The Red Shoes in 1948. She became a full-fledged editor in 1952 with The Pickwick Papers. She also cut Lawrence of Arabia, The Horse’s Mouth, Becket, Erin Brockovich, and Fifty Shades of Grey. After David Thomson interviews Coates, the audience will be treated to Murder on the Orient Express (which, of course, she cut).

Other festivals

As of yet, I know very little about what will screen at these three festivals. But I’ll give you what I can:

  • SF Independent Film Festival (AKA: IndieFest): It will run February 2 – 15, probably at the Roxie. I won’t know much more until next month’s press conference.
  • Berlin & Beyond: The website is up, but the full schedule is yet to be announced. The dates are February 3 – 8.
  • The big one, the San Francisco International Film Festival, will run earlier than usual this year: April 5 – 19. That means that, for the second year in a row, SFIFF will conflict with Passover.