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San Francisco International Film Festival

2013 SFIFF highlights Steven Soderbergh, Robert Reich


San Francisco International Film Festival

What Maisie Knew opens the 2013 SF International Film Festival.

Photo by JoJo Whilden/courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

Get ready to spend the end of April and early May in the dark indoors as the 2013 San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) unleashes nearly 160 films from 50 countries, from April 25 to May 9, 2013. Lines will wind around the Castro and the Sundance Kabuki theaters at unusual hours, director Steven Soderbergh will chat about his retirement and the future of cinema, and at a festival soiree or party, you could run into inventor Ray Dolby (of Dolby Laboratories fame) or actors like Julie Delpy, Michael Cera, Joan Chen and Kate Bosworth.

Here are some highlights of the 2013 SFIFF. We've also listed separately films with SF Bay Area connections. Check SFIFF's film index and ticket page for more info.

Self-absorbed parents use their six-year-old daughter to battle each other in What Maisie Knew, a film that focuses on the girl’s point of view and that’s loosely based on an 1897 Henry James novel. The outstanding cast includes Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan as the parental nightmares, though critics have raved most about six-year-old newcomer Onata Aprile. She and directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel, who started their film careers in the Bay Area and are now based in New York, are slated to attend the opening night festivities.
Opening night party: Temple Nightclub, SoMa.

Steven Soderbergh, who shot to fame with his 1989 debut sex, lies, and videotape and has directed two dozen other features in as many years, will talk about modern cinema, society and culture in this annual SFIFF address. The cutting-edge filmmaker, 50, declared in January that he wants to retire from movies and spend time painting instead. It was a jolt in the movie world.

Then again, “anyone who has expected him to do anything in particular has been wrong,” the New Yorker says, noting the documentaries, thrillers, historical dramas, star vehicles, sci-fi, biopics, sociological studies and other works that the Oscar winner has made. It’s hard to believe that Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Schizopolis, Che, Contagion, Magic Mike, The Limey and the Ocean’s trilogy all came from the same director.

Soderbergh, who has also experimented with distribution and broadcasting technologies and channels, “has been a one-man force for change in the film business,” says San Francisco Film Society executive director Ted Hope, who invited Soderbergh to SFIFF.

The rich aren't spending enough, and the nation's growing income gap is disastrous for everyone, Robert Reich explains in Inequality for All, which won the special jury award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The former U.S. labor secretary, now a UC-Berkeley public policy professor, shows that economic inequality isn't necessarily inevitable and isn't just an issue of fairness. Reich and Berkeley director Jacob Kornbluth (brother of Bay Area performer Josh Kornbluth) are expected to participate in a Q&A session after the film.
Post-screening party: Roe nightclub, SoMa.

Richard Linklater, director of Slacker, Dazed and Confused and Fast Food Nation, talks about his Before trilogy, which ends with Before Midnight, SFIFF's closing night film. The series began in 1995 with a couple meeting in Europe in Before Sunrise. Julie Delpy, who has starred in all three films, is expected to join Linklater on stage.

It’s Before Midnight, almost two decades after they first met. Jesse and Céline (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) are a couple nearing mid-life and wondering about commitment and love. The two actors and director Richard Linklater co-wrote the screenplay for the last in Linklater’s trilogy that includes Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Linklater is expected to be present.
Closing night party: Ruby Skye, near Union Square..


Jem Cohen (Work outside of narrative feature filmmaking): April 28
Citing his wide-ranging work that defies labels and shakes up the way we see familiar and everyday situations, SFIFF has named Cohen the winner of its annual Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award, which recognizes a “filmmaker whose main body of work is outside the realm of narrative feature filmmaking.”
Besides writing, directing and shooting films like CHAIN and Benjamin Smoke, Cohen has produced still photography and art installations. He has directed videos for R.E.M. and has worked with other musicians such as Patti Smith, Jonathan Richman and Fugazi. After Cohen's interviewed on stage, his latest film, Museum Hours, will be shown.

Peter von Bagh: May 4
Film director, critic, historian, curator and festival director, von Bagh is being recognized for his lifelong work of promoting international cinema to the public. He has written, published, edited or contributed to dozens of film-related books and has been the curator of the Finnish Film Archive and the artistic director of a film festival in Bologna. He is also the director and a co-founder of the one-of-a-kind Midnight Sun Film Festival, held in a Finnish village above the Arctic Circle during the summer, when the sun doesn’t set--so films are screened around the clock.
Von Bagh will talk about his many film roles, followed by a showing of Helsinki, Forever, his collage of archival footage, fictional movie clips, art works, music and narration that portrays the capital and its history, people and cinema.

Philip Kaufman (Directing): May 5
SFIFF honors Kaufman for his “intelligent movies” incorporating complex characters and “subjects Hollywood normally names verboten,” e.g., “politics, power, sex, and pleasure.” His first film, Goldstein, won a prize at Cannes in 1964. The long-time San Francisco resident, who will be interviewed on stage, also directed The Right Stuff, Henry & June, Hemingway and Gellhorn and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, his 1978 thriller about an epidemic taking over San Francisco, will be shown.

Eric Roth (Screenwriting): May 8
The writer behind Forrest Gump (for which he won an Oscar), Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and other movies is receiving SFIFF’s annual screenwriting award. Roth will be interviewed on stage, with a showing of excerpts from films he’s written. Roth was nominated for an Oscar for The Insider; the film, starring Russell Crowe as a tobacco-company-executive-turned-whistleblower, will be screened.

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