The largest of the many film festivals that are held in the City will open its doors on April 22 by fifty-third time. For two weeks, locals will be able to enjoy more than 150 films from around the world screening at the Kabuki, Castro and Clay Theaters; as well as Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival.
The event—organized by the San Francisco Film Society, an educational non-profit organization aimed at promoting foreign films at the Bay Area— will also feature live events with more than 100 filmmakers in attendance and nearly two dozen awards presented for cinematic achievements.
SFIFF—with an average annual attendance north of 80,000 people strolling through five-day event—is considered, along with the international film festivals in New York and Toronto, to be one of the most important gatherings in North America’s festival circuit, deemed almost as important the festivals held in Cannes, Berlin and San Sebastián.
“The best and most diverse selection of international cinema,” said SFIFF Director Rachel Rosen, who added that the event is focusing on featuring the work of little known directors, documentaries and foreign films. Not surprisingly, one third of the films that will debut this year are the product of first-film directors.
In addition to being a unique opportunity to see movies that often fail to find distributors, it’s also a chance to meet the filmmakers and discuss their products.
Although meager, the presence of Latin American films this year is no less interesting.
From Mexico comes Alamar, a beautiful portrait of the Caribbean coast, by Pedro González-Rubio, which serves a backdrop to father-and-son summer excursion. Also on the dais is Norteado by Rigoberto Perezcano, which chronicles the difficult journey a Oaxacan man endures while trying cross the border in the US through Tijuana; and Presunto culpable, an award-winning documentary about Kafkaesque-type-maze of the Mexican judicial system by Berkeley filmmakers Roberto Hernández and Geoffrey Smith.
From Brazil, the documentary Simonal – ninguem sabe o duro que dei by Claudio Menoel, Miceal Langer and Calvito Leal depicts the fall of a Brazilian music idol during a military dictatorship; and Transcendendo Lynch by Marcos Andrade follows the American cult filmmaker David Lynch about on his travels.
And follow the tradition of honoring cinematic excellence; the festival will pay tribute to the career of Brazilian Filmmaker Walter Selles, director of the “Motorcycle Diaries” and Central do Brasil, showing fragments of his unfinished production based on the book “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac.
From Argentina comes an affectionate and humorous portrait of small-town life in Argentina called El ambulante by Eduardo de la Serna and Lucas Marcheggiano, nominated for best documentary by SFIFF. The contribition from Colombia comes in the form of “The Wind Journeys” by Ciro Guerra, a beautiful film that recalls the popular legend of a demon accordion, with beautiful music and photography.
Lastly, from Chile comes the movie Te creís la más Linda, pero erís las mas puta by Che Sandoval, a comedy nominated for best opera.
While the selection of titles for this year’s festival this year seem a bit lacking when compared to previous years, the San Francisco International Film Festival continues to be a must for film lovers and those seeking cinematic fare outside of the Hollywood mainstream.