WHAT: The opening-night film of the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival is, according to my research via the SFIFF History Site:
The first Henry James adaptation the festival has shown since 1971's showing of Michael Winner's The Nightcomers starring Marlon Brando as Peter Quint from The Turn of the Screw.
The first SFIFF film to star Julianne Moore since The Laws Of Attraction in 2004 (a widely-ridiculed choice for closing night film that year), and the first to star Steve Coogan since The Trip in 2011.
The return of co-directing team Scott McGehee and David Siegel as festival guests for the first time since 2001, when they screened their remake of The Reckless Moment entitled The Deep End, and introduced a revival screening of Masahiro Shinoda's Double Suicide; McGehee had studied Japanese cinema at UC Berkeley where he met Siegel, and the influence of the Japanese New Wave is evident in their first SFIFF selection, the 1994 festival film Suture.
WHERE/WHEN: 7:00 tonight at the Castro Theatre.
WHY: In all my years attending the San Francisco International Film Festival, I've never seen an opening night film that was a great masterpiece for the ages, but that's no knock on the selections I've seen (which is admittedly not all of them). Most are usually high-quality accessible fare made for educated audiences, without the airs of self-importance that so many Oscar season releases arrive with. With one exception (the disappointing Hong Kong musical Perhaps Love that opened the festival in 2006) each one I've seen has been well worth my time. Worth the money is another question; I've never attended the actual opening-night screening but instead caught the film itself either at a press showing beforehand or in a commercial venue afterword (I completely missed Costa-Gavras's The Ax, the one fest opener since I've been attending that never screened a local venue after its festival showing.) I presume the attendees of this event realize it's a fundraiser and a soiree and a chance to see talent on the stage of the Castro. Tonight both directors and Onata Aprile are expected to be in attendance.
I won't be attending tonight either, I suspect. I still have a lot of writing to do to prepare for the next fourteen days, and I think I can wait until the expected May 24th Frisco Bay release date for the film. Although by then New York audiences will have already had three weeks to make me wish I hadn't missed this early screening, as it opens there May 3rd.
If you decide to stay at home and prepare for the rest of the festival as well, you'll probably want to see the list of Rush screenings (where advance tickets are no longer available and you'll need to wait in a line in order to procure any available extras), and the excellent festival previews written by local writers Michael Hawley, Kelly Vance, and Adam Hartzell, as well as Cheryl Eddy, Dennis Harvey and other SF Bay Guardian writers.
HOW: DCP presentation.