Saturday, May 31, 2008

Linking Feller: May

The San Francisco Film Society is best known for running the San Francisco International Film Festival, but has been putting on an increasing amount of other film events throughout the year. Now, starting June 13, the Film Society will begin providing 365-day-a-year content on a special SFFS Screen at the Sundance Kabuki theatre. The first set of films have been announced as follows:

June 13-19 Times and Winds from Turkey. I missed it at the 2007 SFIFF, despite the praise of Michael Guillén among others. I'm glad for another chance.

June 20-26 Woman on the Beach from Korea. One of my favorite films of 2007 despite only being able to see it once, at the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival.

June 27-July 3, the Romance of Astreé and Céladon, from France. Directed by Eric Rohmer of Claire's Knee and the Green Ray, who says it is going to be his last feature film. Hard to compare with Rohmer's masterpieces (such as the aforementioned two), it nonetheless was one of my favorites at this last SFIFF. Fernando F. Croce, in his festival report, calls the film "radically quaint" before praising its "ravishing examination of the folly of love" - that sounds about right to me!

July bookings on the SFFS screen will also include Hank and Mike, Blind Mountain and Wonderful Town.

In other Frisco film links: the Yerba Beuna Center for the Arts has a tremendous June line-up, including films by auteurs Jia Zhang-ke, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Michael Haneke which have never graced Frisco cinema screens before. Between that, the PFA, the various film festivals listed to the right, and the new Stanford Theatre calendar (celebrating Bette Davis, Jimmy Stewart, and classic Hollywood in general), I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to fit in the viewing of the entire Berlin Alexanderplatz at SFMOMA. Who said June was going to be a calm month for Frisco filmgoing?

I was extremely honored to be among those singled out by one of the classiest bloggers around, Kimberly Lindbergs of Cinebeats, who mentioned Hell on Frisco Bay in a Behind the Blog spotlight at Film in Focus. Cinebeats is one of those blogs so well-written, well-focused, and well-designed that I can get intimidated. Her kind words mean a lot to me as I approach the end of my third year of writing this blog.

Two other bloggers mentioned by Kimberly have grabbed my attention recently as well.

Dennis Cozzalio has put up his latest survey: "Professor Brian O'Blivion's All New Flesh For Memorial Day Film (and TV) Quiz. Answering Dennis's sometimes deep, sometimes frivolous, always thoughtful questions has been a delightful time-suck for me again and again and again and again. This one's no different. I started filling out my answer sheet, but then my browser froze and my answers were lost ("my dog ate it" for the "New Flesh" generation) but I will finish this quiz as soon as I can. Thank Videodrome it's a take-home!

And Girish Shambu has announced that he's going to be in Frisco for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival running July 11-13, at the encouragement of Michael Guillén and along with Darren Hughes. Girish was one of the first commenters here at Hell on Frisco Bay (Dennis was too) and since I've never met him in person I'm thrilled that I'll finally have the chance!


  1. I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this, but Girish told me in person to check out your blog since it was about San Francisco film. Did. Faithful reader ever since. Maybe I'd have found it eventually anyway, but I bet the alert helped me catch more than a few screenings that I'd otherwise have missed.

    I think what the film society is doing is really cool, and I'll be curious to see what kinds of things they program. They're off to an excellent start, I'd say. I'm not crazy about Times and Winds, but I mean using their screen to show lost or forgotten festival films that might not get a week-long run if they weren't picking them up.

  2. Well, that's a heartwarming little story. Thanks for sharing it. I'll have to thank our matchmaker when I finally meet him.

    I'm excited to see Woman on the Beach again- even if it's going to cost more than a movie ticket normally does.

  3. Which leads me to my complaint. What's it going to cost to see these films? $10 at the cheapest? $13 more ordinarily. $1 off if you're a SFFS member. Although I'm enthused about this SFFS project; I'm not enthused about the prices.

    I'm off to a GFI board meeting where this issue will raise its ugly little head yet again. I want to place Global Lens at PFA where I feel the audiences are built in. Susan wants to wait and get in on the Sundance Kabuki phenomenon; but, as I told her bluntly, no one is going to pay $13 to see small narrative-driven films.

    I guess I'm just a naysayer.

  4. It appears that prices at the Sundance Kabuki range from $8.50 (1st show of the day Mon-Thurs when there's no "convenience" fee) to a whopping $13.50 (Fri and Sat nights).

    Maya, I would agree that Global Lens would attract a bigger audience at the PFA than at the Kabuki, regardless of ticket price. Hopefully, either venue would do better than the disastrous showing Global Lens made at the Roxie last year.

    Personally, I'm quite disappointed at the initial line-up for the Kabuki's SFFS screen. I thought the screen was going to be used for local premieres of films with limited theatrical distribution (i.e. the multitude of films that play for one week in NYC and then disappear) or great films without distribution from other festivals that for one reason or another didn't get fest play here. But instead, four of the six films announced are Bay Area reruns. I've seen all four and all are worthy titles, but TIMES AND WINDS is the only one I'd consider taking a second look at. Of the two remaining films, BLIND MOUNTAIN is exactly the kind of thing I'd hoped we'd find on the SFFS screen. Director Yang Li's follow-up to 2003's BLIND SHAFT had a brief run in NYC earlier this year and evidently wasn't picked up by Landmark or anyone else for a local run. The sixth film, HANK AND MIKE, is something I doubt I'd go see even if it were free (based solely on it's trailer).

  5. Maya, I hope Global Lens gets placed somewhere where appreciative audiences are most likely to find it.

    Michael, I understand your concern that four of these six films are "reruns", and I share it to an extent, but I also want to withhold judgment on the venture so early. It seems to me that the SFFS Screen is going to require a great deal of positive word-of-mouth early on if it's going to successfully launch, and from that perspective it makes sense to choose titles that have already charmed local audiences who just might tell their friends. Once a greater number of people have sampled the offerings and the SFFS Screen has a solid reputation, I would hope they'll put more of their focus on quality films that have bypassed Frisco and are unknown to its residents, outside of people who read cinephile magazines, blogs, etc. with as much gusto as you and I.

    I'm not sure how many of these films played in New York for much longer than a week. With Landmark having enough trouble with their current approach in this town that they felt it wise to open Speed Racer at the Bridge, it may be that the threshold of the "distributed-in New York but not here" film has changed.

  6. What is the running time of the version of Woman on the Beach that is being screened? For some reason, the theatrical film distributed by New Yorker films is half an hour shorter than the original version. The DVD I bought was actually on sale for less than the price of a movie ticket and is actually region free.

    I've been reading good stuff about Wonderful Town which I hope finds its way to Denver.

  7. Thanks for pointing that out, Peter! Indeed there is a discrepancy between the listed running time of Woman on the Beach - is the New Yorker print confirmed to be shorter, or is it possibly a misprint that's been repeated? I suppose I'll find out for myself in a couple weeks (The version I saw at the SFIAAFF lasted over two hours).

    I liked Wonderful Town but suspect I'd have liked it more had I not had such high expectations for it following its accolades from European festivals. Which is why I'm glad I'll have another chance to revisit outside the insanity of a festival setting. Especially since the film's conclusion puts all that went before it into a new light.