Friday, April 15, 2011


Cinephiles the world over are poring over the announcements just made about the cinematic feast that is the Cannes Film Festival. But Frisco Bay cinephiles shouldn't get too distracted by these announcements, as we've got our own hearty meal coming out of the kitchen very shortly. The San Francisco International Film Festival opens next week, and tickets are selling briskly for certain shows (rush line only for Werner Herzog's 3-D Cave of Forgotten Dreams, for instance). Preview pieces by the likes of Michael Hawley, Max Goldberg and Richard Von Busack are appearing to help guide the hungry cinemagoer.

For those of us too famished to wait until April 21st, however, there are some mouth-watering appetizers being served up by other film venues and organizations. Tonight, for example Peaches Christ and Sam Sharkey host the San Francisco Underground Short Film Festival, returning to the scene at a new venue after a nearly three-year absence. I attended this one-program "festival" back in 2007 when it was an after-midnight event at the Bridge, and I expect this year's edition at the Victoria to be just as lively and surprising even though it's been moved to the prime time hour. Though nominally devoted to short films, the event includes the first showing of a locally-made feature, Devious, Inc. I'm more drawn to the shorts however, including new films by Beth Lisick and Frazer Bradshaw (who made Everything Strange and New), Lev (Tales of Mere Existence), and David Enos. Some of Enos's earlier works screened at last Friday's Berkeley Art Museum event I mentioned in my previous post, and I really enjoyed seeing how well they played on a good video-projection system in front of an unfamiliar audience. I'm excited for a chance to see him premiere a new video, Ankhs, co-directed by Mishell Stimson, tonight.

The following night is the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's annual tribute to the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, including a screening of the 1922 firefighting drama The Third Alarm, as well as a good print of the last filmed record of San Francisco before the 105-year-old disaster, a Trip Down Market Street by the Miles Brothers. Researcher David Kiehn of the Film Museum was recently interviewed by Sara Vizcarrondo on Look of the Week, and demonstrates a welcome sample of his remarkable knowledge. He'll appear at the San Leandro Public Library on Thursday April 21, to speak about the film and other earthquake-cinema related matters in greater depth and show a Trip Down Market Street as well as a modern documentary on the disaster. The latter is a free event.

Monday night brings another free event to local silent cinema fans: a 35mm print of Brazilian cinema pioneer Humberto Maura's Sleeping Ember. I wrote about another Maura film last year, but Matt Sussmann's article in sf360 has far more fascinating information about Monday's ultra-rare screening.

Yet another free screening happening, the day before SFIFF, is a Castro Theatre showing of the Richard Brooks classic Elmer Gantry, presented with an on-stage q-and-a with Shirley Jones, who won the 1960 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the film. Tickets must be reserved in advance at the Turner Classic Movies website.

One last appetizer before I get to the desserts (in my next post): this Saturday's all-afternoon-and-evening marathon of 1980s nostalgia entitled Heavy Metal Monster Mash should inspire almost a KISS-sized army of headbangers and horror fans to descend on Frisco's largest surviving single-screen theatre, and the highlight of the day for many of them is sure to be actor Fred Dekker's in-person appearance along with his most famous film The Monster Squad. You might want to read sometime Hell On Frisco Bay contributor Sean McCourt's interview with Dekker in the San Francisco Bay Guardian to prepare.


  1. So much going on. Cinephiles can actually cross paths in the dark going to separate events. Not like the ol' days where we'd all be at the same place.

  2. I hope we cross paths soon, Michael!

  3. I hope to see Attenberg. Let us know how you like Hahaha. One of these days I'd like to see one of Hong's films in a theatrical screening.

  4. Attenberg is a strange film indeed. One of the hardest for me to process from the Toronto Film Festival. Perhaps another attempt will be made at SFIFF...

    HaHaHa is one of the highest on my priority list, for certain. I'd like to begin my festival with it (it plays early in the evening this Friday) but I'll have to wait in a rush line to do so.