Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SFIFF54 Day 7: The Sleeping Beauty

The 54nd San Francisco International Film Festival has nearly completed its first week. It runs through May 5th. Each day during the festival I'll be posting a recommendation and capsule review of a film in the festival.

The Sleeping Beauty (FRANCE: Catherine Breillat, 2010)

playing: 6:30 PM this evening, with no more festival screenings scheduled.
distribution: Strand Releasing is reportedly putting out a DVD later this year, but a theatrical release seems up in the air, given that Breillat's last fairy-tale feature was restricted to non-commercial screenings here on Frisco Bay.

I was fortunate to be able to see a number of this year's SFIFF selections at the last Toronto International Film Festival; this was one of them. If you've seen director Catherine Breillat's prior Bluebeard you have something of an idea of what to expect from this, also a beautiful, video-made, 21st Century take on a classic fairy tale. Don't hold on too tightly to these expectations however, as Bluebeard is a much more straightforward retelling of Charles Perrault than the Sleeping Beauty of Grimm, as the latter works in elements from Hans Christen Andersen and Lewis Carrol, plays with its natural time-travel theme in fascinating ways (you'll never guess the graffito that appears in one scene), and even refers back to one of Breillat's early films explicitly.

Breillat is not expected to be at today's screening, but she did answer questions in person at The Sleeping Beauty's Toronto screening I attended. Among other things, she revealed that the casting of the all-previously-unknown actors was the most time-consuming aspect of the production, that the water in the bathing scene pictured above was in fact ice-cold, and that the last shot of the film was taken in her own home. If you attend tonight's screening, and you relate these tidbits to the person in the seat next to you, why not tell you where you learned them? I can always use another reader.

SFIFF54 Day 7
Another option: Le Quattro Volte (ITALY/GERMANY/SWITZERLAND: Michaelangelo Frammartino, 2010) I don't know much about this second-time filmmaker or his film, other than that it's been nicknamed "the goat movie" and drawing passionate raves on its festival tour. It's one of several SFIFF54 films on the just-released Landmark Film Calendar (pdf) but why wait until June 10th when you can see it tonight?

Non-SFIFF-option for today: Splice at the Pacific Film Archive. I've been attending many (about half) of the Film 50 lectures to UC Berkeley students and community members over the past semester; this is the last in the series. They're always packed with information and insight. Professor Russell Merritt is an engaging lecturer who encourages questions and comments, and the 35mm prints are screened flawlessly and often rare. In this week's case, it's a rare in-cinema opportunity to go back in time and see a Canadian horror film that played last year's SFIFF.

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