The 56th annual San Francisco International Film Festival is currently on in the Bay Area. Per usual, there are way too many amazing films, and I regretfully have only seen a few. But this is the story of my life: too many fun things and too little time. I was on vacation the opening weekend of the festival, and then returned home only to be under the weather. On Sunday I tried to make up for lost time by seeing two films.
First up was Rick Prelinger's documentary No More Road Trips? at the Castro Theatre. The work in progress is a documentary that explores the very American tradition of cross country road trips. Prelinger uses vintage home movies filmed by people traveling by car between the 1930's and 1960's to explore the idea that cross county road trips are becoming a thing of the past due to high energy prices and greater access to more expediant air travel. My favorite part of the screening was that the film is silent and the audience is encouraged to shout out questions to Prelinger or make comments to their neighbors. Full disclosure: The guys behind me took this a bit too literally and talked loudly throughout the entire film. Prelinger is continuing to work on No More Road Trips? so there will be future screenings.
I then drove back across the bay to Berkeley to see Big Sur at the Pacific Film Archive. The film is an adaptation of Jack Kerouac novel of the same name. I have a soft spot for anything involving Big Sur, so I was prepared to like the film simply based on subject and filming location. The experience of seeing the film on the big screen in a relatively small theater was very intense. I can't quite articulate the experience, but I felt affected by every moment of the film. When I left the theater I felt like something very significant had happened to me. Big Sur is not perfect; Director Michael Polish could have gone in a different (i.e., better) direction in a number of scenes that were too literal for such an introspective work. And yet, I believe it was one of the most engaging films I've seen in recent memory.
Tonight I will continue to my tradition of seeing every production of a vintage silent film screened with a contemporary live score when I see Waxworks at the Castro Theatre.
I plan to spend tomorrow and Thursday evenings at the festival. It will be a hard decision to choose which films I'll see, but I seem to be on the money with my choices so far. On Thursday evening, I will definitely be at the closing film, Before Midnight, as I am a huge fan of the first two films (Before Sunrise and Before Sunset) in this trilogy. If you're local, here are my picks for the remainder of the festival:
- A Conversation with Richard Linklater at 6 p.m. on Wednesday 5/8 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
- After Tiller at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday 5/8 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
- Before You Know It at 5 p.m. on Thursday 5/9 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
- Fatal Assistance at 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday 5/7 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday 5/8 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
- Habi, the Foreigner at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday 5/9 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
- Il Futuro at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday 5/8 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and at 8:50 p.m. on Thursday 5/9 at Pacific Film Archive
- Inori at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday 5/7 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday 5/8 at Pacific Film Archive
- The Kill Team at 6 p.m. on Tuesday 5/7 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and at 6 p.m. on Thursday 5/9 at New People Cinema
- The Cleaner at 8:40 p.m. on Tuesday 5/7 at Pacific Film Archive and at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday 5/9 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas