Bay Area film fans are still reeling from the loss of popular San Francisco Film Society executive director Graham Leggat, who passed away August 25 at age 51 after an 18-month cancer battle. (In a statement, SFFS board of directors president Pat McBaine called Leggat's tenure "the best years in the life of the Film Society.")
Today comes another blow, from multiple social media and blog reports, of yesterday's passing of George Kuchar, beloved underground filmmaker extraordinaire. By himself and with his twin brother, Mike, George Kuchar — who influenced innumerable young artists while teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute — directed over 200 films, as wild and creative as they were low-budget, and almost always boasting titillating titles: Color Me Shameless (1967), Hold Me While I'm Naked (1966), The Devil's Cleavage (1973). He also wrote the screenplay for 1975 horror-porn-turned-midnight-classic, Thundercrack!
In 1981 Deborah Kaufman founded the nation's first Jewish Film Festival in San Francisco. Thirteen years later, with similar festivals burgeoning in the wake of SFJFF's success — there are now over a hundred around the globe — she left the festival to make documentaries of her own with life partner and veteran local TV producer Alan Snitow.
Their latest, Between Two Worlds, which opens at the Roxie Fri/5 while playing festival dates, could hardly be a more personal project for the duo. Both longtime activists in various Jewish, political, and media spheres, Snitow and Kaufman were struck — as were plenty of others — by the rancor that erupted over the SFJFF's 2009 screening of Simone Bitton's Rachel. That doc was about Rachel Corrie, a young American International Solidarity Movement member killed in 2003 by an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer while standing between it and a Palestinian home on the Gaza Strip.
As different sides argued whether Corrie's death was accidental or deliberate, she became a lightning rod for ever-escalating tensions between positions within and without the U.S. Jewish populace on Israeli policy, settlements, Palestinian rights, and more — with not a few commentators amplifying the conservative notion that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, even (or especially) when it comes from Jews themselves.
One of the strongest aspects of the film We Were Here is the intimacy and depth of its interviews (read our review here), so it's with embarrassment and regret that I'm presenting this relatively casual Q&A with director David Weissman with the caveat that it's been marred by a snafu. While transcribing, I discovered that the 'Rec' button on my ancient tape recorder had been triggered when it was in my carrying bag, and a sizable portion of the talk – including passages about archives, filmmaking, community, San Francisco, the cultural influence of The Cockettes, and a younger generation's view of AIDS – had been replaced by the muffled sound of footsteps and traffic. The conversation is lost, but the story isn't: We We Here is screening at the Castro Theatre through Thurs/3. Here's some of what Weissman and I discussed. Read more »
A dark movie house is a great thing. Single? Slink in and bury yourself in the tumultuous happenings of others’ lives. Hot and heavy with a special someone? Gangbusters- find a nice secluded spot in the back row and try not to gross out the single people. Whatever your mood/Facebook relationship status is this Valentine’s Day weekend, the city’s movie theaters have a love-related flick for you and (if that’s where you’re at these days) yours. Grab some buttered popcorn and take a peep.