Film

The necessity of images

Jafar Panahi tests the limits of his filmmaking ban with This Is Not a Film

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FILM Jafar Panahi is no longer allowed to make films in Iran. So, with the help of documentarian Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, he made This Is Not a Film.

After arrests in 2009 and 2010, Panahi was sentenced to a 20-year ban from filmmaking and a six-year prison term for "assembly and colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country's national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic," as reported by the Green Voice of Freedom, a human rights website. He is also barred from leaving the country or giving interviews.Read more »

Fact: your heart will go on if you skip 'Titanic 3D'

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We already made fun of Titanic 3D last week (spoiler alert: Kate aged better than Leo), and the only other big Hollywood cheese opening this week is American Reunion (spoiler alert: Alyson Hannigan's career has aged better than Jason Biggs').

Of slightly more urgent, politically relevent, Celine Dion-less note, check out Sam Stander's review of This Is Not a Film, a movie by embattled filmmaker Jafar Panahi that was literally smuggled out of Iran on a flash drive hidden in a cake. It opens Fri/13 at the SF Film Society Cinema (a zone soon to be taken over by the upcoming San Francisco International Film Festival, kicking off April 19).

If you're an artist yourself, possibly one who looks spiffy in a pair of chaps, the Folsom Street Fair (which has a new date this year!) has put out a call to independent filmmakers interested in working on a planned documentary on "the grandaddy of all leather events." From the Folsom Street Events press release:

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Cherry bombs away: Write up your first time for a good cause

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Today I wrote a story about my sexual initiation. I forwarded my story to my friends, we discussed, they wrote down theirs. Turns out one of my loved ones did the deed over half an ecstasy pill on Staten Island. Another's first time was with a boyfriend so unmemorable that she couldn't remember identifying characteristics. Apparently they had a hard time getting it in.  

Is there a moment in life that is as important, yet less talked-about than the dismissal of one's virginity? Hardly. So few things equaled the cheap thrill I got from handing over my own story to local author turned filmmaker Laura Goode to publish on her film's new fundraising website. Read more »

Solo mio

Gianni Di Gregorio returns with a gentle sequel to Mid-August Lunch

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FILM The phenomenon of grown children remaining under (or returning to) mom and dad's roof well after the customary sell-by date has been a regular topic of late in American entertainment and pop sociology.Read more »

Mister Vengeance

Iranian filmmaker Rafi Pitts' tense, taut Hunter

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FILM Iran is the kind of nation where political protest in public art has to be muted or disguised. It was well buried in recent hit A Separation, and is just slightly more apparent in Rafi Pitts' The Hunter. Shot and set during the contentious 2009 Presidential campaign — Pitts is a rare expat filmmaker allowed to shoot in the country his family left decades ago — it starts as a Kafka-esque portrait of quiet desperation in a cold, empty Tehran, then turns into a sort of existential thriller. Read more »

The Performant: Pixel visions

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The Disposable Film Festival turns five.

If you were the kind of kid who, when introduced to the concept of abstract art, would grab the fingerpaints and try to top Jackson Pollock’s “No. 11,” then chances are at some point you’ve harbored a desire to take on the movie industry with your own resources. After all, the tools are out there, within grasp of anyone with access to equipment as modest as a camera-phone or a web-cam. And just as the advent of the analog camcorder was hailed as a democratization of the cinematic art-form, so too can the current craze for digital gear be read not just as consumerist one-upmanship, but an earnest bid for creative parity.

Well, if it’s artistic inspiration you crave, and fingerpaints aren’t cutting it anymore, you need look no further than the Disposable Film Festival, which took place this past weekend, dedicated to screening the best of the no-budget brigade, for motivation. Lest the term “disposable” put you off, festival co-founder Carlton Evans is quick to amend: the technology is what’s considered disposable here, not the creative output. 

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Five weeks till "The Avengers"! What to watch while you're counting down

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The truth is, The Hunger Games will still be raking in mad dough this weekend. (Even Julia Roberts can't step to Katniss Everdeen, and if John Carter is any indication of moviegoers' fatigue of CG uber-spectacle, Wrath of the Titans is doomed. Though, to be fair, if anyone can step to Katniss Everdeen, it's Liam Neeson.)

So. Your weekend options include: The Hunger Games, round two; re-watching last week's zooby-zooby-zoo-tastic Mad Men season premiere over and over until episode two airs; or binging on all of Game of Thrones, season one, to prep for that show's return to HBO (praise to R'hllor!) Also: Sat/31 and Sun/1 screenings remain of 1927 masterpiece/cinema event of the season Napoleon at Oakland's Paramount. (Ain't cheap, but worth it.)

If you really, really want to take in a new movie, the rep and art houses are the place to be Fri/30. Tom "Loki" Hiddleston squeezes in some acting cred ahead of The Avengers' May 4 release, starring opposite Oscar winner Rachel Weisz in the new one from Terence Davies (2000's The House of Mirth):

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Lost at sea

Could a world-class arts festival save the foundering America's Cup?

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cheryl@sfbg.com

AMERICA'S CUP Clear your mind, if you can, of brawls over San Francisco piers and other obscenely expensive parcels of waterfront real estate. Focus solely on the inevitability of the 34th annual America's Cup.Read more »

Get 'Wilde': Al Pacino's new doc receives red carpet opening at Castro

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All my amigo Morlock E. wants to know is where Frank Chu is, since Frank Chu is still a fairly good indicator of being at the most happening event of the evening -- or at any rate the one with the most television cameras. But instead of Frank, all we see is a crush of autograph seekers pressed against the velvet rope separating them from the red carpet unfurled outside the Castro Theatre. They’re not here to see Frank Chu, and in truth, neither are we. We’re here to get a photo of Al Pacino and maybe touch the hem of his cloak, at the US premiere of his latest project, a documentary entitled Wilde Salome.

Since it’s not every day San Francisco gets to play host to a big premiere, the Wed/21 turnout is robust, convivial. Also a fundraiser for the GLBT Historical Society -- there are some quite dapper dandies in attendance, an element one feels certain Wilde would have approved of. But one gets the impression that the autograph-hounds are less enamored with the Wildean aspect of the event rather than the chance to shake the hand of Scarface, but Wilde, with his penchant for “rough trade” might well have approved of that too.

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"Hunger Games" tix sold out? See one of these movies instead!

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Reports are flooding in about sold-out Hunger Games woes. Don't worry, you won't have to hit up John Carter again for your cinematic fix -- here's a list of some great new films opening this weekend, from mad action to tender realism. For even more, hit up this week's Film Listings. All films open Fri/23.

The Kid with a Bike Slippery as an eel, Cyril (Thomas Doret) is the bane of authorities as he tries to run away at any opportunity from school and a youth home — being convinced that the whole adult world is conspiring to keep his father away from him. During one such chase he literally runs into hair-salon proprietor Samantha (Cécile De France), who proves willing to host him on weekends away from his public facility, and is a patient, steadying influence despite his still somewhat exasperating behavior.

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