Film Review

Otar, Otar, how does your "Garden" grow?

A rare cinematic treat
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The San Francisco International Film Festival is offering a rare treat this year with its presentation of Otar Iosseliani's latest film, Gardens in Autumn, and Julie Bertuccelli's documentary about Iosseliani, Otar Iosseliani, The Whistling Blackbird. Read more »

The four men in "The Iron Mask"

Stepping out of a classic
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When The Iron Mask screens at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival, four disparate cinematic personalities will merge - three in spirit and one in the flesh.

Now 68, Kevin Brownlow made his first feature film, 1966's It Happened Here, while in his 20s and subsequently published two books, one (How It Happened Here) on the making of that movie and another (The Parade's Gone By) featuring interviews with silent-era filmmakers and stars. At that time, the silent era was almost like a technical glitch to be overcome and forgotten. Read more »

Do you remember your first time?

Debut fiction features at the fest
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Of the hundreds of thousands of feature movies made in the past century, how many were spectacular debuts? Maybe 30? Reason decrees that we can't expect the 11 first features that make up this year's SKYY Prize nominees to be brilliant; frankly, they're not. Read more »

On tone's tail

A brief history of star wars and star awards at the SFIFF
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> a&eletters@sfbg.com

With that inimitable San Franciscan condescension toward anything too popular, various eyes rolled skyward when the SF Film Society announced the tributees at the 50th SF International Film Festival would include the two most famous Hollywood-type people who live hereabouts, George Lucas and Robin Williams. Like a canyon-echoed foghorn, bass exhalations of "borrrrrr-ing" filled select pockets of local airspace. Read more »

Magic stoned

Video artist Kelly Sears's animated shorts crystallize pop-cult preoccupations
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> kimberly@sfbg.com

Dream catchers and rainbows. Stately dragons that soar the starry skies as majestically as a space station and more Marshall stacks than you can shake a pewter warlock wand at. Lone wolves and lynx meeting under snowy boughs in untamed, magical communion. Daggers with serpentine handles morphing gently into stalactites and snowflakes. Wizards solemnly lifting crystal balls aloft in triumph, taking a Festival Viking cruise past jagged pink quartz reefs. Read more »

Bubblegum bandits

HK hottie Daniel Wu spoofs boy bands (and himself) in directorial debut The Heavenly Kings
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> cheryl@sfbg.com

I'm only a little bit ashamed to admit that I loved Making the Band. No, not the acceptably addictive, Diddy-produced Danity Kane version. I'm talking about the one that birthed O-Town, baby - the quintet of preppy dudes united by boy-band Svengali Lou Pearlmen for three seasons of semi-emotive crooning, thrusting choreography, manufactured drama, and all the *NSYNC coattail riding instant fame could buy. Read more »

There's no place like home

Pedro Costa's Colossal Youth digs up life amid the ruins
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In his recent book Poor People, William T. Vollmann writes, "For me, poverty is not mere deprivation; for people may possess fewer things than I and be richer; poverty is wretchedness. It must then be an experience more than an economic state. It therefore remains somewhat immeasurable." Despite the enormity of such a disclaimer, Vollmann attempts to calibrate a calculus of misery. Portuguese director Pedro Costa seems motivated by a similarly conflicted impetus. Read more »

The departed

Heddy Honigmann goes looking for Forever in Paris's Pere-Lachaise
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The idea that death is the great equalizer only seems true in the narrowest sense. As with life, it takes all kinds: romantic deaths and pointless ones, iconic casualties and anonymous mortalities. One might fairly expect a documentary about Paris's Pere-Lachaise Cemetery to be a macabre portrait of death cults, given its status as a tourist trap. But Forever, the latest film by Heddy Honigmann, finds solace in more introspective rituals. Read more »

The silver screen turns gold

The Guardian Guide to the 50th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival
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The oldest film festival in the United States and Canada, the San Francisco International Film Festival reaches its golden anniversary this year. Read more »

Take 50

Our picks for the SF International Film Festival
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TAKE 50: SF INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

THURS/26

*Golden Door (Emanuele Crialese, Italy/France, 2006). Epic in scope, playful in its stylistic shifts and tonal splices, and sumptuous in its painterly framing and use of light, Golden Door looks on an age-old American saga - an immigrant family's crossing from the Old World to the new - with startlingly fresh, impassioned eyes. Read more »