The San Francisco International Film Festival began last night with the opening night screening of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s new film, Micmacs, and runs through May 6th. The films and special presentations are playing across multiple theaters throughout the city, and they represent works from hundreds of film-makers from all around the world.

Founded in 1957, the San Francisco International Film Festival is the longest-running film festival in the Americas. Held each spring for two weeks, the International is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in the country’s most beautiful city, featuring some 150 films and live events with more than 100 filmmakers in attendance and nearly two dozen awards presented for cinematic excellence. The Festival attracts an annual audience of more than 80,000.

Highly anticipated by its loyal and passionate audiences, championed by civic and community leaders, admired and adored by filmmakers and closely watched by industry professionals, SFIFF is one of the most important events in the Bay Area’s cultural calendar and an important stop on the international festival circuit.

The International is deeply rooted in the strongest and finest traditions of appreciation of film both as an art form and as a meaningful agent for social change. It is a cultural treasure for Bay Area audiences, who embrace new ideas, compassionate humanity and world citizenship. SFIFF features a bonanza of narrative feature films, live action and animated shorts, television and theatrical documentaries, experimental work and a variety of new digital media, as well as a smart lineup of industry panels and seminars, awards events, onstage tributes, retrospectives and the highly acclaimed Schools at the Festival program, which brings 4,200 students in grades 1–12 into the festivities. Remarkably intimate for a festival of its size and scope, the International combines a range of marquee premieres, international competitions, hard-hitting documentaries, digital media work and star-studded gala events.”

Some of the highly anticipated films screening this year include Bodyguards & Assassins, Cyrus, Gainsbourg, Get Low, I Am Love, Julia, The Loved Ones, Ride With the Devil: Director’s Cut, Splice, and many more. Mixed in with the films will be several special events, including:

An Evening With Roger Ebert & Friends – Roger Ebert will receive the Mel Novikoff Award on Saturday, May 1st. The award, named for the pioneering San Francisco art and repertory film exhibitor Mel Novikoff (1922–87), acknowledges an individual or institution whose work has enhanced the filmgoing public’s knowledge and appreciation of world cinema. The Novikoff Award will be presented on Saturday, May 1 at 5:30 pm at the Castro Theatre. Confirmed guests to date include directors Jason Reitman and Terry Zwigoff, with others to be announced soon.

An Evening With Robert Duvall – Robert Duvall will be the recipient of the Peter J. Owens Award to be presented on Friday, April 30th. The onstage tribute to Duvall at the Castro Theatre will feature a clip reel of career highlights, an onstage interview, and a screening of his most recent film Get Low. Hailed by The New York Times as “the American Laurence Olivier,” Duvall’s nearly 50 years on the screen have made him one of cinema’s most respected and beloved actors. From his screen debut as the mysterious and misunderstood Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird to his indelible Academy Award–nominated performances in The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Great Santini, Tender Mercies (best actor winner), The Apostle and A Civil Action, Duvall has demonstrated an astonishing range and a capaciousness of spirit that have kept him in demand throughout his remarkable career.

An Evening With Don Hertzfeldt: Life, Death, and Very Large Utensils – The 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival is proud to present the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award to Academy Award–nominated short filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt for his unique contributions to animation. Over a long career, Hertzfeldt has remained fiercely independent by sticking to short format and challenging the boundaries of his craft. The popularity of his work is unprecedented in the world of short animation and his films are frequently referenced in pop culture. Hertzfeldt will be presented with the award and participate in an onstage interview at Life, Death and Very Large Utensils at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. A collection of short films, past and present, including I am so proud of you, Intermission in the Third Dimension, and a few surprise selections are set to follow.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with Stephin Merritt – A programming highlight and audience favorite of each year’s International Film Festival is the presentation of an epochal silent film accompanied by the live performance of an original score by a contemporary music artist. For SFIFF53, the remarkably gifted and prolific tunesmith Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields will do the honors at the Castro Theatre in the service of director Stuart Paton’s 1916 epic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The event will take place on Tuesday, May 4th. Merritt will be joined by an ensemble including Castro Mighty Wurlitzer organist David Hegarty, frequent Merritt collaborator and author Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events) on the accordion, and others to be announced.

Check out the SFIFF home page for complete listings of the films and special events, and we’ll see you there from April 23rd-May 6th.


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