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The Playlist

SFIFF Review: Jesse Moss' Effective Oil Boom Doc ‘The Overnighters’

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • May 6, 2014 6:07 PM
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The Overnighter
The small town of Williston, North Dakota has had an oil boom and people desperate for work from around the country are making the trip out in search of high paying jobs. They’ve heard stories on the news and from a friend of a friend that describe Williston as the unique remaining land of opportunity in a struggling post-recession United States. The reality is that these jobs do exist, but they aren’t as plentiful as promised. Also missing from the stories that drew these men to Williston is the incredibly high cost of housing in the region, inflated due to the influx of people new to the city.

SFIFF: Richard Linklater Talks Early Career, His "Accidental Trilogy" And More With Parker Posey

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • May 5, 2014 11:05 AM
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Friday night at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival, Richard Linklater was awarded with the festival’s Founder’s Directing Award. It’s a fitting year for the director to receive the award given that his 12 years in the making “Boyhood” finally made its debut in January at Sundance (which we reviewed here). It’s an incredible accomplishment, especially given how many films he’s created over that same span, and the San Francisco Film Society (the organization that runs SFIFF) took the opportunity to recognize this fact while simultaneously presenting a screening of “Boyhood.”

SFIFF Review: Hong Sang-soo’s ‘Our Sunhi’ Is Pleasing, But Not Lasting

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • May 1, 2014 5:04 PM
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Our Sunhi
For his 15th feature film, director Hong Sang-soo (“In Another Country,” “The Day He Arrives”) delivers “Our Sunhi,” a playful comedy tracking film student Sunhi (Jung Yoo-mi, of several Hong films) through a trio of obstacles. Those obstacles come in the form of three usually drunk, always too confident, men. The “our” in the film’s english title belongs to those men, all three of whom become enamored with Sunhi over the course of a few days. It’s a layered phrasing, allowing for a friendly recognition of the uniqueness of the Sunhi that they all know but at the same time allows for selfish possessiveness. This word game is a great setup for the film itself as language, misunderstandings, and presumption are all themes played for some solid laughs.

SFIFF Review: Hubert Sauper’s Unflinching South Sudan Documentary ‘We Come As Friends’

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • April 29, 2014 6:06 PM
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  • 1 Comment
We Come As Friends
“We Come as Friends,” director Hubert Sauper’s follow-up to his 2004 documentary “Darwin’s Nightmare,” is a painful record of contemporary colonialism, capturing the realities of life within Sudan (now Sudans, as South Sudan seceded in 2011) via personal portraits of the Sudanese people as well as those present to ostensibly help those that are suffering. Before we get caught up on that red flag of a phrasing, a “painful documentary” that is, know that Sauper isn’t simply requesting our gasps and tears. Instead, he’s succeeded in introducing us to his subjects in an intimate fashion. We are invited to laugh just as often as mournfully submit to the madness of the exploitation of the Sudanese people. The film is revealing while maintaining a regard for its subjects’ humanity, whether meaning to stir up empathy or contempt.

SFIFF Review: 'Inori' Is A Gentle Look At A Slowly Fading, Traditional Way Of Life

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • May 7, 2013 7:57 PM
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Pedro Gonzáles-Rubio’s “Inori” (Japanese for prayer) is set in Kannogawa, Japan, a dying town. There’s no menacing factory in the background spewing smoke or a horrible natural disaster in the recent past haunting the town. In fact, the environment we’re introduced to is serenely beautiful; a misty mountain showing off with its thick forests. The ancient land is treated patiently and meditatively by Gonzáles-Rubio’s camera, giving the sense that this place is eternal. It’s only the human life that’s fading away.

SFIFF: Steven Soderbergh Says Art Of Cinema Is Under Attack From The Studios, Decries Profit Driven Decision Making

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • April 29, 2013 11:03 AM
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  • 14 Comments
Steven Soderbergh, SFIFF
Saturday afternoon at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Steven Soderbergh presented an audience his take on the current state of cinema. The State of Cinema Address is an annual event held at the festival that allows a speaker (not always a filmmaker, last year the festival saw author Jonathan Levine give his take on the subject) to lay down their thoughts on contemporary film. This year the San Francisco Film Society, the organization that runs the festival, was able to land the prolific Steven Soderbergh at a particularly interesting time in his career: the beginning of a hiatus from directing.

SFIFF Review: Caveh Zahedi's 'The Sheik And I' Creates A Compelling, Subversive & Ethical Puzzle

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • May 2, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In “The Sheik and I” director Caveh Zahedi once again turns the camera on himself, this time as he chronicles his attempts to create and exhibit a film commissioned by the Sheik of Sharjah for the emirate’s art biennial. The film is stitched together with Zahedi’s after-the-fact recalling and contextualization of the events of the production, along with behind-the-scenes style footage, brief glimpses at the film within a film that Zahedi is supposedly originally creating, unpolished animated sequences, and even just white text on a black screen (for when the cameras run out of batteries, which appears is often due to Zahedi’s always-be-rolling approach).

SFIFF: Lawrence Kasdan Talks Making 'Darling Companion,' Reveals He's In The Midst Of Writing Harlan Coben's 'Stay Close'

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • April 30, 2012 3:04 PM
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Last week saw the release of “Darling Companion,” the first film from writer/director Lawrence Kasdan in nine years. The film tells the story of Beth (Diane Keaton) and her husband Joseph’s (Kevin Kline) dog getting lost in the mountains after their daughter’s wedding. The couple, their family, and friends spend the next week searching for the dog, a quest that puts all their relationships into question. We had a chance to talk to the director during the San Francisco International Film Festival where the film was playing.

SFIFF: tUnE-yArDs Live Score For Buster Keaton & Fatty Arbuckle Films Did Not Disappoint

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • April 27, 2012 4:04 PM
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One of the most anticipated annual events at the San Francisco International Film Festival is the live score performances held each year. While it would be hard to top last year’s Tindersticks live performance of their own Claire Denis scores, this year’s pairing of tUnE-yArDs (led by Merrill Garbus) and guitarist Ava Mendoza with a collection of Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle films did not disappoint.

SFIFF: Harmony Korine & Val Kilmer Talk Stepping Into 'The Fourth Dimension'

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • April 27, 2012 10:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Last Friday night, “The Fourth Dimension” made its world premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival, a collaborative film that we thought got satisfying results out of its premise. In attendance were the set of directors responsible for the three short films created based on a collection of random instructions generated by Vice Films producer Eddy Moretti in a collaboration with Grolsch Film Works. The directors tapped included Harmony Korine (“Trash Humpers,” “Gummo”), Aleksei Fedorchenko (“Silent Souls”) and Polish director Jan Kwiecinski making his big screen debut. We sat down to talk to Harmony Korine and Val Kilmer -- who stars in Korine’s film as a ridiculous motivational speaker -- about their short “Lotus Community Workshop.”

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