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Thompson on Hollywood

San Francisco Film Society Announces Significant Funding Increase to Extend Filmmaker360 Programs

The San Francisco Film Society has announced a significant increase in funding to its Filmmaker360 programs, thanks to the society's collaborative relationship with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. Filmmaker360 supports narrative feature filmmakers through cash grants, residencies and script workshops...
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • January 10, 2013 12:58 PM
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Brownlow Restoration of Abel Gance’s 'Napoleon' Triumphs at Oakland’s Paramount Theater

If at all possible, you should get yourself over to the Paramount Theater in Oakland next weekend (March 31 and April 1) for the final two performances of Kevin Brownlow’s 5½ hour restoration of Abel Gance’s 1927 "Napoleon," accompanied by Carl Davis conducting the Oakland East Bay Symphony in the performance of his score.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • March 26, 2012 7:02 PM
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  • 4 Comments

Bingham Ray Moves West to Run San Francisco Film Society

Bingham Ray Moves West to Run San Francisco Film Society
Bingham Ray is back on the festival acquisition beat. But this time, after decades in indie distribution and a recent stint consulting at SnagFilms and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Ray will be making a move to the Bay Area as executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, which runs year-round programs including the annual San Francisco International Film Festival. He will be filling the role left vacant by Graham Leggat, who served the SFSS for seven years; he died of cancer in late August.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 19, 2011 12:03 PM
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  • 1 Comment

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival: From Simone Weil to Kirk Douglas

San Francisco critic Meredith Brody reports from the city's Jewish Film Festival:The graphics for this year’s San Francisco Jewish Film Festival feature a number of inspiring calligraphed words, including faith, justice, courage, pleasure, passion, drama, family, transformation, and humor. The list is surprisingly light on Yiddish: I can only puzzle out haimish and nosh on the version that flashes on the big screen, and chutzpah and schtick when perusing the catalogue cover at my leisure.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • August 13, 2011 8:50 AM
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SFIFF 54: Wrapping Up the Fest, Days 13-15: The Arbor, Bromberg, Let The Wind Carry Me, Winners, Etc

Meredith Brody wraps up SFIFF 54 and the many films of days thirteen, fourteen and fifteen:After the San Francisco International Film Festival’s second weekend, I feel like the toboggan is slowing down before it crosses the finish line. Day Thirteen, for example: joining Creative Director Miguel Pendas’ SF Film Noir locations tour, which he puts on (along with a tour devoted exclusively to locations for Vertigo) for guests and press, is irresistible to me, but effectively knocks out most of the day. Miguel totes ten companions around SF’s hills and valleys in a van (with an indefatigable driver who manages to pull over where there’s no place to pull over). We see sites for The Maltese Falcon, Sudden Fear, The Sniper, The Lady from Shanghai,Dark Passage, The House on Telegraph Hill, The Midnight Story (the only one I’ve never seen), The Line-Up, and more.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • May 7, 2011 1:18 AM
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SFIFF 54: Day Twelve: Tilva Rosh, Hands Up, Ulysses and the Tindersticks do Claire Denis

On day 12 of the San Francisco International Film Festival, Meredith Brody reports back on her French triple bill (Hands Up is the stand out), Tilva Rosh, Ulysses, and finishes the day off right with English rock/jazz band Tindersticks playing excerpts from their film scores for Claire Denis movies.Amazingly, after getting stuck into CNN-land for two hours of repetitive Osama Bin Laden-chat last night, I still manage to watch the two DVDS of Festival movies that I brought home: I’m Glad My Mother is Alive, by the father-son duo of prolific Claude Miller and his son, neophyte Nathan Miller (giving nepotism a good name). Again something of a message picture (since I’d started the day with Roman Goupil’s Hands Up), about mayhem that ensues when an angry young adoptee finds his biological mother and insinuates himself into her new family (the title means one thing for the first two-thirds of the movie and then tips off its ending, alas).
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • May 5, 2011 8:48 AM
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SFIFF 54 Day Eleven: Film Fest Instructor's Guidebook, Hands Up, Something Ventured, Bin Laden

On day eleven of the San Francisco International Film Festival, Meredith Brody talks Hands Up (a "kind of a Bizarro-world Disney film"), Citizen Kane, Something Ventured and its billionaires, and The Salesmen (which she tries tricking herself into liking by thinking of Jeanne Dielman). At the end of her day, Osama bin Laden news trumps everything:Somewhere in the Film Festival Introducer’s Guidebook there must be a rule (more like a law!) that if it’s a nice day outside the introducer must thank the audience for ignoring the manifold pleasures awaiting them outside and instead huddling together in a dark auditorium.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • May 4, 2011 2:04 AM
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SFIFF 54 Day Ten: Dog Day Afternoon, Cinema Komunisto, James Woods, Making Friends with Books

On day ten of the San Francisco International Film Festival, Meredith Brody talks Dog Day Afternoon, sees and loves Cinema Komunisto, digresses on James Woods (among other things) and makes friends via Bossypants and Chekhov's short stories:I start the day by watching as much of the program honoring Frank Pierson with the Kanbar Award for screenwriting as I can before dashing off to see Love in a Puff. The clip that Pierson showed in his Master Class, the afternoon before, reminded me that (a) I know Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon -- the movie they’re going to show as part of the tribute -- very well indeed, (b) yes, the 70s were a golden age of movies, (c) Pacino’s performance (not to mention John Cazale’s – but then I just did) is more riveting than any I’ve seen in the past nine days.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • May 3, 2011 4:53 AM
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SFIFF 54 Day Nine: Terence Stamp, Toby Dammit, Foreign Parts, Black Bread, Frank Pierson

On day nine of the San Francisco International Film Festival, Meredith Brody starts small and winds up enthralled by the enduring allure of Terence Stamp. Odd and thrilling to watch a tiny movie, shot by a two-person crew, about nearly-invisible lives and occupations, on the biggest screen in the Kabuki: one of the treats of a festival. The movie is Foreign Parts, by Véréna Paravel and J.P. Sniadecki. For the first time in these chronicles, I’m tempted to quote directly from the SFIFF catalogue : “Anthropological in scope, sensuous in detail, and emotionally resonant throughout…,” with which I can only concur. The filmmaking pair, associates of the Harvard University Sensory Ethnography Lab, insinuated themselves into the daily life of a grubby enclave of car repair and salvage shops in the Willets Point neighborhood of Queens, New York. It’s the kind of grungy, noisy, uncomfortable place –located directly under a flight path, and with third-world-caliber streets with potholes that seem constantly full of water -- that non-residents visit only when necessary, and for as brief a time as possible. Gradually we get to meet a few of the neighborhood residents and workers, and learn that massive redevelopment plans (symbolized by the new Mets stadium looming over the auto repair shacks, close enough to touch and yet somehow untouchable) threaten the Point. It’s a visual dead end, both lower and upper case, in the sense of the play Dead End, in which the richest and the poorest denizens of a city co-exist in uneasy proximity.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • May 1, 2011 8:43 AM
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SFIFF 54 Day Eight: The Redemption of General Butt Naked, Sound of Noise, Pink Saris, Master Critic

San Francisco cinephile Meredith Brody continues to cut a swath through the SFIFF programme: Cheerful way to start the day: watching a famed “General” of the unbelievably brutal 14-year Liberian civil war, known as General Butt Naked for the attire (or lack thereof) of himself and his followers, metamorphize – or is it re-brand? – into Joshua Milton Biahyi, an evangelic preacher seeking forgiveness for his unspeakable crimes. I’m not much fonder of organized (or disorganized) religion than I am of war – noting in passing that many wars are fought on religious grounds. I’m repulsed by both of the General’s incarnations. What I think he’s mostly seeking is airtime, not redemption as in the movie’s title The Redemption of General Butt Naked. He’s playing to the cameras that I kind of wish were not following him around, despite the effectiveness and skill of the filmmakers. Even his mea culpa before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, which might recommend his later prosecution for war crimes, smacks of hunger for the spotlight –“I Was Responsible for 20,000 Deaths” – longer time on the 15-minute clock. Once a patholgical narcissist, always a pathological narcissist.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • April 30, 2011 5:49 AM
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