FILM FESTIVAL ADVENTURES OUTSIDE THE THEATER – Exploring the Silent Era Today

by Gary Meyer

Despite the silver screen temptations of a Film Festival one must get outside, take a walk, breathe the air and see some related sights. Bring your jacket because it is, after all, the unpredictable summer in San Francisco. Mark Twain may not have really said “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco” but it is apt.

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NEVER SILENT SAN FRANCISCO- The Festival

By Gary Meyer

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I have attended dozens of film festivals from the biggies like Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Venice, SXSW and Sundance to more intimate gatherings of movies and their makers from Telluride high in the Colorado Mountains, Morelia in Mexico’s Michoacán to Devour! In tiny Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Most screen new movies with occasional restorations while others focus exclusively on the classics. I like many of them though have burned out on the monster events. The San Francisco Bay Area hosts nearly one hundred film festivals a year including some of the best and most unique.

It is easy for me to claim that the San Francisco Silent Film Festival is my favorite. Some might say, “But they only show old movies.” It is true that most of the films were made before 1930 and the only sound is that of the live music and enthusiastic audience reactions.

If I have never seen the movie it is “new” to me.

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Bergman 100: The Early Years

by Frako Loden

On the 100th birthday of Sweden’s most famous film director Ingmar Bergman, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive is presenting three programs of films. One program, The Early Years, is screening five of his 1940s works in Theater 2 or the “salon,” the much smaller room downstairs that’s previously been used for film and video installations. This series is the first to use the smaller venue and will be an appropriately intimate space for these works.

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San Francisco International Film Festival Soars High

By Gary Meyer

My parents took me to the 1956 roadshow engagement of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS at San Francisco’s Coronet Theater. This eight-year-old kid was introduced to the wonders of George Méliès’ A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902) during the prelude introduced by trusted TV newsman Edward R. Murrow talking about Jules Verne in the movies.

It was the same year they Irving and Irma Levin (owners of the Coronet and other local cinemas) staged the Italian Film Week that would become the first film festival in the Americas in 1957, The San Francisco International Film Festival.

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