SECRET HORRORS OF THE CASTRO THEATRE: A True Story

by Julie Lindow

One would never expect such real-life horror to happen at the gorgeous, historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco. That fateful night, I was slinging candy and popcorn. The air was thick with that hot buttery scent as I salted the last bag of popcorn and patrons scurried into the theater. The manager clunked the heavy double doors closed. The calm after the storm. It was also the calm before the storm of Hallows’ Eve that was a few nights off.

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OY, HAVE I GOT A FILM FOR YOU A Preview of the 39th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, 2019

By Gary Meyer

One of the challenges for any film festival is finding the perfect opening night movie.

A curator wants a terrific movie first but also it must be a crowd pleaser— Not too experimental or heavily political. You don’t want to alienate the opening night audience who may not be as adventurous as those attending many other movies during the event. They need to leave the theater in a good mood and hopefully want to return for more shows. But you want it to be a movie that also means something to people and leaves them thinking as well as entertained.

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Opening Night photo by Pat Mazzera

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A PICTURE IS WORTH A MILLION WORDS

by Gary Meyer

Of the many film festivals I enjoy each year, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival is certainly one of my favorites. I love the fact that the Festival Directors, Anita Monga and Stacey Wisnia, curate my experience. There is only one film playing at a time and all are at the mighty Castro Theatre accompanied by wonderful live music.

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Welcome

You come in the morning for a 10am show and stay until after the sun goes down…most likely around 11pm. A community develops where you run into friends you haven’t seen in years and make lots of new friends waiting in line (to get in, to buy food or use the rest rooms) or while sitting in the theater before the show starts. As the festival progresses through its five days you realize that this is the closest thing to a movie summer camp.

Bring family and friends, especially those who have never seen a silent film on the big screen with live music and a lively audience. They will become converts.

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Watch ARENA’s “Night and Day”

(updated April 21, 2019)
The San Francisco Film Festival gave the Mel Novikoff Award  to the great BBC series ARENA and its producer Anthony Wall. 
The award is named after the much loved San Francisco art cinema owner whose Surf Theatre was legendary. Novikoff saw the potential of taking the run down and all-but-forgotten Castro Theatre and making it a true destination for movie lovers. The Award is given “to an individual or institution whose work has enhanced the film-going public’s appreciation of world cinema.” Image result for arena bbc video logo

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SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN FOREVER

by Gary Meyer
ON THE TOWN, ROYAL WEDDING, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER, FUNNY FACE, THE PAJAMA GAME, INDISCREET, DAMN YANKEES, CHARADE, ARABESQUE, TWO FOR THE ROAD and BEDAZZLED.

All winners in our book.  Hollywood’s elite agree.  And yet the man who directed them all, Stanley Donen never was even nominated for an Oscar.
On the eve of the 2019 Academy Awards we are saddened to learn of his passing but happy that he lived a full 94 years and gave movie audiences many hours of pleasure.  It will be interesting to see how they work Stanley into the Oscar “In Memory” reel.
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