Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY celebrated its 50th anniversary in style this year with two totally different restorations. Warner Brothers released new 70mm prints overseen by DUNKIRK and INTERSTELLAR director Christopher Nolan. Kubrick assistant Leon Vitali (himself the subject of a recent documentary) supervised a new, 4K digital restoration. The Castro Theatre in San Francisco offers the 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 70MM/4K Challenge December 28-January 1 where you can see both versions.
My own lifelong engagement with 2001 started in the spring of 1968 at the age of six. My mom, a confirmed Clarke fan, took me to an afternoon matinee within weeks of the film’s premiere. Whether it was in Washington (where we then lived) or New York (as I remember it) is unclear. While I was already excited by the jump into space as then best represented by the Apollo program—which had already launched two of its towering Saturn V Moon rockets on unmanned test flights—it was no preparation for my first exposure to such a powerfully ambiguous, visually stunning work.
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.
by Lincoln Spector and (augmented and updated by) Gary Meyer
I love the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, but it can wear a body down. Especially this year, with 21 programs and a party over the course of four days and five nights. For three of those days, the first screening starts at 10:00 a.m., and the last one starts at 9:30 p.m. The human body isn’t built for that much fun sitting down. Continue reading →