San Francisco International Film Festival Opens with a Bang

Move to Mission Neighborhood Energizes Attendees

by Meredith Brody

Whit Stillman, director of Love & Friendship, at the Castro Theatre (Photo by Pamela Gentile, courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society)

It’s notoriously hard for a festival to find an opening night film that will please its audience. The 59th edition of the venerable San Francisco International Film Festival — the oldest annual festival in the United States, founded in 1957 — did the seemingly impossible, debuting with Whit Stillman‘s Love and Friendship, at the beloved 1922-vintage Castro Theatre.

Kate Beckinsale meets her fans at Opening Night (Photo by Pamela Gentile, courtesy SFFS)

The saucy and exquisitely mounted adaptation of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan re-united Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny — the stars of Stillman’s 1998 The Last Days of Disco — 18 years later and two centuries earlier, but seemingly unaged in real (or reel) life.┬áIn 1998, they both had American accents; in 2016, Mrs. Alicia Johnson has been reconceived as an American, leaving Chloe Sevigny her flat vowels and enabling a too-little-seen Stephen Fry, as her husband, to constantly threaten her with exile in Connecticut.

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