SILENCE GETS SOUND

A musician, compiler and composer explains how he scored a silent film for today’s audience.

by Rodney Sauer

The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra was commissioned to create two new scores for the 2017 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, one of which is the newly restored 1926 film Silence. It shows at the Castro Theatre on Sunday, June 4 at 12:00 Noon.

SILENCE - Glass slide (2400 dpi) [credit Robert Byrne].jpg

Glass Slide courtesy of Rob Byrne

One print of Silence is known to survive at the Cinémathèque Française. The Cinémathèque, Rob Byrne, and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival collaborated to have the surviving print scanned, digitally repaired and cleaned, translated from French back into the original English, then printed to film for exhibition and preservation.

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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. In 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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Magical moments at SFIFF 2016

by Pam Grady

2016_SFIFF posterThe Coen family has taken over the Bay Area in the first half of 2016. First, Frances McDormand, wife of Joel Coen, played to sold out houses with her turn as Lady Macbeth in Berkeley Rep’s production of Shakespeare’s Scottish play. Now, her husband and his brother Ethan are a star attraction alongside Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell of Janus/Criterion when the San Francisco International Film Festival awards its Mel Novikoff Award to Janus Films and The Criterion Collection on Saturday, April 30, at the Castro Theatre. The siblings’ first feature Blood Simple, the tense, bewitching neo-noir in which McDormand made her debut as barkeep Dan Hedaya’s cheating spouse, screens as well in what is sure to be a magical afternoon. Continue reading

Asian Cinema Comes to San Francisco

Some of the most exciting  cinema today is created by Asian and Asian American filmmakers. They represent an incredible array of cultures and each year CAAMFest is a perfect opportunity for the San Francisco Bay Area to explore new worlds through the moving image.

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) presents its annual celebration along with plenty of parties and special events to accompany the films at CAAMFest 2016 playing through March 20 in San Francisco and Oakland.

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Women flout social norms in Hollywood Before the Code

by Pam Grady

“Every train carries its cargo of sin,” says the Rev. Mr. Carmichael (Lawrence Grant) as the journey gets underway in Shanghai Express (1932), the fourth of seven collaborations between star Marlene Dietrich and director Josef von Sternberg. The cargo in this case is two ladies whose reputation precedes them — Chinese courtesan Hui Fei (Anna May Wong) and the notorious white “coaster” — a local euphemism for prostitute — known as Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich). They are but two of the fallen women to be found in Elliot Lavine and I WAKE UP DREAMING’s latest festival of classics, Hollywood Before the Code, screening at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre for six consecutive Wednesdays beginning Feb. 24. Continue reading