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San Francisco International Film Festival Opens April 21st

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San Francisco International Film Festival

Closing Night of San Francisco International Film Festival at the Castro Theatre. (Tommy Lau/San Francisco Film Society)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The 54th annual San Francisco International Film Festival opens on April 21st and offers two weeks of escape into films that offer a little bit of everything including action, off-beat comedy, unsettling drama, thoughtful commentary, and eye-opening animation.

With nearly 200 films and 48 countries represented, the program can seem somewhat daunting but Director of Programming Rachel Rosen encourages film lovers to take a chance on something different.

This may be your only opportunity to see some of these films in the theater, Rosen adds.

CBS’ Connie C. Kim Interviews Director of Programming Rachel Rosen:

“The aim of the festival has really been the same since it started in 1957 which is to bring the best possible selection of world cinema to the audiences of San Francisco,” Rosen explains. “We do try to mix it up every year and have a few different themes and highlights… but the basic purpose is still the same – which is to provide great movies to the great San Francisco audience.”

About two dozen films were produced in or are about the Bay Area and cover interesting topics like the beginnings of venture capitalism in Something Ventured.

Another film that takes place in Ireland is called The Pipe and is about a grassroots campaign to halt the construction of a high-pressure gas pipeline. This may resonate with the Bay Area audience in light of the tragic San Bruno explosion last fall.

The Pipe is more about individual action and highlights one fisherman who keeps taking his boat out to get in the way of this big tanker. Rosen says it’s incredible watching his bravery and seeing what one person can do.

“That’s what’s so great about world cinema,” Rosen comments. “A lot of these films take place in far countries and bring a flavor of their own unique setting, but they’re really about humans and so they translate in one way or another, whether emotionally or politically, to our everyday lives.”

Documentaries are a great mix, Rosen continues, and some really seize a moment and bring it to life. The Green Wave is a film that uses social media during political demonstrations in Tehran and solely uses cell phone and personal camcorder footage along with animation to tell a first person narrative.

Others are about smaller worlds like The Good Life about two Danish women who were once wealthy but are now living in poverty in Portugal. Rosen calls these films “beautifully-crafted miniatures.”

The San Francisco International Film Festival is not just about films but the live interactive experience with filmmakers and the audience.

“The festival experience is about the community experience of coming to the festival. We offer Q&As with directors when we can, but we also have special events with live elements… these experiences will never be repeated again. Some events include an evening inspired by the music of Leonard Cohen that involves live music, animated films and a documentary; a state of the cinema address by Christine Vachon who produced Mildred Pierce and many other great films; and a tribute to Frank Pierson who wrote Cool Hand Luke and Dog Day Afternoon.

Opening Night is Thursday, April 21st, and begins with a screening of Beginners starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer as father and son looking for love. In this film by Mike Mills, Plummer comes out of the closet at age 75 and embraces his new love life while dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

San Francisco International Film Festival
April 21 – May 5, 2011
For screening details and tickets go to:
http://fest11.sffs.org/
San Francisco Film Society

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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