The San Francisco International Film Festival, the longest-running in North America, rolled out its programming lineup yesterday for the 56th edition of the two-week moviegoing marathon.
The festival will serve up 67 narrative features, 28 documentaries and 63 shorts from around the world, with large helpings of U.S. indie pictures and Asian and Latin American productions. Supplementing the screenings will be a “State of Cinema” address by director Steven Soderbergh, panel discussions, onstage Q&A sessions, awards and parties.
Opening night is April 25, featuring “What Maisie Knew,” a contemporary adaptation of the 1897 novel by Henry James, directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel (“Bee Season”). The drama stars Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan as the self-indulgent parents of a 6-year-old girl.
Narrative features include “Frances Ha,” a comedy about Brooklyn friends directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner; “Youth,” an autobiographical tale directed by Justine Malle, daughter of French film icon Louis Malle; and “Much Ado About Nothing,” a modern-dress production of the Shakespeare comedy, directed by Joss Whedon.
The only titles resembling mainstream Hollywood releases are retrospective screenings of William Friedkin’s 1985 “To Live and Die in L.A.” and Philip Kaufman’s 1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Friedkin (“The Exorcist”) will attend the festival to teach a master class called “Fifty Years of Filmmaking,” while Kaufman (“The Right Stuff”) will receive the lifetime-achievement award for directing.
Subjects of documentary features include the Google Books Project, rural Cambodians, tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, the Beatles’ secretary Freda Kelly, an Indian Muslim poet, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and his views on the U.S. income gap, folk musician Kate McGarrigle, post-earthquake Haiti and a Japanese business that rents out fake relatives.
The festival concludes May 9 with a screening of Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight,” the third in his series of romances that began with 1995’s “Before Sunrise.” The latest installment stars Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke as the impossibly chic couple who are now all grown up.
(Stephen West is an editor for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)