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The next International takes place April 25–May 9, 2013.


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What's up at the SFIFF , May 3rd

 Here's what's going on at the San francisco International Film festival today, May 3rd.  The "scoop do jour"- Visit http://fest08.sffs.org/news/ for links and more.

Video Scoop
The latest video edition of Scoop du Jour features scenes from Film Society Awards Night with honorees and guests in attendance, plus an interview with filmmaker Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg) about his foray into “docu-fantasia.”

Who’s in Town?
Arriving today are directors Peter Galison (Secrecy), Lance Hammer (Ballast), Yousry Nasrallah (The Aquarium), Alex Rivera (Sleep Dealer) and Renee Tajima-Peña (Calavera Highway); actor Ludivine Sagnier (A Girl Cut in Two); producer and screenwriter Lolis Eric Elie (Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans); and subject Armando Peña (Calavera Highway).

A Homecoming
Tuesday night’s presentation of the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award to Errol Morris in Theater One of the Kabuki was a return of sorts for the documentarian. “Twenty years ago, The Thin Blue Line played in this very theater and it was the start of my career as an employed filmmaker,” Morris recalled. Upon receiving his award, Morris expressed his gratitude to “UC Berkeley for throwing me out of the philosophy department. Thanks to their kindness and largesse, I am here today.” It was his work as a PhD candidate in philosophy that spurred him on his current career path. “I was a troubled grad student. I wanted to write my dissertation on insanity because I was going insane.” He began interviewing mass murderers. It was the mid-1970s, “the heyday of mass murders.” He found them endlessly fascinating and has been fueled by a curiosity to probe the minds of interesting people to this day. “If anybody knows of a 12-step program for withdrawing from interviews, I would love to hear about it,” Morris joked. While the filmmaker does interview his subjects for marathon stretches at a time, his questions remain empathetic. “People ask me, why don’t I make people confess? I say, “Because I’m not a Catholic priest. I’m a nice Jewish boy from Long Island.’” –JP

Woven Tales
If director Sherad Anthony Sanchez’s film professor hadn’t rejected his script for Huling Balyan ng Buhi (or The Woven Stories of the Other), the film would never have been made. Her rejection strengthened his resolve to make this elliptical tale of politics, culture and shamanism set amid the lush landscape of the Mindanao region of the Philippines. Giving some sociopolitical context to the region, Sanchez told Thursday’s audience at the Kabuki that there was a tendency to blame the problems of Mindanao on Muslim insurgencies but in reality the problems are caused by the war between the military and the communists at the expense of the local people and their culture. At 24, Sanchez is one of the youngest directors in the Philippines. He admitted being under a lot of pressure while making the film. He responded to his critics by saying, “This film is not for you or for the people in Manila. This is a story for my people; about how they receive the stories from the shamans.” Casting nonprofessionals by picking them up on the street, or in this case the woods, Sanchez relied on his instincts to guide him. And it hasn’t failed him so far. He fondly recalled the biggest compliment he got from the Mindanao people. As he was saying his goodbyes, he thanked the shaman. She turned to him and said, “We trusted you because we knew that you were a shaman too.” Huling Balyan ng Buhi screens today at the Kabuki at 4:00. –SS

Home Movie
First things first: Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg is entirely, if outrageously, accurate. As several Winnipeggers in Thursday’s Festival audience eagerly substantiated, the city is indeed teeming with somnambulists, frozen horses, extravagant séances, hermaphrodite streets (i.e., half-named, half-unnamed) and Nazis-for-a-day. Maddin employed simple math in defending the integrity of his first-ever documentary, calling it “one-third legend, one-third opinion, and one-third cold hard fact.” By way of appeasement, he offered up the term “docu-fantasia” to describe a process he called, “licking the bottom of my memory with my camera.” Maddin admitted the idea of shooting a typical documentary was horrifying. He abhorred the impossible objective of objectivity, the tedious research required and the recommended 100-to-one shooting ratio. Instead, he chose to tackle the uniquely Canadian (and specifically Winnipegger) trait of “lousy self-mythologizing,” which amounts to keeping extraordinary events and people “life-size,” and thus historically forgettable. The full-scale Nazi invasion of Winnipeg, staged to spur (successfully) the sale of war bonds during World War II is shrugged off as quotidian and ho-hum. Maddin would rather recall “If Day,” among scores of other discarded anecdotes from Winnipeg’s short existence. Perhaps seeking to take one step further this Canadian tendency to reduce myth to life, Maddin flips the equation, canonizing minor league hockey players, the world’s smallest park and, most of all, his mother and boyhood home. My Winnepeg screens tonight at 8:30 at PFA. –IT

Today’s Best Bets
At the Kabuki today, Saturday May 3, you can still buy tickets for the documentary Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, screening at 1:00, followed by a Q&A with director Dawn Logsdon and producer/screenwriter Lolis Eric Elie; Philippe Aractingi’s drama shot during the recent Israel/Lebanon war, Under the Bombs, at 3:45; Mark Kidel’s fascinating profile, A Journey with Peter Sellars, at 9:15, followed by a Q&A with Kidel. At the Clay, watch Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah’s The Aquarium at 3:30, followed by a Q&A with Nasrallah; Constantina Voulgaris’s drama set in Athens’ goth subculture, Valse Sentimentale, at 6:30; and Rodrigo Plá’s drama set in a Mexico City gated community, La Zona, at 9:30. And you can still catch Kanbar Award recipient Robert Towne in conversation with Eddie Muller at the Kabuki at 4:00, followed by a screening of Shampoo.

Contributors to today’s Scoop include Jennifer Preissel, Sadaf Siddique and Ilya Tovbis.

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About San Francisco Film Society

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The longest-running film festival in the Americas, the San Francisco International Film Festival has built an international reputation for bringing the world’s finest films and filmmakers together with passionate and enthusiastic Bay Area audiences.


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