Friday, March 30, 2018


SFFILM Festival 2018

This is the second year in which the longest running film festival in America, the San Francisco International Film Festival, is operating under its new name SFFILM Festival. For 61 years, this beloved festival has been an iconic fixture in the city's film culture. It continues to thrive and attract the best talent around the world. It embraces, enriches, and celebrates the creativity and excellence in cinema art both in the Bay Area and around the globe.

From April 4-17, 2018, the festival will showcase 183 films, including 57 narrative features, 37 documentary features, and 83 shorts, in 46 languages representing 45 countries and regions.

The 61st San Francisco International Film Festival

This edition of the festival opens on Wednesday, April 4 with director Silas Howard's timely drama "A Kid Like Jake" (USA 2018 | 92 min.), about a family's dilemma on their young son Jack's school choice when Jack starts to express transgender tendencies.

A week into the festival, on Thursday, April 12, the festival's centerpiece presentation features Bay Area filmmaker Boots Riley's social critique comedy "Sorry to Bother You" (USA 2018 | 105 min.), about a telemarketer's story in a socially unjust environment.

Although the festival runs through April 17, its closing night presentation, writer-director Gus Van Sant's new film "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot" (USA 2018 | 113 min.) is scheduled for Sunday, April 15. It tells the extraordinary story of the quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix).

Opening Night: A Kid Like Jake Centerpiece: Sorry to Bother You Closing Night: Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot

Accompanied by the screening of director Jason Reitman's "Tully" (USA 2018 | 96 min.), the festival pays tribute to the Academy-award winner actress Charlize Theron who plays an exhausted mother welcoming a nanny home.

Renowned Asian-American writer-director Wayne Wong is the other tribute recipient at the festival with the screening of "Smoke" (USA 1995 | 112 min.), about happenings centering at a cigar shop in Brooklyn.

A Tribute to Charlize Theron A Tribute to Wayne Wang

Besides these Big Nights, the festival classifies its films into the following sections:

  • Marquee Presentations includes 14 narratives and 8 documentaries that have recently captured the headlines or populated the social media sphere of independent filmmaking.

    Chloé Zhao's award winning drama "The Rider" (USA 2017 | 104 min.) beautifully portrays a cowboy who continues to pursue his rodeo dream after a terrible accident, terrifically played by local residents.

    The documentary "RBJ" (USA 2018 | 97 min.) takes a look at the fascinating Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    Aneesh Chaganty's feature directorial debut "Searching" (USA 2018 | 101 min.) unfolds a father's search of his missing daughter entirely on a computer screen.

    The Rider RBJ Searching

  • Masters consists of 7 narratives from a few influential filmmakers around the world.

    Unlike his usual feel-good and life-affirming family drama, the renowned Japanese auteur Hirokazu Koreeda (是枝 裕和) tells a much darker tale in his latest gripping crime drama "The Third Murder" (三度目の殺人 | Japan 2017 | in Japanese | 125 min.). It shakes the moral authority of justice while unfolding its twisted plot.

    Like it or not, the prolific festival darling writer-director Hong Sang-soo (홍상수) comes back with yet another talking soap "Claire's Camera" (클레어의 카메라 | France/South Korea 2018 | in Korean/English | 69 min.). This time it's set in Cannes where his characters constantly run into each other on the streets and then they sit down to talk about art, career, or nothing significant.

    The Hong Kong director John Woo (吳宇森) also returns to the festival with his latest action thriller "Manhunt" (追捕 | Hong Kong/China 2017 | in Mandarin/English/Japanese | 111 min.). It's a remake of the Japanese movie "Manhunt" (君よ憤怒の河を渉れ | Japan 1976) that made Ken Takakura (高倉 健) a household name in China decades ago.

    The Third Murder Claire's Camera Manhunt

  • Global Visions assembles 14 narratives and 14 documentaries that give us a taste of the most contemporary world cinema.

    In light of the recent revelation about data harvesting from Facebook, it can't be more timely for directors Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck's insightful documentary "The Cleaners" (Germany/Brazil/Netherlands/Italy/USA 2018 | in English/Tagalog 88 min.), which investigates how the social media companies hire workers in the Philippines as the content police. It is mind boggling to witness the devastating global impact these social media platforms fail to foresee.

    Iranian director Vahid Jalilvand's (وحید جلیلوند ‎‎) sophomore feature "No Date, No Signature" (بدون تاریخ بدون امضا | Iran 2017 | in Persian | 104 min.) constructs a captivating drama centered on a doctor's moral consciousness.

    Chinese writer-director Vivian Qu (文晏) comes back to this year's festival with her arresting and poignant drama "Angels Wear White" (嘉年华 | China/France 2017 | in Mandarin | 107 min.) about an undocumented motel employee who witnesses the government corruption and abuse of school girls. Her confident work earned her the Golden Horse Award for best director.

    The Cleaners No Date, No Signature Angels Wear White

  • Golden Gate Award (GGA) Competition nominates 10 narratives and 10 documentary features, as well as a handful of short films in six shorts programs for the generous cash prizes totaling nearly $40,000. Many emerging filmmakers around the world tell compelling stories in this category.

    Arun Bhattarai and Dorottya Zurbó's documentary "The Next Guardian" (ཤུལ་ལས་བདག་འཛིན་འབད་མི། | Hungary/Netherlands 2017 | in Dzongkha | 74 min.) intimately observes the generational conflicts in the digital age in Bhutan. While the father hopes that his son will carry on the family tradition as the care-taker of a family monastery, the teenaged boy is more interested in connecting to the Internet, playing soccer with his tomboy sister, and checking out girls.

    The Russian director Elizaveta Stishova's (Елизавета Стишова) impressive feature directorial debut "Suleiman Mountain" (Сулейман гора | Kyrgyzstan/Russia 2017 | in Kyrgyz | 103 min.) unfolds a captivating story in the titular UNESCO World Heritage Site about a boy who is taken out of the orphanage abruptly as the long-lost child of a couple of con-artists.

    Danish director Simon Lereng Wilmont's poignant documentary "The Distant Barking of Dogs" (Denmark/Sweden/Finland 2017 | in Ukrainian | 90 min.) depicts life near the front line of the Russia-Ukraine conflicts. Through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy Oleg who lives with his grandmother and his cousin, the film reveals the dire reality and the devastating trauma caused by the war.

    The Next Guardian Suleiman Mountain The Distant Barking of Dogs

  • Dark Wave has 4 films that continue to feed the appetite of midnight horror and sick pleasure seekers.
  • Vanguard shows 4 experimental films and one shorts program that break the norm in watching a film and challenge your brain either in connecting the dots in the filmmakers' storytelling, or in finding those dots in some cases.

Throughout the festival, besides film screenings, there are also awards presentations, live & on stage performances, as well as three Master Classes.

The SFFILM Festival takes place April 4 - April 17, 2018 in San Francisco (at the Castro Theater in the Castro; the Dolby Cinema, SFMOMA's Phyllis Wattis Theater, the YBCA Screening Room, and the Theater at Children's Creativity Museum around the downtown area; the Roxie Theater, and the Victoria Theatre in the Mission neighborhood), Berkeley (at Pacific Film Archive), Oakland (at Grand Lake Theater), and other locations around the Bay Area.

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