Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 San Francisco International Film Festival (1 of 2)

The 2013 San Francisco International Film Festival ran from April 25 to May 9.  I saw 26 films although I bought tickets to 27.  I inadvertently bought tickets to two different screenings of Chimeras.

This year's festival was marred by some technical difficulties.  Two screenings were delayed by 20 to 30 minutes.  The April 26 screening of Rosie at the Kabuki was delayed 20 to 30 minutes while they sorted things out.  The April 28 screening of Populaire (also at the Kabuki) was also delayed 20 to 30 minutes due to aspect ratio problems.  The subtitles were being cropped.  They started the film three times before the subtitles were fully visible.  Fortunately, both screenings were during the last time slot of the day.  If they had been earlier, it may have caused audience members to leave early or be late for the next screening.

The April 27 screening of The Mattei Affair at the PFA was the most frustrating film experiences I can recollect.  Prior to the screening, Susan Oxtoby mentioned a new DCP projector had been installed at the PFA a few days earlier and that The Mattei Affair was the first film to be projected on it.  I was tremendously enjoying The Mattei Affair when the subtitles froze about 30 minutes in.  The film continued in Italian but the subtitles were frozen.  This continued for 10 minutes; perhaps longer.  It felt like an eternity.  The projectionist could never rewind the film to point where the subtitles crapped out.  Seemingly giving up on the task, s/he continued the film (with the subtitles working properly) but the 10 or so minutes were lost to the non-Italian speaking members of the audience.

After restarting the film, I began to enjoy it once more.  With about 20 to 30 minutes left, the subtitles froze again (or maybe they stopped appearing).  Once again, people complained but slowly, in ones and twos, the audience left the theater.  I lasted another 10 minutes hoping the subtitles would work but eventually gave up and left.  I was very frustrated because from what I saw, The Mattei Affair was a great film.  The two extended periods of indecipherable Italian left me lost on some of the plot points and I felt I was doing myself a disservice if I watched the film any longer.  However, my greatest frustration is that the festival had a 35 mm print of the film and the PFA didn't use it.  I hope The Mattei Affair screens somewhere in the Bay Area again.

Finally, the Korean film Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time had two watermarks during the May 2 screening at the Kabuki.  Festival Director of Programming Rachel Rosen announced beforehand that the key to the digital lock on the film had not worked so they were screening a standard definition "print" with watermarks on the upper left and lower right corners.  She offered refunds or ticket exchanges.  Interestingly, no one seemed to take her up on the offer; everyone appeared to remain for the entire screening.  Fortunately, the film was very traditional in its visual composition.  Most of the action took place in the center of the frame so the watermarks were not intrusive but I won't say I was able to ignore them completely.  The presence of the watermarks definitely detracted from the viewing experience.


The 26 films I saw were:

The Kings of Summer starring Nick Robinson & Gabriel Basso; with Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally & Moises Arias; directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts; (2013) - Official Website
Rosie starring Fabian Krüger & Sibylle Brunner; directed by Marcel Gisler; German with subtitles; (2013)
Penance starring Yu Aoi, Eiko Koike, Sakura Ando, Chizuru Ikewai & Kyôko Koizumi; with Teruyuki Kagawa; directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa; Japanese with subtitles; (2012) - Official Website
The Mattei Affair starring Gian Maria Volonté; directed by Franco Rossi; Italian with subtitles; (1972)
The Daughter starring Maria Smolnikova & Igor Mazepa; directed by Alexander Kasatkin & Natalia Nazarova; Russian with subtitles; (2012)
Big Blue Lake starring Leila Tong; directed by Jessey Tsang Tsui-Shan; Cantonese with subtitles; (2011)
Populaire starring Romain Duris & Déborah François; with Bérénice Bejo; directed by Régis Roinsard; French with subtitles;  (2012) - Official Website
Thérèse starring Audrey Tautou & Gilles Lellouche; directed by Claude Miller; French with subtitles; (2012)
Outrage Beyond starring & directed by Takeshi Kitano; Japanese with subtitles; (2012) - Official Website
Big Sur starring Jean-Marc Barr & Kate Bosworth; directed by Michael Polish; (2013)
Pearblossom Hwy starring Atsuko Okatsuka & Cory Zacharia; directed by Mike Ott; some Japanese with subtitles; (2013) - Official Facebook
Key of Life starring Masato Sakai, Teruyuki Kagawa & Ryôko Hirosue; directed by Kenji Uchida; Japanese with subtitles; (2013) - Official Facebook
You're Next starring Sharni Vinson; with Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz & Ti West; directed by Adam Wingard; (2011) - Official Website
Cold War starring Aaron Kwok & Tony Leung Ka-fai; directed by Sunny Luk & Longman Leung; Cantonese with subtitles; (2012) - Official Website
Fill The Void starring Hadas Yaron & Yiftach Klein; directed by Rama Burshtein; Hebrew with subtitles; (2012) - Official Website
Our Homeland starring Arata Iura & Sakura Ando; directed by Yang Yong-hi; Japanese & Korean with subtitles; (2012) - Official Website
Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time starring Choi Min-sik & Ha Jung-woo; directed by Yoon Jong-bin; Korean with subtitles; (2012)
Juvenile Offender starring Lee Jung-hyun & Seo Young-ju; directed by Kang Yi-kwan; Korean with subtitles; (2012)
Afternoon Delight starring Kathryn Hahn & Juno Temple; directed by Jill Soloway; (2013) - Official Website
Eight Deadly Shots starring Mikko Niskanen & Tarja-Tuulikki Tarsala; directed by Mikko Niskanen; Finnish with subtitles; (1972)
Dom: A Russian Family starring Sergey Garmash; directed by Oleg Pogodin; Russian with subtitles; (2011)
The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay starring Ricky Jay; directed by Molly Bernstein; documentary; (2012) - Official Website
Memories Look at Me starring & directed by Song Fang; Mandarin with subtitles; (2012)
Chimeras starring Wang Guangyi & Liu Gang; directed by Mika Mattila; documentary; Mandarin with subtitles; (2013) - Official Website
Il Futuro starring Manuela Martelli; with Rutger Hauer; directed by Alicia Scherson; Italian & Spanish with subtitles; (2013)
Byzantium starring Saoirse Ronan & Gemma Arterton; directed by Neil Jordan; (2012) - Official Facebook

I believe the print of Thérèse which was screened was titled Thérèse Desqueyroux which is the original French release title of the film.

There was a gangster themed trio of films which programmer Rod Armstrong mentioned before several of the films.  The three films were Outrage Beyond, Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time and Dom: A Russian Family.


My enjoyment of this year's films was consistently high.  Most years, there are several films which are not to my liking which I admit is more of a matter of taste than an indictment of the films.  However, this year all the films kept my rapt interest which is amazing in itself.