Saturday, April 8, 2017

Film Festival Line-Up Changes

This blog is in a sad state.  I'm too busy with work, other personal items and seeing films to maintain this blog.  I'll limp along for awhile and see if my life changes.


Among the news items:

Camera Cinemas is closing the Camera 7 Pruneyard (in Campbell) tomorrow.  I've only been there once so it's not as if I'll miss it.  However, coming on the heels of last summer's closing of the Camera 12, the Camera Cinemas are down to one theater (Camera 3).

This year's Cinequest was the first since the Camera 12 closed.  The main venue this year was the Cinemark Redwood Downtown 20 in Redwood City.  I believe they had five screens dedicated to Cinequest.  Essentially, Cinequest replaced the Camera 12 screens with screens at the Cinemark 20 in Redwood City.  In addition, they screened films at the old SJ Rep, the California Theater and Santana Row (new venue).  Maybe they screened at more venue but those were the only ones I went to.  Attendance at the Redwood City venue seemed significantly lower than Camera 12 in previous years.

Spreading the festival out between Downtown San Jose, Downtown Redwood City & Santana Row (about five miles from Downtown San Jose) detracted from the experience.  I hope attendance picks up for Cinequest next year.

I note that Cinequest did not screen any midnight movies this year.

Regarding the Camera 7, the space currently occupied by the Camera 7 will remain a movie theater.  "we [Camera Cinemas] are excited to be the first to welcome incoming Pruneyard Dine-In Cinemas.  With a planned opening in Fall 2017 after an extensive remodel, Pruneyard Dine-In Cinemas will be the South Bay's first luxury dine-in theater with chef driven kitchen, full bar, and food and drink service to VIP reclining chairs and love seats (with swivel tables) that can be reserved online. There will also be a new comfortable patio space and service."

The entire Pruneyard Shopping Center is undergoing a renovation and Camera Cinemas co-founder Jack Nyblom is part of the ownership group of the Pruneyard Dine-In Cinemas.


For the past few years (including this year), the first weekend of CAAMFest conflicted with the final weekend of Cinequest. After this year's CAAMFest (March 9-19), CAAM announced that starting in 2018, the festival will move to the month of May.  That will remove the conflict with Cinequest and allow me a breather.  January through March is a marathon of film festivals - Noir City to SF IndieFest to Mostly British to Cinequest to CAAMFest.

A new scheduling conflict may arise.  The California Film Institute (the organization behind the Mill Valley Film Festival & the Smith Rafael Film Center) have announced a new film festival called DocLands.   2017 is the inaugural year (May 10 to 14).  Tickets and presumably the full film lineup for DocLands go on sale on April 20.

Speaking of the Mostly British, I guess it has grown up.  I procrastinated in buying my festival pass this year.  When I attempted to buy it, I was informed that they had sold out of festival passes.


The San Francisco Film Society has changed its brand to SFFILM.  I guess that is different than changing it's name.  As the press release says "SFFILM is the new public-facing brand of the San Francisco Film Society."  Similarly, the San Francisco International Film Festival is now called SFFILM Festival.  A rose is a rose is a rose...

Of more substance is the change in festival dates and venues.  In past years, SFIFF was held in late April and the first week in May.  This year, SFFILM Festival runs from April 5 to 19.  In addition, SFFILM has expanded the number of venues for its festival.  In addition to previous venues such as the Castro, the Roxie, the Victoria, BAM/PFA & the Alamo Drafthouse, new venues such as the YBCA (the large live performance theater in addition to the screening room), SFMOMA and the Dolby Cinema have been added.

SFFILM is creating small clusters of venues for its festival.  SFMOMA and the YBCA are across the street from each other.  The Roxie & the Victoria are two blocks apart.  The Dolby Cinema is about halfway between the Roxie & SFMOMA.  The Alamo Drafthouse & the Castro are within walking distance of the Roxie and accessible via public transit.

The other change is that SFFILM is running from Wednesday (April 5) to Wednesday (April 19).  In past years, it ran for two weeks but Thursday to Thursday.  I'm not sure about the significance of the change.


I'm running about 10 films ahead of last year's pace.  In other words, I've seen more films YTD as of April 8, 2017 compared to April 8, 2016.  That should count for something.  At least it does with me.  I'm not so preoccupied with work or my father's estate which is a good thing in my opinion.  Now, if I could just find time to update this blog periodically.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016 By the Numbers

I saw 321 "films" on a theater screen in 2016. For these purposes, a film is not just a feature length film but also includes programs (typically from film festivals) which consist of multiple short films. If it was categorized as a single program in a festival guide, it counts as one film entry on my list. Conversely, I saw several programs which consisted of a short film and a feature length film. For my counting purposes, those are counted as a single film entry.

My annual film totals for the past few years are:

2010 - 385 films
2011 - 406 films
2012 - 436 films
2013 - 397 films
2014 - 388 films
2015 - 336 films
2016 - 321 films

For four consecutive years, I have seen fewer films than the previous year.


The top 10 venues in which I saw films in 2016 were:

1)  Roxie Theater (72 films) - 15 films from IndieFest, 12 films from DocFest and 10 films from various Elliot Lavine and Mid-Century Productions events.  I should acknowledge Elliot Lavine who is moving (to Portland?) and will no longer be programming films in the Bay Area.  The Roxie Theater was my #2 film-going destination from 2013 to 2015.

2) Castro Theatre (65 films) - 15 films from Noir City and 21 films from two Silent Film Festival events.  The Castro Theatre was my #1 film-going destination from 2013 to 2015.

3) Vogue & Balboa (25 films) - 13 films from the Mostly British Film Festival and 7 films from New Italian Cinema.  The Vogue & Balboa are operated by the same people.

4) Landmark Theaters (24 films) - 13 films at the Embarcadero (SFFS Hong Kong Cinema), 7 films at the Opera Plaza & 4 films at the Clay.  I did not see any films at the Aquarius or Guild on the Peninsula or any at the East Bay Landmark Theaters.

5) Camera Cinemas (20 films) - all from Cinequest and all at the now defunct Camera 12 which closed in September.  I did not see any films at the Camera 3 or Camera 7 Pruneyard.

5) Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (20 films) - buoyed by the SF International Film Festival's move from the Filmore to the Mission.

7) Viz/New People (14 films) - 9 films from the Japan Film Festival of SF and 3 films from Another Hole in the Head.

8) Crest Theater (11 films) - this Sacramento theater made the top 10 list due to three trips.  For the first time, I attended both weekends of the Sacramento French Film Festival in June and I attended the Sacramento Mini French Film Festival in November.  These two festivals accounted for all 11 films.

9) Great Star Theater (8 films) - CAAMFest and the Not Just Hong Kong Film Festival accounted for the 8 films.

10) Sequoia Theater (7 films) - I saw 7 films as part of the Mill Valley Film Festival at this theater.

Honorable Mentions:  PFA (6 films), California Theater in San Jose (6 films; all Cinequest), Victoria Theater (6 films; all SFIFF), Lark Theater (6 films; all MVFF), San Jose Rep (5 films; all Cinequest), New Parkway (5 films), 4 Star (4 films), YBCA (3 films), Smith Rafael (3 films; all MVFF) and Oddball Films (3 films)


On 191 days in 2016, I saw at least one film. The 2016 breakdown is:

On 175 days, I saw zero films.
On 101 days, I saw one film.
On 69 days, I saw two films.
On 9 days, I saw three films.
On 6 days, I saw four films.
On 5 days, I saw five films.
On 1 day, I saw six films.

On December 3 (Saturday), I watched six films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival Day of Silents at the Castro Theater.

On both March 6 (Sunday) and March 12 (Saturday), I saw five films at Cinequest.  On June 4 (Saturday) and June 5 (Sunday), I saw five films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.  On June 18 (Saturday), I saw five films at the Sacramento French Film Festival

Breaking down the number of films by month:

January - 25 films
February - 33 films
March - 45 films
April - 22 films
May - 30 films
June - 40 films
July - 32 films
August - 4 films
September - 14 films
October - 22 films
November - 31 films
December - 23 films

The 4 films I watched in August represents the lowest monthly film total since I started this blog.  August is the busiest month of the year at work for me.  I have been in my current job since September 2012 so 2016 was my 4th "busy" August.  Looking at the last four years, the busy period seems to straddle August & September in the past but was largely confined to August this year.  That's because I decided to travel for Labor Day Weekend whereas in years past, I used that weekend to work. 

I saw 8 films in September 2015 but that number was depressed because I was standing deathwatch at my father's bedside.  Those are the only two calendar months when I watched films totaling in the single digits since January 2010.

Breaking down the number of films by day of the week:

Sunday - 57 films
Monday - 34 films
Tuesday - 30 films
Wednesday - 45 films
Thursday - 33 films
Friday - 49 films
Saturday - 73 films


2016 was the first year I did not see any films at the Kabuki Theater (which is no longer associated with Sundance Theaters).  CAAMFest and the SF International Film Festival abandoned the Kabuki for theaters in the Mission District (Roxie, Alamo Drafthouse & Victoria).

I also did not see any films at the Camera 3 in 2016.