Program Overview and Notes for March and April, 2006

In-person appearances, special series, and premieres:

24th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival-March 17-25. PFA offers eleven features from the SFIAAF, presented by the Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA), as well as a weekend sidebar to the festival, Heroic Grace: The Chinese Martial Arts Film, celebrating 1970s Hong Kong cinema. Japanese American screen star James Shigeta will appear in person at a screening of Walk Like a Dragon, a 1960 James Clavell Western; and directors Tanuj Chopra (Punching at the Sun) and Nicole Newnham (Sentenced Home) will also visit PFA with their films. Screenings at PFA include U.S. Premieres of Linda Linda Linda, an enjoyable tale of Japanese high school students who form an all-girl rock band, and Dreaming Lhasa, a drama about Tibetans living in exile in Dharamsala, India. The beautiful and touching Grain in Ear, a prizewinner at the Cannes, Pesaro and Pusan festivals, depicts the difficult life of an ethnic Korean woman in China. Acclaimed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien pays tribute to the great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu in his film Café Lumière, a tale of a troubled family, and Chinese director and actress Xu Jinglei re-imagines director Max Ophuls's Letter from an Unknown Woman. Thai director Wisit Sasanatieng presents his surreal vision of Bangkok in Citizen Dog, and The Burnt Theater is an eloquent blend of documentary and fiction set in the ruins of Phnom Penh's once-resplendent Suramarith National Theatre.

The 49th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA-Friday, April 21-Thursday, May 4. We're very pleased to again be the East Bay venue for SFIFF. The schedule for the PFA screenings will be announced on Wednesday, March 29 on our website (, with tickets available that day to BAM/PFA and S F Film Society members, and to the general public on April 4.

The Enchanting World of Jacques Demy-March 30, 31, April 1, 2. From his wondrous 1961 debut film, Lola, an epiphany of magical neorealism starring Anouk Aimée, to his best-known work, the sung-through romance The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, where the French New Wave meets the MGM musical in an Eastmancolor paradise of Pop art and popsicle colors, Jacques Demy risked all to show that love of film and love of life are one and the same. Lola's fate is updated in late-'60s Los Angeles in Model Shop; Catherine Deneuve and her sister Françoise Dorléac dance with the likes of Gene Kelly and George Chakiris in The Young Girls of Rochefort; and Jeanne Moreau is glorious as a compulsive gambler on the French Riviera in Bay of Angels. Presented with support from the Consulate General of France, San Francisco.

65 Seconds That Shook the Earth: Commemorating the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake-April 6, 7, 8, 9. As the Bay Area remembers the temblor that struck San Francisco at 5:13 a.m. on April 18, 1906, we offer the 1974 Earthquake, starring Charlton Heston, and presented with Super Sensurround Simulation by Meyer Sound; a lecture by historical geographer Gray Brechin, author of Imperial San Francisco, with newsreels and actualities from the Library of Congress showing San Francisco just after the quake; experimental films by George Kuchar, Semiconductor, and other artists; Flame of Barbary Coast (1945) starring John Wayne; and Dr. Peggy Hellweg of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory debunking the strained science of The Night the World Exploded (1957).

Readings on Cinema-Sunday, April 9. In celebration of the publication of American Movie Critics: An Anthology from the Silents Until Now (Library of America), we welcome acclaimed critic Phillip Lopate to PFA for a booksigning and an afternoon talk about films and film criticism. The program includes 0a screening of Mikio Naruse's Wife! Be Like a Rose!, a charming family comedy that was not part of our recent Naruse retrospective. Lopate championed Naruse in a perceptive and enjoyable essay "A Taste for Naruse," published in his 1998 book Totally, Tenderly, Tragically.

Video: Recent and Strange-Wednesdays, March 1, 8, 15, April 5, 12, 19. Five of these six programs present Bay Area premieres, and the other offers Native American artist Lewis DeSoto appearing with his namesake car for De Soto Conquest. In further lore from the realm of odd autos, Cinnamon is a punchy drama about an African American woman on the dragstrip circuit. Conceptual artists eteam return to parched Nevada for The Paradox of the 10 Acres Square; Jordan Biren and Jennifer Reeder offer disquieting visions of suburbia; and Laura Parnes appears with Blood and Guts in High School and Hollywood Inferno: Episode One.

Vantage Points: New Documentaries by Women-Tuesdays, March 7, 14, April 4, 11, 18, and Thursday, April 6; directors in person at all screenings. This series screens six unusual documentaries, including Jenni Olson's haunting The Joy of Life, a touching evocation of falling in love with a person or place and suicides falling from the Golden Gate Bridge. How Little We Know of Our Neighbors is a fascinating study of surveillance, as exemplified by the eccentric Mass Observation movement, which began filming the unsuspecting British populace in 1937. In This Short Life, by Britta Sjogren, is a tender and funny film balancing fact and fiction as it explores several interlinked characters in Portland and L.A. as they try to cope with quotidian challenges. Protestant evangelists, armed with recordings in rare languages, set out to convert inhabitants of some of the most isolated and impoverished spots on the globe in the fascinating film The Tailenders; and, in States of UnBelonging, Lynne Sachs memorializes an Israeli filmmaker who was killed while living on a kibbutz near the West Bank. R. D. Laing's radical 1960s challenges to standard modes of psychiatric treatment are reconsidered and re-created in Threads of Belonging, by Jennifer Montgomery.

A Theater Near You-Sunday, April 16. For Easter, we offer the classic 1973 Spanish film, The Spirit of the Beehive, directed by Victor Erice. A haunting tale of the world of childhood and the magic of cinema, it has been hailed in The New York Times as "The best Spanish film ever made. . . .There has probably never been more extraordinary view of a child on a movie screen."

The Wide-Angle Cinema of Michel Brault-March 9, 10, 11, 12, 26; director in person March 9-11.
Four feature-length and four short documentaries plus a documentary-style drama salute Quebecois director and cinematographer Michel Brault, a key figure in the history of cinema verité and direct cinema. Brault won numerous awards, including Best Direction at Cannes and the Canadian Film Award for Best Feature for his powerful 1974 drama Orders, which examines the chilling consequences of the War Measures Act, a temporary suspension of civil rights in all of Canada in 1970. Brault was one of the cinematographers on the captivating French documentary Chronicle of a Summer, made on the streets of Paris in 1960 by asking passers-by "Are you happy?" The series also presents two poetic documentaries by Brault's countryman and collaborator Pierre Perrault. Made possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Brave Outsiders: The Films of Kim Longinotto-April 13, 14, 15; director in person at all screenings. Seven direct, compassionate documentaries about often courageous women and girls, in situations ranging from divorce courts and a center for runaway girls in Iran, to more amusing views of a theater troupe and a self-help group that offer emotional respite to Japanese housewives. Made possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Women of Color Film Festival-March 2, 3, 4, 5. This vibrant festival, now in its eleventh year, salutes groundbreaking documentary filmmaker Christine Choy (Who Killed Vincent Chin?) who will appear at screenings of her works, including recent documentaries about sexual harassment at the U.S. Postal Service (Sealed But No Delivery) and the educational and career aspirations of girls in a rural Chinese village (Sparrow Village). Other programs examine Chilean women (including author Isabel Allende) confronting terrible pain after their loved ones were "disappeared," Chinese village matriarchs recognizing opportunities tourism could bring; and Spelman College students confronting misogyny in hip-hop. Christine Choy's residency is funded by a grant from the Consortium for the Arts at UC Berkeley.

Posted by admin on March 01, 2006