51st San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

4/25/08 to 5/8/08

After more than half a century, the festival is still the premier annual film event in the Bay Area.

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Past Films

  • Calavera Highway

    • Thursday, May 8 6:30 pm

    Renee Tajima-Peña in Person. Seven Mexican American brothers confront a past haunted by their mother's estrangement from her family, and the specter of a long-missing father. As they delve into their pasts, they find unexpected answers to questions about their family and themselves.

  • Up the Yangtze

    • Thursday, May 8 8:55 pm

    Yung Chang in Person. This lyrical, haunting documentary looks at the massive changes wrought by China's Three Gorges Dam through the eyes of two teenagers working on a cruise ship that caters to European and North American tourists.

  • Recycle

    • Wednesday, May 7 6:30 pm

    Mahmoud al Massad in Person. In this vivid documentary, filmmaker Mahmoud al Massad digs into the politics, piety, and poverty of his native city in Jordan through the life of husband, father, and former mujahadeen-turned–cardboard collector Abu Ammar.

  • Wonderful Town

    • Wednesday, May 7 8:45 pm

    Writer/director Aditya Assarat's melancholy Thai “ghost story,” about an architect who falls in love with a hotel maid, substitutes dreamlike scenes of the tsunami-ravaged seacoast for shock cuts. No monsters here, just ordinary people haunted by the disaster, years later.

  • The Judge and the General

    • Tuesday, May 6 6:30 pm

    Judge Juan Guzmán, Elizabeth Farnsworth, and Patricio Lanfranco in Person. In a documentary as riveting as a police drama, Chilean judge Juan Guzmán investigates criminal charges against former dictator Augusto Pinochet, uncovering the horrifying truth about the atrocities committed by the Pinochet regime.

  • Still Life

    • Tuesday, May 6 8:45 pm

    China's most important contemporary filmmaker captures the lives of people caught between China's past and its uncertain future, in a film set in a village soon to be destroyed by the immense Three Gorges Dam project.

  • Secrecy

    • Monday, May 5 8:55 pm

    Peter Galison and Robb Moss in Person. The seduction and power of secrets are at the core of this fascinating and timely documentary exploring why the U.S. government spends more time and money than ever before to keep information away from the American public.

  • Cochochi

    • Monday, May 5 6:30 pm

    Two preteen Tarahumara Indian brothers tasked with delivering medicine across remote northwestern Mexico impetuously “borrow” their grandfather's horse. They lose the precious steed, then each other in this slyly intricate, locally cast debut film.

  • Profit motive and the whispering wind

    • Sunday, May 4 2:00 pm

    Inspired by Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, filmmaker John Gianvito creates a lean, lyrical cinematic poem chronicling the history of American freethinkers and radicals through the potent images of the gravestones left behind. With short Pool.

  • Alexandra

    • Sunday, May 4 4:15 pm

    Singular auteur Alexander Sokurov (Mother and Son, SFIFF 1997) stuns the senses while depicting humanity at its fiercest and finest with this beautiful meditation on the ties that bind, personified by the unforgettable titular grandmother journeying through wartorn Chechnya.

  • A Stray Girlfriend

    • Sunday, May 4 6:15 pm

    In this subtle, amusing breakup movie, which played in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, thirty-something Inés (Ana Katz) finds herself solo on the holiday she planned with her ex, confronting the necessary adjustments it entails for a suddenly solitary woman.

  • Medicine for Melancholy

    • Sunday, May 4 8:15 pm

    A one-night stand evolves into something deeper and politically complex for a young African American couple when they decide to spend the next day together-a life-changing experience that leads to greater intimacy and altered perspectives.

  • Dust

    • Saturday, May 3 1:00 pm

    This fascinated and fascinating documentary exposes the cyclical and relentless nature of dust in interviews with everyone from scientists uncovering its role in the origins of the universe to artists reveling in the discrete beauty of dust bunnies.

  • Flower in the Pocket

    • Saturday, May 3 3:00 pm

    This quirky, sensitive portrait of two young brothers and their world is among the best Malaysian indies of 2007. Although the film is about sons, it's the father (played by leading filmmaker James Lee) who faces the fear of growing up.

  • The Secret of the Grain

    • Saturday, May 3 5:00 pm

    Fish couscous has never looked so good, nor the émigré experience so real, as in Tunisian-French director Abdellatif Kechiche's multi-prizewinning saga of an extended family living in a French seaport.

  • My Winnipeg

    • Saturday, May 3 8:30 pm

    Guy Maddin in Person. In his first foray into documentary, Winnipeg master of the experimental melodrama Guy Maddin melds autobiography and mythology, blurring the line between fact and fiction. Seeking escape from his hometown, Maddin confronts his mother as the city's history unfolds.

  • The Man from London

    • Friday, May 2 8:50 pm

    Hungarian master of metaphysical melancholy Béla Tarr (Sátántangó, Werckmeister Harmonies) ventures deep into the shadows of film noir in this stately, stunningly photographed adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel, featuring an intense performance by Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton.

  • Ballast

    • Friday, May 2 6:30 pm

    In the majestic landscape of the Mississippi Delta, a story unfolds about the repercussions of a suicide within a poor family in a small town.

  • Ezra

    • Thursday, May 1 6:30 pm

    This intense drama about the life of a child soldier in Sierra Leone's civil war takes us from his abduction to his eventual rescue and rehabilitation. Winner of the Grand Prize at Fespaco, Africa's leading film festival.

  • A Girl Cut in Two

    • Thursday, May 1 8:45 pm

    Genre master Claude Chabrol does it again with this social satire/psychological thriller, inspired by the murder of Gilded Age architect and womanizer Stanford White, about a woman caught between a jaded author and the psychopathic heir to a family fortune.

  • Vasermil

    • Wednesday, April 30 6:30 pm

    Three soccer-playing, not-so-neighborly teens-a racist pizza boy, an Ethiopian Israeli, and a sullen Russian émigré-face a critical match and a no-future world in this vibrant Israeli Mean Streets, the Jerusalem Film Festival's Special Jury Prize winner.

  • Mock Up on Mu

    • Wednesday, April 30 8:55 pm

    Craig Baldwin in Person. Notorious Bay Area kino-renegade and culture jammer Craig Baldwin tops his earlier found-footage operas Spectres of the Spectrum and Sonic Outlaws with this rapid-fire pulp serial–cum–political tract on postwar California's biggest hits: the military, Disney, and Scientology.

  • The Romance of Astrea and Celadon

    • Tuesday, April 29 6:30 pm

    Andy Gillet in Person. A dashing shepherd and a beautiful maiden find romance fraught with misunderstanding and doomed by fate in the great director Eric Rohmer's possibly final film, a whimsical and more than fitting farewell to a lifetime of star-crossed, verbose, ever-so-lovely lovers.

  • In a Lonely Place: New Experimental Cinema

    • Tuesday, April 29 8:45 pm

    Katherin McInnis in Person. Shifting from the public space of amusement parks to the intimacies of home, seven formally inventive films reveal the emotional resonance of simple objects and familiar places and remind us that one can simultaneously mourn and celebrate the past.

  • Traveling with Pets

    • Monday, April 28 6:30 pm

    An unloved wife finds her colorless world turning remarkably brighter when her husband suddenly expires in this graceful look at a woman's midlife awakening-a Moscow International Film Festival grand prize winner and rare example of Russian feminist cinema.

  • Sleep Dealer

    • Monday, April 28 9:00 pm

    In this ambitious and topical sci-fi film set in the near future, a youngster from a remote Mexican village relocates to Tijuana, where he gets a job working “virtually” by having a set of nodes implanted in his body.

  • Leave Her to Heaven

    • Sunday, April 27 6:00 pm

    Introduced by Schawn Belston. Intoxicating Gene Tierney (Laura) is the femme fatale par excellence in this astounding Technicolor noir classic, now beautifully restored, about a young novelist (Cornel Wilde) whose new bride's extreme jealousy plunges their nuptial heaven into hellish depths of psychic disorder.

  • You, the Living

    • Sunday, April 27 8:30 pm

    This deadpan, pre-apocalyptic comedy of alienation and interdependence plays out through a series of elegantly composed, tangentially linked tableaux. Bypassing neorealism and absurdism, Swedish director Roy Andersson employs nonprofessionals and a fixed camera to achieve a poignant “trivialism.”

  • Forbidden Lie$

    • Sunday, April 27 1:30 pm

    Best-selling author Norma Khouri is exposed as a fraud, but where is the line between truth and fiction? Is her campaign against “honor killing” sincere? This thrilling investigation reveals deepening layers of politics, profit, scandal, and spin.

  • Latent Argentina

    • Sunday, April 27 3:45 pm

    Fernando Solanas documents how his country, rich in natural resources and intellectual capital, has been pillaged by multinationals and trapped in a state of underdevelopment, making an impassioned call to the country's youth to recover the “latent Argentina.”

  • Flow: For Love of Water

    • Saturday, April 26 12:30 pm

    Maude Barlow and Steven Starr in Person. The resource whose scarcity most threatens our future isn't oil-it's water. This crucial documentary shows how access to a life-giving liquid is inextricably, disastrously linked to the flow of capital, while profiling the activists who are swimming against the tide.

  • Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts

    • Saturday, April 26 3:00 pm

    Scott Hicks and Susanne Preissler in Person. Through interviews with Philip Glass's friends, family, and collaborators as well as glimpses of his professional and personal life, this engaging documentary paints a fascinating portrait of one of the world's most famous and controversial composers.

  • Solitary Fragments

    • Saturday, April 26 5:45 pm

    A single mother moves to Madrid, developing a circle of acquaintances whose intertwined daily lives are minutely observed in this disarmingly naturalistic tapestry, suddenly and shockingly torn apart by a terrorist attack. Winner of Spain's best film and director awards.

  • Calcutta My Love

    • Saturday, April 26 8:15 pm

    Young Animesh comes to Calcutta to study but finds his life oscillating between the love of the beautiful Madhabilata and his dedication to a radical political movement in this richly detailed window on a turbulent period in the making of modern India.

  • One Hundred Nails

    • Friday, April 25 6:30 pm

    Italian master Ermanno Olmi's final narrative feature pits religious orthodoxy and book knowledge against spiritual humanism and direct experience as a philosophy professor nails academic life to the floor and moves to live among the people.

  • Two Ladies

    • Friday, April 25 8:30 pm

    Philippe Faucon and Jean-Bernard Marlin in Person. A devout Muslim matriarch and her free-spirited daughter form an unlikely bond with a strong-willed Jewish widow in Algerian-French director Philippe Faucon's warm, wise celebration of family, friendship, and kosher clash. With short Thick Skinned.