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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Three Films Not to Miss at the Upcoming San Francisco International Film Festival

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 2:00 PM

  • Photo by Jenni Morello

Let it be known: A torrent of incredible films approaches the city in the coming days starting tomorrow (Thursday) in the form of the San Francisco International Film Festival, the biggest of the year in a city that already has a handful of significant festivals and truckloads of worthwhile smaller ones. Movies are spread out amongst several theaters, with the epicenter being the small cluster sprinkled about Japantown. With about 200 films screening this year, The Exhibitionist had to do a bit of frantic, sweat-soaked, pick-and-choosing to suss out three fine films to showcase. We'll have other previews and reviews as the festival continues, and you can read a broader overview here.

Click through to see what three we believe are among the best.

  • Photo by Jenni Morello
1. Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, d. Matthew Akers

Marina Abramovic, the world-famous performance artist, seems two things on the surface: stone-cold crazy (what with her art projects involving her naked body and in more than a few cases, self-employed physical abuse) and cold as ice. The Artist Is Present goes a long way to dispel either of these notions. Focusing on Abramovic's three-month MOMA New York retrospective last year, more specifically the "Artist Is Present" show where Abramovic sat in a chair for eight hours a stay staring meaningfully in to the eyes of whomever might sit in front of her, the film pulls back the velvet curtain, as far as it will go, to expose the true Abramovic. Shot and edited beautifully, you'll be stunned by how lovely a person Abramovic seems and also at how moving it can be for two people to stare at each other.

Screens April 21 and 28 at Kabuki and April 29 at Pacific Film Archive.


2. Patience (After Sebald), d. Grant Gee

What might draw you to Patience (After Sebald) is the beautifully gloomy, somehow German feeling score by musical genius The Caretaker, but Grant Gee's film about forgotten German author WG Sebald thrives on its own. You might think that a two-time Grammy nominated director who has made his filmic name on documentaries about looming rock gods such as Radiohead (Meeting People Is Easy) and Gorillaz (Demon Dayz) would struggle with a dense and strange little subject like WG Sebald's most famous book The Rings of Saturn. But no. With the booming score by The Caretaker and a voiceover by Jonathan Pryce, the film brings to light the enormous effect an author like WG Sebald, faded as years ticked on, has had on the current slate of writers. Dark and strange and surprisingly moving.

Screens April 27 at Pacific Film Archive, April 28 at San Francisco Film Society Cinema, and May 1 at Kabuki.


3. The Waiting Room, d. Peter Nicks

If you live in San Francisco, you've heard the stories about a night in Potrero Hill's S.F. General Hospital. Blood, drunks, and hideous injuries all mixed in with a healthy dash of emotional crisis. Peter Nick jaunts across the bay to Oakland's Highland Hospital to document the vast emotional spectrum that exists in just one day in the life and times of the patients and caretakers who populate the emergency medical unit. The film not only puts a much-deserved spotlight on the faceless nature of emergency medicine (for patients and providers) but also digs deeply in to the festering wound of economic disparity that mars the heart of America's health care system.

Screens April 21 at Pacific Film Archive and April 30 and May 1 at Kabuki.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow Noah Sanders at @sandersnoah. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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