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Past Forward 

For its 40th year, the San Francisco International Film Festival boldly goes where it has gone before

Wednesday, Apr 23 1997
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Page 6 of 7

9:30 p.m.
Wake Up Love
See commentary under Thursday, April 24.

Monday, April 28

1 p.m.
The Man Who Couldn't Feel and Other Tales
(England, 1996)
Three short films from avant-gardist Joram ten Brink.

1:15 p.m.
The Trap
See commentary under Friday, April 25.

1:30 p.m.
Chronicle of a
Disappearance
See commentary under Sunday, April 27.

3:30 p.m.
It's Elementary (U.S.A., 1996)
"They think it means you're going to explain sodomy to first-graders," says local filmmaker Debra Chasnoff of the resistance she and co-producer Helen Cohen met in filming classroom lessons on homosexuality. In four years of filming, the pair could only find six schools willing to participate. Footage of protests and school board fights, set against reports of gay teen suicide and anti-gay violence, was drawn primarily from news broadcasts. But the politics play out against an insightful series of lively teacher-guided discussions about issues like kids with gay relatives, stereotyping, and discrimination against gays. (Wisner)

4 p.m.
The Land of Leja
See commentary under Friday, April 25.

4:30 p.m.
Traveller
See commentary under Saturday, April 26.

6:45 p.m.
Goodbye South,Goodbye
See commentary under Saturday, April 26.

7 p.m.
The World of Steve Silver
(U.S.A., 1997)

If audiences didn't know much about Steve Silver before, they still won't after they see Ken Swartz's documentary on the late creator of Beach Blanket Babylon. Swartz takes the tribute route, glossing over the life of a potentially fascinating subject, and makes only passing references to various legal hassles Silver had or the privacy he guarded so fiercely. (Silver freely offered romance advice, says Armistead Maupin, but never discussed his own love life.) There's some footage from BBB's early days at the Savoy-Tivoli and shots of the celebrities, from Queen Elizabeth to Carol Channing, Silver met along the way, but lack of dimension turns this documentary into something like the show itself -- a tourist attraction. (Wisner)

7 p.m. (at the CASTRO)
Autumn Sun
See commentary under Friday, April 25.

7 p.m. (at the PFA)
Drifting Clouds
See commentary under Friday, April 25.

7:30 p.m.
Honey and Ashes
(Switzerland/Tunisia, 1996)

"Three Tunisian women struggle from freedom from the legacy of the harem," the fest reports.

9 p.m. (at the PFA)
Carla's Song
See commentary under Saturday, April 26.

9:15 p.m.
* Swordsman II
(Hong Kong, 1991)

Another dazzling entry in the Hong Kong gender-bender sweepstakes. This one features the great Jet Li as an exuberant lush whose endless attempts to retire from martial arts are thwarted by warring sects and especially by the glorious Brigitte Lin, a "male" cult leader who castrates himself to consolidate power and becomes a woman in the process. The film's dizzying fight scenes are thrilling, but the most seductive elements are the gay and lesbian underpinnings, especially Jet's intense romance with the ultrapowerful Lin, which proves to be her undoing. Selected by director Henry Selick for the fest's "Indelible Images" series. (Morris)

9:30 p.m.
The Man Who Couldn't Feel and Other Tales
See commentary under today, 1 p.m.

9:30 p.m. (at the CASTRO)
Viridiana (Spain, 1961)
The Bunuel classic; chosen by Saul Zaentz for the fest's "Indelible Images" series.

9:45 p.m.
Believe Me
See commentary under Friday, April 25.

Tuesday, April 29

1 p.m.
The King of Masks
See commentary under Saturday, April 26.

1:15 p.m.
Nenette and Boni
See commentary under Saturday, April 26.

1:30 p.m.
Man of the Story
See commentary under Sunday, April 27.

4 p.m.
* Love Serenade
(Australia, 1996)

In this hilariously perverse fairy tale, the prince is in fact a frog, and the two princesses who vie for his favors are certifiable. Australian writer/director Shirley Barrett uses disco and Top 40 kitsch as a background for the Hurley sisters' fight over a smarmy big-city DJ (George Shevtsov), who moves in next door. In a comic high point, the sisters turn a leisurely canoe cruise with their bored prince into a screaming match over whether their dog, Sooty, was sucked into one of the river's mysterious "holes" or was eaten by a carp. (Morris)

4:15 p.m.
La Rencontre
See commentary under Saturday, April 26.

4:30
Clubbed to Death
See commentary under Saturday, April 26.

7 p.m.
Just for Laughs!
See commentary under Friday, April 25.

7 p.m. (at the CASTRO)
Love's Debris
See commentary under Sunday, April 27.

7 p.m. (PFA)
Little Angel
See commentary under Friday, April 25.

7:15 p.m.
Noel Field -- The Fictitious Spy
See commentary under Sunday, April 27.

7:30 p.m.
Two or Three Things About Women
(U.S.A., 1996)

Three documentaries by and about women. The program includes the presentation of the Mel Novikoff Award to S.F.'s Film Arts Foundation.

9:15 p.m.
When the Cat's Away
See commentary under Thursday, April 24.

9:15 p.m. (at the PFA)
Wake Up Love
See commentary under Thursday, April 24.

9:30 p.m.
* A Private Function
(England, 1984)

British playwright and TV writer Alan Bennett once complained that film directors confuse moviemaking with generalship, and thus fail to see his screenplays as "ready-made movie material" -- since in his scripts, "the infantry is recruited from aunties, and wheelchairs make up the armored division." But his first produced screenplay, A Private Function, about a pig and a bloke, proved to be prime British comedy on the hoof. It's set in 1947, when postwar food rationing is at its fiercest. Three Yorkshire professional men (Denholm Elliott, Richard Griffiths, and John Normington) plan a celebration banquet for the impending royal wedding. For a proper feast they buy an unlicensed pig and fatten her up in secret, out of reach of a sinister Ministry of Food inspector (Bill Patterson). Enter the new local loony in town, foot doctor Michael Palin, who ends up playing Androcles to the porker, relieving Betty of a painful splinter and ultimately pignapping her. Bennett has a wicked sense of how all our advanced-primate itches -- whether for food or affection, tradition or glory -- simply demand to be scratched, no matter what the circumstances. (Sragow)

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