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The S.F. International Film Fest ponders a move

Wednesday, May 2 2001
A Tale of Springtime It's a long way from being settled, but the folks who run the S.F. International Film Festival are mulling a calendar switch. "My first instinct, knowing nothing, was, "Let's move to the fall,'" confides new Executive Director Roxanne Messina Captor. "It had been broached prior to my coming here, and it's a worthwhile discussion to have again." Such a move seems an obvious call: With the cream of European cinema premiering at Cannes just two weeks later, most of the SFIFF program inevitably consists of the previous year's films. (Directors Michael Haneke and Manoel de Oliveira illustrate the point this year, with 2000 films showing here and 2001 releases competing on the Croisette -- Cannes' main boulevard.) A post-Cannes date would give the SFIFF access to the new titles. Another point in favor of a move is that the serious Hollywood films that Captor is eager to attract (featuring the name actors with whom the festival board wants to hobnob) come out in the fall and at Christmas.

The main obstacle to a fall date is the Mill Valley Film Festival, which wouldn't appreciate an interloper anywhere near its October spotlight. Worse, S.F. would be vying with the Toronto and New York festivals for films, guests, and industry support. Captor puts forward another idea. "Some industry people said to me at Sundance, "It would be better if you guys were pre-Oscars.'" Their thinking was the festival could round up the lion's share of the official submissions for the Academy Award for Foreign Language Film, a programming niche that only the Palm Springs Film Festival (!) has staked out. It's not a radical idea: Back in the late '80s, the SFIFF took place in mid-March. But the '89 quake proved so disruptive that the next festival got pushed back five weeks to a late April/early May slot, where it has lived ever since. In the ensuing decade, the list of film festivals -- in the Bay Area and internationally -- grew so long that August is now the only month with no major fests. But how do you find a hotel room in San Francisco in August?

American Pie My solicitation for ugly movie star anecdotes from restaurant staffers ("L.A. Confidential," April 18) provoked a rapid response. "A few years ago," Bob Walker e-mails from Stinson Beach, "when waiting on Sharon Stone and her husband at mc2, I pulled my spiral pad out to take their order and a tablet flew out of my pocket and landed in the middle of her place-setting. "What's that?' she asked. "Ginseng,' I answered, "which we're not actually serving tonight,' as I quickly removed it with a flick of my crumber. Later, when examining the dessert menu, she asked me a question I was unable to answer. "Maybe you should be taking gingko, not ginseng,' she remarked." Thanks, Bob, but the idea is to make the celebrity look bad. Nonetheless, you've got a pair of tix to Baise-Moi, packin' 'em in at the Roxie through Sunday. Who's next?

Stop Making Sense MGM has pushed back the opening of Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes' Ghost World to Aug. 3, when the target audience of disaffected suburban teens will be out of school. ... Following last year's hugely successful New York run, local filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt's dense and powerful short films open May 11 for a week at the Roxie, the Fine Arts (Berkeley), and the Rafael (San Rafael). (Learn more about him in "The 10-Minute Masterpiece," Dec. 13, 2000.) ... Metropolitan Monologues, George Kuchar's latest comic study of humility and humiliation, receives its Bay Area premiere May 23 at the PFA.

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Michael Fox


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