Three Films, Five Days

PARANOID PARK
A San Francisco
Film Society Benefit
Plus a book signing for CINEMA NOW

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On December 8, join us for a benefit screening of Gus Van Sant’s new film, Paranoid Park, which won the 60th Anniversary Award at the Cannes Film Festival this year. At once a dreamlike portrait of teen alienation and a boldly experimental work of film narrative, Paranoid Park finds Gus Van Sant at the height of his powers. Alex, a withdrawn high-school skateboarder (Gabe Nevins) struggles to make sense of his involvement in an accidental death: He recalls past events across tides of memory, and expresses his feelings in a diary that is, in fact, the movie we are watching. The extraordinary skating scenes, filmed by cinematographers Christopher Doyle and Rain Kathy Li in a lyrical mixture of Super 8 and 35mm, depict their subjects soaring in space, momentarily free of the earthly troubles of adolescence. The screening will take place at 7 pm at the Letterman Digital Arts Center Premiere Theatre in the Presidio. Tickets are on sale now ($12 SFFS members, $15 general). The screening will be preceded at 6:15 pm by a personal appearance of author Andrew Bailey signing copies of his new book, Cinema Now, a Taschen publication that examines the work and key themes of 60 filmmakers working around world today, from the cream of the crop of young Hollywood to the new wave of Asian mavericks to burgeoning auteurs from Europe and Latin America. Special thanks to IFC Films. [From SFFS publicity]

I got a copy of Cinema Now. The book will make an excellent reference. In my years of film-going I have never been director centric, except for really well known directors like Antonioni or Fellini or Altman. Now, I have a handy — and weighty — reference.

Gus Van Sant was there to introduce the film and do a Q & A after.
The film is amazing!
Light, sound, pictures all come together to get inside Alex” head, and he has a lot on his mind. He needs to talk to somebody, but who? A high school buddy says, “write it down, write a letter, to me.”
Then what?
“Whatever,” she says. “Tuck is away, send it to me, burn it, the act of writing and unloading your mind is what’s important.”
So we”re in his head as he’s writing the letter.
Beautiful.

Monday 12.10.07
SFFS Members Screening
7:30 pm WAR DANCE

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Sean Fine, Andrea Nix; USA 2006, 105 min
[War Dance] A powerful and emotionally charged documentary, War Dance tells the story of a group of extraordinary children who live in a displaced persons camp in northern Uganda, a country ravaged by more than two decades of civil war. Their families torn apart, their homes destroyed and their innocence lost, these children—orphans and escaped child soldiers—try to repair their lives with music and dance classes in the camp where they reside. Their talent, dedication and enthusiasm qualify them for an invitation to participate in a prestigious music and dance competition in Uganda’s capital. This film won the documentary prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and is a THINKFilm release. [From SFFS publicity]

Mad Hot Ballroom travels to Africa.
But seriously, the film depicts life in a displaced persons camp. The kids turn to music with home made instruments — and dance to lift their spirits. So in the Mad Hot Ballroom style, we see kids practicing — from the total dufas stage to accomplished singers and dancers — and ultimately we go with them to the Final Competition. And the winner is,
The film is not clear on:
Who are the rebels?
Where did these people live before they were displaced?
But we do get a snapshot of Uganda and some of its people. This is good. And the film is very good for as far as it goes.

PERSEPOLIS
A San Francisco
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Co-directors Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paraonnaud in attendance

Join us on December 12 at the newlook Sundance Cinemas Kabuki for a Film Society benefit screening of the award-winning Persepolis. Tickets are on sale now (Film Society members $20, general $25) and include a pre-reception. Marjane Satrapi (with co-director Vincent Paronnaud, both will be in attendance) brings her acclaimed memoirs about an irrepressible young girl growing up in Iran and Europe to the big screen with a style that combines a vivid and bold visual design with amusing and heart-rending storytelling. Thematically rich, the film covers the changing political climate in Iran during the ’70s and ’80s, the difficulties and challenges of boarding school and expatriate life, as well as the admirable efforts of the Satrapi family to maintain a warm and open home life amidst an increasingly hostile external environment. Featuring the vocal talents of Chiara Mastroianni and her real-life mother Catherine Deneuve as Marjane and her mother, this Cannes prizewinner (and submission for Best Foreign Language Film) is a sensational film for adults and discerning younger audiences. Buy tickets here or by calling 925-866-9559.

6:00 pm Reception
Before the screening, explore the newly transformed Sundance Cinemas Kabuki and enjoy complimentary hors d”oeuvres, popcorn and soft drinks. Spirits, wine and beer will be available for purchase.
7:30 pm Screening with extended intro by Marjane Satrapi and co-director Vincent Paraonnaud [From SFFS publicity]

The animation, production, voices and music were excellent with some great comic bits. I thought the script was weak, but it dealt with an interesting, schizophrenic period of Iran’s history, Shah, Iran Iraq war, Khomeini. Since this was a memior, the extended interview with Marjane Satrapi preceding the film was perfect as we got a chance to experience her “voice.”

This was a pre-opening of the newly renovated Sundance Cinemas Kabuki and it is beautiful. A forest of bamboo grows in the lobby to soften the mundane ticket buying/will-call experience. Upstairs is a bistro, intimate, though rather large, and the perfect place for an after-screening glass of wine to discuss the film. Following the opening, one will be able to purchase tickets in advance on-line and all seats will be reserved. The houses feature stadium seating with generous spacing between rows and all new sound and projection facilities. Heaven for the film buff.

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