San Francisco, CA — The San Francisco Film Society has announced the highly anticipated Big Nights selections for the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 21–May 5), including its Opening Night, Centerpiece and Closing Night programs. The two-week event kicks off with Whit Stillman’s hilarious and wry Love & Friendship (Ireland 2016), an adaptation of a Jane Austen novella starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny. Slated as the Festival’s high-profile Centerpiece event is Indignation (USA 2015), James Schamus’ directorial debut based on novelist Philip Roth’s fictionalized account of his college experiences in the 1950s. Finally, the Festival will come to a close with local director Jesse Moss’ documentary The Bandit(USA 2016), a jubilant look at Burt Reynolds, stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham and their high-speed pursuit classic Smokey and the Bandit. Special guests are expected to attend and participate in post-screening Q&As at each event. The Opening and Closing Night screenings will be followed by the Festival’s signature celebratory parties.
“We are proud to present this well-rounded group of films and filmmakers as our Big Nights in 2016,” said San Francisco Film Society Executive Director Noah Cowan. “From venerable indie director Whit Stillman delivering a refreshingly contemporary Jane Austen adaptation, to James Schamus—one of the world’s greatest writer/producers—directing his first film, to Bay Area star documentary maker Jesse Moss bringing his raucous Hollywood portrait home, we look forward to welcoming these exceptionally talented folks to San Francisco to help us celebrate our 59th edition.”
Featuring renowned artists, acclaimed films and some of San Francisco’s landmark historical theatres, SFIFF’s Big Nights are annual high points on the Bay Area cultural calendar. The Opening Night, Centerpiece and Closing Night festivities frame two weeks of cinematic celebration and give the film community a chance to gather for the love of world-class cinema and to drink, dance and discuss great films.
Opening Night: Love & Friendship
Thursday April 21, 7:00 pm, Castro Theatre
Director Whit Stillman and star Kate Beckinsale expected to attend.
Writer-director Whit Stillman brings a very funny sense and sensibility to this period comedy as sassy social climber Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) tries to finagle out of a scandal and gain matrimonial advantage for herself and her daughter. Witty and spry from start to finish, Stillman’s adaptation of a Jane Austin novella set in the 1790s charms as it peers into the affairs of the privileged and those who aspire to be, winking at contemporary pretensions through the lens of the past.
The Opening Night celebration continues at 9:00 pm at Public Works (161 Erie Street). Attendees will kick off the SFIFF59 and celebrate the Festival’s new Mission home as the 2016 program opens. Live entertainment, dancing, food and drink. Must be 21+ to attend. SFIFF Opening Night is sponsored by True Ventures.
Saturday April 30, 8:00 pm, Victoria Theatre
Director James Schamus expected to attend.
James Schamus (Kanbar Award recipient, SFIFF 2010) makes his directorial debut with an elegant adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel, a fictionalized account of the author’s own college experiences in the ’50s. Logan Lerman gives a terrific performance as Marcus Messner, one of a handful of Jewish students on the Midwestern university campus, whose efforts to assert and define himself are tested in interactions with the college dean, a beautiful blonde and his protective mother.
Closing Night: The Bandit
Thursday May 5, 7:00 pm, Castro Theatre
Director Jesse Moss expected to attend.
An exuberant, surprisingly moving romp through 1970s pop culture, The Bandit celebrates the friendship between superstar actor Burt Reynolds and stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham, as together they create the Southern-fried classic Smokey and the Bandit. Bay Area director Jesse Moss (The Overnighters, SFIFF 2014) brings great warmth and impossibly retro-cool archival footage to this exceptional dual biography.
Attendees will close out the Festival with the Closing Night Party at Mezzanine (444 Jessie Street) at 9:00 pm. Festival goers will gather for one last blowout at Mezzanine and dance, drink, snack and revel in an incredible two weeks of cinematic adventures. Must be 21+ to attend.
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59th San Francisco International Film Festival
The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival runs April 21-May 5 at the Castro Theatre, the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission, the Roxie Theater and the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco and BAMPFA in Berkeley. Held each spring for 15 days, SFIFF is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country’s most beautiful cities, featuring nearly 200 films and live events, 14 juried awards with nearly $40,000 in cash prizes and upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests.
San Francisco Film Society
Building on a legacy of more than 50 years of bringing the best in world cinema to the Bay Area, the San Francisco Film Society is a national leader in exhibition, education and filmmaker services.
The Film Society presents more than 100 days of exhibition each year, reaching a total audience of more than 100,000 people. Its acclaimed education program introduces international, independent and documentary cinema and media literacy to more than 10,000 teachers and students. Through Filmmaker360, the Film Society’s filmmaker services program, essential creative and business services, and funding totaling millions of dollars are provided to deserving filmmakers at all stages of their careers.
The Film Society seeks to elevate all aspects of film culture, offering a wide range of activities that engage emotions, inspire action, change perceptions and advance knowledge. A 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, it is largely donor and member supported. Membership provides access to discounts, private events and a wealth of other benefits.
For more information visit sffs.org.