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GreenCine Movie Talk
From Albania to Zaire, there's a whole world out there.

SFIFF-49: Wacky and Grand
Topic by: JGereben
Posted: March 28, 2006 - 7:14 PM PST
Last Reply: March 28, 2006 - 7:14 PM PST

author topic: SFIFF-49: Wacky and Grand
post #1  on March 28, 2006 - 7:14 PM PST  
"... and she is shot between the eyes. Miraculously only dazed, she grabs a mysterious cylinder from the café floor, thus making off with a clone of George W. Bush's finger. And then things get really weird..."

That's from the synopsis of "The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai," to be featured at the San Francisco International Film Festival, which will unspool its 49th season here April 20 through May 4. Promised to be "raunchy and hilarious in equal measures," the presence of this "pink film" in the festival is significant - along with another Japanese offering, "Executive Koala," and the festival-opener itself, Seijun Suzuki's "Princess Raccoon," with Ziyi (the echt-Chinese "Geisha") Zhang as a creature, who changes her shape at will.

Quirkiness has always been a vital component of SFIFF, although the festival, which is among the oldest and largest in the world, could certainly take itself "seriously" and leave the odd stuff to others. Being lighthearted is terribly important when you could get lost in the official details of "227 films - 97 features and 130 shorts - from 41 countries, including a world premiere, 11 North American premieres, 12 US premieres, and 38 West Coast premieres."

When you are so big and important that you can attract the likes of Werner Herzog and Jean-Claude Carrière to attend in person, accepting awards, Tilda Swinton, to give the "State of the Cinema" address, and hundreds of film-makers and industry professionals from everywhere on the globe - well, you could go easy on stuff like the Rooster Teeth Productions' "Cock Byte: Masters of Machinima"; the new International ReMix event that allows visitors to the site to re-edit, remix and redo clips from some festival films; or the new documentary "Metal: a Headbanger's Journey."

Rather than turning more "mature" in time for next year's half-century mark, SFIFF is likely to have even more fun, judging by the debut today at the Hotel St. Francis press conference of Graham Leggat, new executive director of the festival's parent organization, San Francisco Film Society.

Leggat, son of a Scottish soccer legend, comes from the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and a decades-long residence in New York. He made a terrific impression today with a seemingly all-encompassing knowledge as he held forth - well beyond his allotted time - in an improvised, scriptless presentation, showing flashes of good humor, being at ease in his new job. After hearing Leggat once, you will not need visual imput to recognize him; he could be on radio, unintroduced, and you'd instantly know him by a unique cadence: a Scottish/Texan/Valley Girl sing-song, with upward inflection not only at the end of sentences, but of phrases or even of single words.

Leggat is apparently giving Linda Blackaby's programming department more say in shaping the festival than they had under his predecessor, Messina Captor. The atmosphere, staff morale seem to have picked up markedly during Leggat's five months on the job.

Among the festival's many categories, a particularly important one features "international directors with unique visions," including Denmark's Anders Thomas Jensen ("Adam's Apples") and Per Fly ("Manslaughter"); Japan's Masahiro Kobayashi ("Bashing"), Nobuhiro Suwa ("A Perfect Couple"), and Koji Wakamatsu ("Cycling Chronicles"); France's Patrice Chéreau ("Gabrielle") and Philippe Faucon ("The Betrayal"); Brazil's Beto Brant ("Delicate Crime") and Andrucha Waddington ("The House of Sand"); Spain's Carlos Saura ("Iberia") and Marcelo Piñeyro ("The Grönholm Method"); Italy's Giuseppe Piccioni's ("The Life I Want"); Chile's Raul Ruiz ("The Lost Domain"); China's Ning Ying ("Perpetual Motion"); Russia's Alexander Sokurov ("The Sun"); Taiwan's Hou Shia-Hsien ("Three Times") and Tsai Ming-Liang ("The Wayward Cloud").

For an overview of the festival, see; information about "big nights" is at; an article about Carrière is at Detailed information about all programs should go online soon at

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