SFIFF54: 24 Films Announced, Including Opening and Closing Night Films

Even though the full schedule of films set to play this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival will not be announced until March 29th, both the Opening Night and Closing Night films have already been made public.  We have trailers and showtime information for both films after the jump.

Also after the jump, you’ll find a complete list of the 12 Feature-length Documentaries from 11 Countries that are contending for $60,000.00 in Cash Prizes.  We also have the list of the 11 Narrative Features competing for this year’s New Directors Prize.  Information on all of these films, complete with trailers can be found after the jump.

Opening Night Film and Closing Night Films

The Opening Night Film will be Mike MillsBeginners.  Mostly known for his work in the world of music videos for Moby and Air, Mills directed his debut feature-length film, Thumbsucker. That film turned out to be success with both filmgoers and critics alike.  Taking a break between Thumbsucker and his latest, Mills dove into documentary filmmaking with Does Your Soul Have A Cold, where he successfully tackled the somber issues surrounding depression amongst five Japanese individuals.  Now, Mills’ latest starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent is already receiving lots of positive responses.  It’s rating on IMDB is currently at a 7.8 and Karina Longworth of The Village Voice had this to say after her screening at TIFF “Beginners is a Sensitive Silverlake Man-Child Weepie, for sure, but its stylistic quirk is counterbalanced by Mills’s highly observant feel for how real people behave“.

Showtime for Beginners is Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 7:00pm (Castro Theatre – 429 Castro Street)

Aside from its sweet retro movie poster, this year’s Closing Night film looks to be a real hoot.  Actor and writer, Mathieu Amalric’s makes his directorial debut with his new film On Tour (Tournée).  Amalric is probably most commonly known in the US for his roles as the James Bond villain in Quantum of Solace, the paralyzed writer in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and in Alain Resnais‘ hit Wild Grass. In On Tour (Tournée), Amalric takes on the role manager to one risqué Burlesque Show.  Hopefully, this comedy/drama will make for the perfect bookend to this year’s festival.

Showtime for On Tour (Tournée) is Thursday, May 5, 2011 @ 7:00pm (Castro Theatre – 429 Castro Street)

Documentary Competition

Better This World (USA) (IMDB link) “Set against the backdrop of the 2008 Republican National Convention amid bomb plots, arrests and subsequent trials, this twist-filled portrait of two young activists caught in the web of an opportunistic mentor and a desperate justice system poignantly describes not only the problems of power and authority, but also the ultimate power of forgiveness and love.” – SFIFF54

Cinema Komunisto (Serbia) (IMDB link)”This evocative documentary explores the cinematic history of Yugoslavia under Tito. Exploring the ruins of forgotten film studios and sets, making ample use of clips from propaganda films and talking to directors, producers, actors and Tito’s personal projectionist, the film reveals the manifold complexities of the era.” – SFIFF54

Crime After Crime (USA) (IMDB link) (Trailer)”This intimate look at the coming together of a female prisoner and her two pro bono lawyers is a must-see documentary for those interested in the power of film to change the course of events. Observed over a five-and-a-half year period, the saga of one woman’s case resounds with broader social implications.” – SFIFF54

Detroit Wild City (USA) (IMDB link) (Trailer) “A beautifully crafted portrait of the city of Detroit, a shell of its former incarnation as car manufacturing hub of the nation. As the city empties out, however, this documentary uncovers pockets of urban pioneers, finding and making use of what the city still has to offer.” – SFIFF54

Foreign Parts (USA) (IMDB link) “Foreign Parts portrays an enclave of auto shops and junkyards in the shadow of a new baseball stadium in Queens. The film observes this vibrant community of immigrants — for whom car wrecks, refuse and recycling form a thriving ecosystem — as it struggles for daily survival.” – SFIFF54

The Good Life (Denmark) (IMDB link) “A Danish mother and daughter, living in a rundown house in Portugal, bemoan their vanished wealth and present circumstances. Through old photos and home movies and present-day footage, The Good Life constructs an insightful portrait of an eccentric, dysfunctional relationship.” – SFIFF54

The Green Wave (Germany/Iran) (IMDB link) (Trailer) “This riveting documentary for the 21st century combines powerful animation, minute-by-minute Twitter feeds, blog accounts and mobile phone video footage alongside conventional on-camera testimonies to recount the abortive 2009 antigovernment Iranian youth revolt called the Green Wave — a revolution in flux, yet evergreen with hope.” – SFIFF54

Marathon Boy (England/USA/India) (IMDB link) “A scrappy slum kid with a gift for running meets a driven judo instructor with dreams of Olympic fame. Their complicated, compelling relationship turns India upside down in this documentary that gets up close and personal, while expertly guiding us through a series of twists and turns that are both exciting and unsettling.” – SFIFF54

The Pipe (Ireland) (IMDB link) (Trailer) “On Ireland’s west coast, a group of farmers, fishermen and homeowners crusade against Shell Oil’s plans to run a gas pipeline through their town and countryside. The heroic attempts of these citizens to take on Big Oil divide this small community for which the pipeline may mean either the prospect of increased prosperity or the end of their way of life.” – SFIFF54

Position Among The Stars (Netherlands) (IMDB link) (Trailer) “The third in a series of documentaries focusing on one particular Indonesian family presents a stylized portrait of family members facing poverty, religious differences and adolescent rebellion.

The Redemption of General Butt Naked (USA) (IMDB link) “Can a ruthless mass killer ever really become a messenger of peace and forgiveness? This riveting documentary traces the rise and fall of General Butt Naked — feared warlord of Liberia’s 14-year civil war — and his self-proclaimed quest to now heal his country and redeem his own soul as a newborn evangelist, armed only with the power of the Gospel.” – SFIFF54

The Tiniest Place (Mexico) (IMDB link) (Trailer) “Years after the Salvadoran National Guard destroyed the jungle-shrouded village of Cinquera in that country’s civil war, survivors begin returning home to rebuild their community from the ashes. Soulful and beautifully rendered, this documentary feature debut is an evocative testament to memory and the power of life to rebound after unspeakable tragedy.” – SFIFF54

New Directors Competition

Autumn (India) (IMDB link) “Mourning the disappearance of his older brother, a young man tries to make a life for himself in his violence-ridden home of Kashmir in this powerful depiction of the loss and psychological decay caused by 20 years of violent conflict.” – SFIFF54

Circumstance (USA/France/Iran/Lebanon) (IMDB link) “This debut feature is a riveting political drama and love story, and a Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner, about a burgeoning romance between two young Iranian women and the fraught allegiances of a single Tehrani family.” – SFIFF54

The High Life (China) (IMDB link) “Combining street realism and surprising artifice, the first fiction feature by the Chinese independent filmmaker of acclaimed documentaries Street Life and Ghost Town depicts hustlers, migrants, prisoners and others on the shabby outskirts of Guangzhou, where everyone is on the move but nobody seems to be getting anywhere.” – SFIFF54

The Journals of Musan (South Korea) (IMDB) (Trailer) “North Korean defector Seung-chul is an unwanted refugee living on the harsh edges of Seoul. Bewildered by exploitative employers and cynical urbanites, he’s no good for business, just barely for church. A powerful realism underscores this prizewinning feature debut about the struggle to survive in a strange new world.” – SFIFF54

Kinyarwanda (USA/Rwanda) (IMDB link) (Trailer) “Kinyarwanda tells the tale of genocide and reconciliation in Rwanda in the early to mid-’90s through a series of parallel and overlapping narratives from a variety of Tutsi and Hutu perspectives.” – SFIFF54

My Joy (Germany/Ukraine/Netherlands) (IMDB link) (Trailer) “A taciturn truck driver hits the pitted asphalt road for a journey into rural Russia and encounters with peculiar folk — an old man still plagued by the Great War, a teenage prostitute who shuns kindness, a trio of tramps who wander the wasteland like an unholy trinity — in this gripping and surprising guignol about a republic in decline.” – SFIFF54

The Place in Between (France/Burkina Faso) (IMDB link) “In this simple but moving story of global displacement, a young biracial woman raised in France travels to Burkina Faso in search of the mother she hasn’t seen in many years. Having felt the outsider in Paris, Amy is now equally adrift in the city of her childhood. Meanwhile in Paris, an émigré from Burkina Faso who makes her living as a cleaner teaches the Dioula language to a white, middle-class office worker.” – SFIFF54

The Salesman (Canada) (IMDB link) (Trailer) “Featuring a remarkable central performance, The Salesman immerses us in the world of Marcel Lévesque, a quick-witted car salesman in a small, industrial Quebec town. Marcel has been salesman of the month for the last 16 years at the dealership where he has spent his career so he enthusiastically soldiers on despite the imminent shutdown of the local paper plant that employs most of the town’s residents.” – SFIFF54

She Monkeys (Sweden) (IMDB link) “While trying out for the equestrian vaulting team, Emma befriends the slightly older Cassandra, but almost immediately their friendship is complicated by misunderstandings, jealousies and escalating struggles for power in this provocative examination of emergent sexuality and adolescent female friendships.” – SFIFF54

Tilva Rosh (Serbia) (IMDB link) (Trailer) “Bor, in eastern Serbia, was once home to the largest copper mine in Europe. Now it’s just the biggest hole in the ground. This astutely observed coming-of-age film expertly captures the pitfalls of the adult world, where idealism and hope no longer seem to have a place, as two teen skateboarders come to realize they have no choice but to grow up.” – SFIFF54

Ulysses (Chile/Argentina) (IMDB) “The emotional life of a Peruvian immigrant in Chile is the subject of this nuanced character study of a man uprooted from home by economic necessity and suffering overwhelming loneliness and dislocation. He strives to improve his lot, but higher wages can’t fill the void created by separation from everything that is dear to him.” – SFIFF54

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Categories: Festivals, San Francisco International Film Festival

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