The San Francisco International Film Festival is fast-approaching. And for their 60th anniversary they have added even more film screenings, live acts and special guests to the list.

Many of the screenings will include special guests in attendance, including noteable filmmakers, directors, activists and celebrities. Festival honorees for this year include Shah Rukh Khan and Ethan Hawke. Also be on the look out for Jenny Slate at the opening party and opening night screening of ‘Landline’ on April 5.

With such a packed schedule of events and close to 15 venues, we thought we’d try to at least give you a good starting point for tackling this festival. This by no means the all-inclusive list, just some top picks. Be sure to check out the SFFILM website for a full list of events, tickets and other happenings around San Francisco Bay Area, between April 5-19.


Whose Streets?
April 14, 2017, 8:00 p.m.

Directors Damon Davis and Sabaah Jordan expected to attend April 14 screening.

The shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in 2014, was neither the first or last in a series of similar incidents that would stir outrage and controversy nationwide. This film is comprised mostly of local activists’ on-the-ground footage, and is a portrait of citizen activism, which is often met by occupation-style “military war tactics” (as one Fergusonian puts it). The film also sheds light on the shady and very current issue of laws that serve to criminalize protest.

This is a free outdoor screening and shows with Happy Birthday Philando Castile (Mohammad Gorjestani, USA 2016, 8 min).



VR Days
April 9, 2017 and April 10 (multiple showings)
YBCA Forum

The popular VR Days program returns for a second year, and has been expanded to two days. Experience some of this year’s finest storytelling in virtual reality and meet the artists behind this cutting-edge medium.


Long Strange Trip
April 15, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
Castro Theatre

Director Amir Bar-Lev and David Lemieux expected to attend April 15 screening.

This Grateful Dead documentary, largely focused on the life of Jerry Garcia, is executive produced by Martin Scorsese. The doc features home movies, concert clips, brand new interviews with surviving band and crew members, and never-before-seen footage of the group’s first trip through England. A treat for “Deadhead” fans.


Chasing Coral
April 6, 2017, 6:00 p.m.
Castro Theatre

Director Jeff Orlowski expected.

This film serves as a companion piece to Jeff Orlowski’s documentary Chasing Ice (Festival 2012), in which he tracks the visible changes that rising temperatures are having on the planet. In Chasing Coral advanced time-lapse techniques are taken to new depths as the focus shifts from arctic ice to the tropical waters. Orlowski and a team of scientists attempt to record the devastating effects of rising sea temperatures in this eye-opening film.


City of Ghosts
April 13, 2017, 6:00 p.m.
April 16, 2017, 3:00 p.m.
Alamo Drafthouse New Mission

Director Matthew Heineman and Executive Director, Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson expected at April 13 screening.

City of Ghosts refers to the city Raqqa, the foothold of the ISIS regime in Syria, where Muslim extremists perpetuate propaganda and misinformation to the public, hiding what is really happening in the city. The film follows the men behind Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS)—a group of citizen journalists who have risked their own personal freedom and safety in order to confront the Islamic Brotherhood. Armed only with video cameras, Facebook, and Twitter, the men of RBSS are hoping to share their story with the world about what’s happening to their city and fellow citizens.


State of Cinema: Edwin Catmull (Pixar)
April 8, 2017, 11:00 a.m.
Dolby Cinema at 1275 Market

Ed Catmull expected to attend

Each year, SFFILM invites a visionary thinker to discuss the intersecting worlds of contemporary cinema and visual arts, culture and society, images and ideas. This year’s guest is Dr. Ed Catmull of Pixar Animation Studios to explore the connections between technology and the arts, as well as the possibilities inherent to collaborations between artists, individuals and organizations from both backgrounds.


Citizen Kane with William R. Hearst III
April 6, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
YBCA Theater

Special Guest William R. Hearst III expected to attend.

Welles’ 1941 masterpiece of American ambition, delusion, and broken dreams was inspired by the life of publisher William Randolph Hearst. The film created a scandal and was a box-office bomb upon its initial release, although one that went on to receive nine Oscar nominations down the road.

William R. Hearst III, grandson of the inspiration for Kane, will speak about the film and its relationship to the Hearst family with film historian David Thomson.


Disposable Film Festival 10th Anniversary Retrospective
April 13, 2017, 8:30 p.m.
Roxie Theater

Co-founder Carlton Evans expected to attend.

Handheld recording devices and the DIY movement are creating a new kind of artist— the disposable filmmaker. Now in its 10th year, the Disposable Film Festival (running separately between March 3-April 2) has served as a showcase for resourceful, smart, and witty shorts made with everyday equipment. This screening includes a conversation with the co-founder, interspersed with selections from a decade of DFF’s top shorts (12 titles in all).


Asian Dub Foundation Live Score of George Lucas’ THX 1138
April 11, 2017, 8:00 p.m.
Castro Theatre

This live and on-stage performance alongside a showing of George Lucas’ 1971 film THX 1138. The film is set in a dystopian future where every aspect of life is controlled by the state. Efficiency is king and individual thought is forbidden, and love is the ultimate perversion. Executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola and written by Lucas and Walter Murch, THX 1138 conjures a world of chemical brainwashing, android police, and constant surveillance brought to life with chilling intensity. Keep an eye out for a number of iconic Bay Area locations woven into the film, including a peak at the then-under-construction BART tunnels.

The music will be a fusion of punk rock, electronic beats, reggae, bhangra, and hip-hop, that the multicultural Asian Dub Foundation is known for. Their score for THX 1138 incorporates the original soundtrack, which was notable for its use of audio sampling from electronic music artists, alongside their own live flute, guitar, bass, and percussion elements.


Closing Night: The Green Fog – A San Francisco Fantasia with Kronos Quartet
April 16, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Castro Theatre

Directors Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, and Galen Johnson, composer Jacob Garchik, and Kronos Quartet expected.

The Festival closes with an original commission in celebration of its 60th anniversary. A live score by Kronos Quartet will accompany a visual collage that remakes the Hitchcock classic Vertigo. All without using footage from the original, Madden creates a “parallel-universe version” with Bay Area footage from studio classics, ‘50s noir, experimental films, and ‘70s prime-time TV.


Half-Life in Fukushima 
April 13, 2017, 6:30 p.m., YBCA Screening Room
April 17, 2017, 3:30 p.m., Roxie Theater
April 19, 2017, 2:00 p.m., Roxie Theater

A film of minimal commentary, Half-life follows the life of one elderly Japanese farmer who, five years after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster that rendered the land of his ancestors largely uninhabitable, has refused to leave. He tends to the region’s abandoned animals and negotiates survival within the radioactive red zone that was once a thriving seaside city. “Wandering through Fukushima’s abandoned downtown, he finds human contact in contamination suit-clad cleanup crews and explores the concrete ruins of the tsunami-shattered seawall.”



Shorts 3: Animation
April 9, 2017, 8:30 p.m., Roxie Theater
April 16, 2017, 3:15 p.m., Roxie Theater

Director Stacey Steers (April 16), art director Nick Cross (Summer Camp Island), Jose Luis Gonzalez (April 9), and producer Greg Rice (Everything) expected.

This list would not be complete without an animation pick. This inventive and touching list of eight animated selection serve as a sampling of a variety of techniques and is expected to be a visual delight.