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San Francisco International Film Festival

SF's Premier Film Event

The world of film is returning to San Francisco on April 22nd for the 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival. For two weeks, SFIFF will present a multitude of outstanding films, awards, and celebrations for fans and professionals alike.

But, of course, the main attraction is the films themselves. This year, audiences will be greeted with 177 films from 46 countries in 33 languages — everything from established, award-winning filmmakers to the best up-and-comers in the international community.

The festival opens on April 22nd with a screening of acclaimed French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s (Amelie, A Very Long Engagement) Micmacs, his first film in five years. Those who loved Amelie’s fantastical story of romance will fall in love all over again with this tale of a man finding acceptance while battling weapons manufacturers responsible for his father’s death via landmine.

Jeunet combines comedy, suspense and fantasy to create one of the most original films in recent memory. An opening-night party with cocktails, international cuisine, and live music will follow the screening.

This year’s centerpiece is a Sundance darling, the debut film from triple-threat Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother). happythankyoumoreplease is the director/writer/actor’s tour de force of neo-hipsters accepting adulthood in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The film has already shaken the film world as Radnor makes his transition from sitcom star to celebrated auteur. Screening on May 1, followed by a celebratory party, this is a must-see this year.

Closing out the festival on May 6 is Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work. Filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg chronicle Joan Rivers at 75 as she struggles to stay relevant in an ever-changing business. Mixed with archival footage, the film illuminates the complex life of a born entertainer, highlighting both her triumphs and failures. This is sure to be an informative film on the culture of celebrity and a pervasive personality making her mark. This screening will also be followed by a closing-night bash, officially ending this year’s festival.

While the above films are already surefire hits, the new directors competition will introduce the best up and coming filmmakers from around the globe. An array of first- and second-time directors are competing for this year's coveted New Directors Prize with films including Alamar (dir. Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio – Mexico), The Day God Walked Away (dir. Philippe van Leeuw – France/Belgium), and Susa (dir. Rusudan Pirveli – Georgia).

Entries into the World Cinema category include Cyrus, the new, mature film from mumblecore heroes the Duplass brothers starring Marissa Tomei, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill that was a hit at Sundance. Other highlights are Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (dir. Jan Kounen – France), Air Doll (dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda – Japan), and I Am Love (dir. Luca Guadagnino – Italy) starring Tilda Swinton.

In addition to the films, there’s a multitude of awards and tributes during the festival. This year’s recipients include actor Robert Duval (Peter J. Owens Award), director Walter Salles (Founder’s Directing Award), and screenwriter James Schamus (Kanbar Award). All three will be honored with screenings, clips, and live interviews discussing their work. Roger Ebert will also be honored with the Mel Novikoff Award for his work in influencing the public’s knowledge and appreciation of world cinema. Don Hertzfeldt will receive the prestigious Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award for his outstanding work in animation

One of the biggest changes to this year’s festival is the expansion of the Live & Onstage program. Rachel Rosen, director of programming for the San Francisco Film Society notes “live appearances by special guests are one of the most exciting aspects of the festival,” and she’s not lying.

This year there are some great interactive events with influential names in the business. A Conversation with T Bone Burnett has the Oscar- and Grammy-winning musician discussing his experience working on acclaimed films like O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Crazy Heart.

Those looking to laugh should check out A Drunken Evening with Derek Waters and Wholphin.Writer/actor Derek Waters will screen some of his acclaimed short films, including his internet sensation Drunk History series, followed by a conversation with Wholphin editor Brent Hoff .

These are just a few of the events and films being honored and screened at this year’s festival. It’s sure to be an exhausting event but it’s always an unforgettable experience and this year really ups that ante.

Official Website: http://fest10.sffs.org/