George Gund III (1937–2013)

Festival Preview: SFFS-Supported Films at Sundance 2013

We're are getting so antsy to see the premieres of these five films that the San Francisco Film Society has supported through Filmmaker360 grants and fiscal sponsorship at Sundance 2013's U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions! For those who will be making the snowy trek and for those of us who won't, watch interviews and previews below.


directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson
2011 SFFS Documentary Film Fund grant winner:  $25,000 for postproduction

Sundance 2013, U.S. Documentary

This intimate documentary follows the 12-year journey of two African-American families pursuing the promise of opportunity through the education of their sons.


directed by Zachary Heinzerling
2011 SFFS Documentary Film Fund grant winner: $50,000 for postproduction

Sundance 2013, U.S. Documentary

This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband's assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.


directed by Ryan Coogler
Spring 2012 SFFS/KRF Grant winner: $100,000 for production
Fall 2012 SFFS/KRF Grant winner: $100,000 for postproduction
SFFS Off the Page script workshop, April 2012

Sundance 2013, U.S. Dramatic

Fruitvale is the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of 2008.



directed by Jacob Kornbluth
Currently enrolled in SFFS Project Development program

Sundance 2013, U.S. Documentary

In this timely and entertaining documentary, noted economic-policy expert Robert Reich distills the topic of widening income inequality, and addresses the question of what effects this increasing gap has on our economy and our democracy.


directed by Shaul Schwarz
2012 SFFS Documentary Film Fund grant winner: $20,000 for postproduction

Sundance 2013, U.S. Documentary

An examination of Mexican drug cartels’ influence in pop culture on both sides of the border as experienced by an LA narcocorrido singer dreaming of stardom and a Juarez crime scene investigator on the front line of Mexico’s Drug War.

Office Therapy: It's All in the Details

In the latest installment of the Cathers show (does it ever end?), SFFS's Director of Operations Sarah Cathers discusses making your workspace a place you like to be. (Using her own office as an example, of course.) Roll over for her commentary!

This show is gonna sine your pitty on the runny kine

Before Louis C.K. became a household name, he wrote and directed what is arguably one of the most underrated films of all time. We are excited to announce that we'll be co-presenting this rarely exhibited, highly divisive comedy spectacular at the glorious Castro Theater in conjunction with SF Sketchfest this February 8th at 10pm.

We hope that you'll join us and our friends at Sketchfest and enjoy An Evening with Pootie, featuring a special appearance by Pootie Tang himself. See the video below for our reaction when the co-presentation was solidified. Sa da tay!

Best Jams from SFFS Films 2012

What else do you need to know? Turn up the volume and enjoy!


  1. Tommy (SFIFF55)
  2. Buster Keaton Shorts w/ TuneYards (SFIFF55)
  3. Lola Versus (SFIFF55)
  4. Sound of Noise (Film Society Cinema)
  5. The Intouchables (SFIFF55)
  6. Roadie (Film Society Cinema)
  7. House of Pleasures (Film Society Cinema)
  8. Catechism Cataclysm (Film Society Cinema)

Uplifting-Except-When-It-Isn't/No-Movies-Explicitly-Named 2012 End of Year List

Uplifting-Except-When-It-Isn't/No-Movies-Explicitly-Named 2012 End of Year List

by Sean Uyehara

1. Most confusing thing you can say to other human beings: 2012 was awesome!

2. The craziest news story this year: Giant meningitis-causing snail invasion in Florida.

3. Two fantastic TV shows that premiered in 2012: I’ll break my own rule right away by mentioning two things by name. Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell and Key and Peele. Bell, with “Laughter Against the Machine” allied with the Occupy movement in 2011, which one would think leads to mainstream career suicide. Instead, it (and many other activities) helped to propel Bell to a TV deal backed by Chris Rock. Plus, the show is smart and insightful. Something good happened in the world! I don’t know much about the origins of Key and Peele (Mad TV?), but that show is often terrifically funny.

Read More

You Had To Be There: My Top 10 Memories from SFIFF55

by Rachel Rosen

4/19: It's On

photo by Pamela Gentile

Opening Night Post Screening Q&A. I love it when post-screening Q&A’s don’t go as planned. I would call this one an even draw between Benoit Jacquot, director of Farewell, My Queen and interpreter Natacha Ruck.

4/20: Marilyn Embarrassment

photo by Pamela Gentile

Our festival KinoTek presentation of the work of  Karolina Sobecka included Pornographic Pursuit 2, a film loop of Marilyn Monroe disrobing that only runs to completion if gallery visitors jog in place. A trio of young women wanted to experience the art but, due to embarrassment, jogged avidly facing away from the projected image.  (Sadly, We only have a picture of the piece being experienced with the more common facing-the-image method.)

4/22: Fire Drill!

photo by Pamela Gentile

I know a fire alarm should not necessarily be a festival highlight, but thankfully not a single film was on the screen at the time.  Our festival operations staff got to show their stuff and what could have been a disaster turned into an impromptu 15-minute street event.

4/23: TuneYards and Buster

photo by Pamela Gentile

I got to experience this one as a regular audience member. Just an all-round great night of cinema and music.

4/26: Award Winners and Cows

photo by Pamela Gentile

What did Award recipient Kenneth Branagh do during the day before the Film Society’s Awards Night Gala? He went to see the Swedish documentary Women with Cows.  And he liked it. And he talked about it on the radio the next day.

4/28: Men of Cinema

photo by Pamela Gentile

Some of our favorite men of cinema turned out to honor well-loved “man of cinema” and Novikoff Award recipient Pierre Rissient, including the Film Society’s Ted Hope (who managed to evade the camera).

4/28: We Are the World

photo by Robert Jerome

Apparently the Bay Area has a large number of expatriates from the remote Azores island of Corvo depicted in our documentary award-winning film It’s the Earth Not the Moon. Here are some of them who turned up for the film’s Pacific Film Archive screening in Berkeley.

5/1: Hometown Heroes

photo by Tommy Lau

The Waiting Room Q&A. I love a huge hometown screening, especially when it gave the audience a chance to show their enthusiasm to documentary subjects who are probably too busy helping patients to feel the love at a lot of festival screenings.

5/2: Best. Filmmaker. Lunch. Ever.

Only the Young’s Garrison Saenz and Kevin Conway got to experience San Francisco’s ornate Palace Hotel. Plus, Golden Slumbers’ Davy Chou hooked up an invite to Magic Mountain from Kevin.

5/3: Hometown Heroes, Part II
Journey’s Arnel Pineda gave us a little a cappella treat to ring out the festival.

Bonus: Favorite Festival Sweater

And the winner is... Davy Chou!

Rachel Rosen is Director of Programming at the Film Society.

Cathers' Conceptual Conspiracy Compendium: 7 Films to Get You Through the End Times

by Sarah Cathers

Are you bummed out we're all still alive? Us too. We were hoping you'd all be gone by now. Our post-apocalyptic optimist and resident pentagrandma Sarah Cathers has compiled a seven film conceptual conspiracy compendium for you to unravel as we wait for the next acapulcopacalipstick. (Pro tip: play this blog post backwards for hidden messages!)

Altered States (1980) dir. Ken Russell

This movie is for those that want to transcend but can’t wait for that pesky little baktun to turn. Of course, William Hurt was going through the act of DE-evolution to become one with the light, but the Mayan calendar is cyclical isn’t it? So rewinding or fast-forwarding, you can probably still reach the same place. Are we not men?

Assessment:  Not QUITE the Age of Aquarius, but switching from human matter to conscious light is nothing to OHM at.

Transformation Rating: Drugs

Ancient Aliens Scale:

Holy Mountain (1973) dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky

Like 42 films in one, you think you are going to trip your balls off, but shit gets real narrative and you realize you are getting a little lesson regarding your assumptions of the higher plane.

Assessment: This movie ends up being for those people at NASA who made that video set to air on 12/22/2012, poo-pooing that the world hasn’t ended and you need to chill out.  Let Jodorwsky and NASA call the WAHmbulance for you.

Transformation Rating:  Religion. No, Tarot. No, Science, No, MOVIES!

Ancient Aliens Scale: 0

Unarius: The Arrival (1969) Unarius Academy of Science

Well, this is billed as an educational video so I guess it pretty much speaks for itself. The Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science, ummm, Foundation was created by some fucking Californians who told everyone they were archangels that went on clairvoyant poetic journeys into past lives and aliens that were somehow tied together. They promised alien landings but haven’t delivered. Yet.

Assessment: Could very well end up welcoming our space brothers today so they can answers all of life’s big questions for us. Maybe we can ask Zan why he was such a dick.

Transformation Rating: Cult

Ancient Aliens Scale: 7.5

Zardoz (1974) dir. John Boorman

Shows just how boring immortality and enlightenment can be until a sexy savage shows up on the scene to shake things up a bit in his notoriously revealing adult diaper. The Beyond 1984, Beyond 2001, Beyond Love, Beyond Death tag line shows how post-apocalyptic this truly is. Zed (not to be confused with Zan) gets transported by a giant replica of Klaus Kinksi’s head to go on a journey to see the man behind the curtain.

Assessment: After all this enlightenment we have been trying to attain, the coolest thing to do is just grow old and die. Being an alien is too safe these days.

Transformation Rating: Future Aliens

Ancient Aliens Scale: 4

Xanadu (1980) dir. Robert Greenwald

Listen, if everyone is going around linking mythologies: gods, aliens and ancient civilizations, then lets get Xanadu in on this shit.  I mean, with all of this talk of ancient civilizations having sex with gods to produce the human race that thusly invents calendars and language (thanks to their alien/god overlords/buddies) it’s surprising that it took until 1980 for anyone to make a proper roller skating love story musical on the subject.

Assessment: Human time is still utterly confusing to the gods. No amount of calendars can help them figure it out. But one Olympian muse sets out to change all that.

Transformation Rating: Will she or wont she?

Ancient Aliens Scale: 5

Stargate (1994) dir. Roland Emmerich

A portal is found in Egypt (which is really just the poor man's Yucatan) that basically turns the concept of God on its head and shows that they were a bunch of sneaky aliens POSING as gods so they could have sex with our women and set up an illicit slave trade wormhole.

Assessment: Late breaking knowledge of alien interference from the past bums everyone out when they realize there is no such thing as God and Ra is just another shitty human, but in space.

Transformation Rating: More human than human

Ancient Aliens Scale: 9

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) dir. Steven Spielberg

Precedes the Ancient Aliens meme by 2 years and basically scooped the HISTORY CHANNEL by making an action-adventure movie based on the fiction of Zecariah Sitchin. They do one better by adding the search for a goddamn psychic alien crystal skull.

Assessment: This movie has EVERYTHING: Soviet era Russkies, “Warehouse 51,” Peruvian rainforests with tiny mad tribesmen, long abandoned cities, temples that turn into spaceships. Why this movie wasn’t released today is BEYOND ME.

Transformation Rating: Wet Dream

Ancient Aliens Scale:  100

Sarah Cathers is Director of Operations at the San Francisco Film Society. She is FORBIDDEN from choosing the movies we exhibit. If you're cool with typos, check out her blog at