Sunday, April 29, 2007

LIVE! Direct from the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival!

LIVE! Direct from the San Francisco International Film Festival!

"San Fran-cis-co, Here I Come...Right back where I started from....."

The song also comes back to me, for good reason. I lived here in 1968-69, when as a refugee from the cultural wars of the era, the Haight Ashbury was a sanctuary for my young body, trying to stay alive - meaning, I was a war draft resister, and the Vietnam loomed large indeed.

The counter-culture was the lifeblood of countless other men, and women, my age. The Golden Gate - Park as well as Bridge - was an arc into another world both literal and figurative. I'll spare the descriptive events and escapades. That's a different post.

Returning to The City is always exhilerating. What's not to like? Other than the cold weather, that is. Being here is a return also to other roots. I believe I was conceived here. Nine months later I appeared, however, in Pennsylvania, as my mother traveled back to her home. That's also a different post, another time.

This time, with the irresistable opportunity to experience the Big 5-0 and the best cinematic communing in the country, upon my air arrival and set-down, it felt immediately like a home-coming and this time to seek a different refuge than my no-I won't-be-a-soldier's sanctuary from a generation earlier.

Key West has become a near tortuous year for me as my departure from the Tropic Cinema could not foretell what lay ahead. Yet it's also been liberating in some conventional ways, and profound ones, too. In the struggle, I discovered the wealth and value of who are my closest friends. But this post is about FILM and the CINEMA. Last week's Solares Hill publication has already covered the other materail with their full page interview with me.

And the Big 5-0 is indeed a watershed moment, an historic mark on the world of cinmea. I'll be posting the films I'll be seeing (about 30 scheduled). And observations, and conversations, and pictures. An exciting time to be alive! But I'm off to make the next screening....more/later!

Tuesday: Take Two //// Picturing politics at SFIFF50
(May 1, 2007)
By Robert Avila

A shot in veteran filmmaker Jon Else's documentary "Wonders Are Many" -- a behind the scenes look at composer John Adams and director-librettist Peter Sellars' opera Doctor Atomic -- makes visual reference to Picasso's "Guernica" as apt shorthand for art's awesome charge to speak for the voiceless in the age of total war and total exploitation. For an opera about the Manhattan Project and the birth of the atomic age, the Picasso quote is fitting enough. But Else's documentary, which screens this year as part of the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival not only broaches pressing questions about art's role in a time of threat and crisis; its very appearance here helps highlight the place of film festivals themselves as forums for political debate and discourse.

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