Seattle honors Pacino, Ebert goes back to the future, Beijing blows it, and other film festival news
The Tribeca Film Festival will run through Saturday, but it's hardly the only action these days in the film-festival world. For instance: Seattle honors Pacino, Ebert goes back to the future, and Beijing blows it. A roundup:
Al Pacino, Ewan McGregor and sports-film director Warren Miller will be in the spotlight at the 37th Seattle International Film Festival, which announced its lineup of films, galas, tributes and special events on Thursday.
McGregor will receive the Golden Space Needle Award at a May 22 screening of the film "Beginners" (above). Miller will be given the Golden Space Needle for Lifetime Achievement on Wednesday, June 8, and Pacino will discuss his career at a special event on Saturday, June 11.
The Seattle festival is known for its length: in contrast to most festivals that clock in at around or just under two weeks, SIFF lasts almost a month, from May 19 through June 12, during which it will showcase a whopping 257 features and 184 shorts.
Many of the festival's marquee films have already shown elsewhere, from Justin Chadwick's Kenya-set drama "The First Grader," which was the People's Choice Award runner-up at Toronto, to Kevin Macdonald's YouTube doc "Life in a Day," which premiered at Sundance in January.
The festival will feature seven world premieres, including the documentaries "Sushi: The Global Catch" and "Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians."
North American premieres include "Killing Bono," the relatively true story of a childhood friend of the U2 singer, and the Italian crime drama "Angel of Evil."
Also on the schedule: a variety of Southeast Asian films presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and special screenings of Raul Ruiz's "Mysteries of Lisbon," Miranda July's "The Future" and Jay Roach's "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," which served as the festival's closing-night film a dozen years ago and will have a free outdoor screening at this year's fest.
The full list is available at www.SIFF.net.
While the Seattle Festival prepares to launch, the San Francisco International Film Festival is in full swing, with a lineup of foreign films and indies, and speakers ranging from "I'm Not There" producer Christine Vachon to "Cool Hand Luke" screenwriter Frank Pierson.
The most entertaining SFIFF dispatches are coming from Meredith Brody at Thompson on Hollywood: she'll tell you what films she likes ("A Useful Life," right, "Silent Souls") and doesn't like ("Hahaha," "Mind the Gap"), but you'll also learn about where she goes and who she talks to and what she eats, and about the woman applying malodorous unguent to her legs before a screening, or the theater with continual focus problems. (She's the arthouse Jeff Wells at a festival, only not usually as cranky or indignant.) Here's her latest entry.
It used to be called the Overlooked Film Festival, but these days the annual fest in Chicago goes by a simpler name: Ebertfest. The fest is programmed by critic Roger Ebert – who, says Matt Singer, "acts as a sort of one-man cinematic oversight committee" and "is dedicated to shining a light on great films that have unfairly fallen through the cracks."
You might argue that the opening-night attraction this year hasn't been truly overlooked for a while, but the original version of Fritz Lang's 1927 futuristic classic "Metropolis" was lost for years, and the film is seldom if ever seen with a live orchestra performing the score, the way the Alloy Orchestra did on Wednesday night. "Show me one modern blockbuster that can match 'Metropolis' for scale, scope, effects, action, themes, and sheer balls-out insanity," writes Singer. "You can't."
The film played on an opening-night double bill of sorts with the SXSW audience award winner "Natural Selection." IFC.com has the breakdown.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival got with the Oscars/Golden Globes/BAFTA program of announcing 2012 dates this week, which is fitting since the festival is always a showcase of Oscar hopefuls (like James Cameron, with Arnold Schwarzenegger at SBIFF in 2010, right). Next year's edition will begin on Thursday, January 26, two days after the announcement of Academy Award nominations, and run through Sunday, February 5, the day before the Oscar nominees luncheon.
The announcement came from SBIFF's executive director, Roger Durling, who'll be celebrating his 10th anniversary at the helm of the festival. The fest's board of directors will have a new president, though, as Douglas Stone assumes the position while longtime prez Jeff Barbakow moves into the chairman's seat.
Ticket packages go on sale on Saturday, though of course you won't know what films and programs you're buying tickets for until much later in the year. But if you buy sight unseen, you'll get a 25 percent discount until June 24. Info is available at www.sbfilmfestival.org.
Across the Pacific Ocean, meanwhile, the first Bejing International Film Festival has just concluded. If you missed it you shouldn't fret, according to Stephen Cremin at Film Business Asia. "There is a lack of information in either English or Chinese, events have been cancelled or rescheduled at the last minute, catalogues have been published late if at all, and there is still no printed festival schedule," he laments. Oh, and Chinese censors cut the lesbian sex scene from "Black Swan," too.
Cremin does think that the next major film festival in Asia will be in China, but he's guessing that it'll be June's Shanghai festival, not the Beijing event that he says was aimed more at government bureaucrats than film lovers. (Film Business Asia)
More film-fest news next Tuesday, when the Los Angeles Film Festival announces its lineup (and holds a free 25th anniversary screening of "Pretty in Pink" that night at LA Live) ….