NEWS: Global Lens @ Great Star Chinatown

A moment in time: The Great Star Theater, in its early days of greatness

GFI hits the streets of SF’s Chinatown with a showcase of Chinese cinema at the iconic Great Star Theater…

San Francisco’s Chinatown—what’s not to love. It’s the oldest and most storied neighborhood of the city (with North Beach and Mission as close competitors for the title), and the site of many untold tales…

Such as the arrival of “Hong Kong cinema” in 60s, via the silvery screen of the Great Star Theater—the landmark arthouse cinema credited with bringing this iconic era of cinema to the States more than fifty years ago–and now experiencing a revival (following its almost near-extinction), and soon to be credited with GFI’s first showcase presentation of Chinese cinema in the city, ever:

[from Asian Week]The Global Film Initiative, in partnership with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), is pleased to announce the presentation of four award-winning Chinese films from the Global Lens Collection on Friday, November 30th and Saturday, December 1st at the historic Great Star Theater, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Continue reading NEWS: Global Lens @ Great Star Chinatown

FEATURE: Shooting the Past and Present of Albanian Cinema

Thomas Logoreci is a filmmaker, sometime journalist and occasional film festival programmer living and working in the Balkans.

Thomas Logoreci, co-writer of GFI grantee WORLD, discusses the evolution of cinema within an ever-changing landscape of Albania…

Thomas Logoreci here. I used to live in San Francisco. I produced and edited Caveh Zahedi’s Bay Area indie comedy I AM A SEX ADDICT which was released back in 2005. Five years later, I picked up and moved my entire life to the East European nation of Albania. I’m half-Albanian but owing to the country’s fifty years of North Korea-like communism, violent civil unrest in 1997 and the 1998-99 war in neighboring Kosovo, I did not get to Albania for the first time until 2005.

Even though I barely advanced my Albanian language skills, I ended up visiting the country several times, eventually earning a modest income rewriting scripts for some of the country’s foremost filmmakers. In 2008, I was asked to come back to the capital to program the country’s Tirana International Film Festival. During the frantic fest week, I met Iris Elezi, a talented cineaste who pitched me her script titled BOTA (the Albanian word for ’world’), which she intended to direct.

We ended up reshaping the story together – a group of outsiders working in a café at the edge of a haunted swamp cope

Continue reading FEATURE: Shooting the Past and Present of Albanian Cinema

MONTH IN REVIEW: Seasonal Changes

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge in summer.

“The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.” – not Mark Twain

June saw the start of San Francisco’s official “summer,” when the fog bank rolls in off Ocean Beach around 5pm and stays there until Noon the next day. Sometimes, it doesn’t burn off at all, which makes for a cold, blustery “summer” day that San Franciscans know well, and which begs the often-quoted and incorrectly attributed Mark Twain-ish phrase: “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.”

Continue reading MONTH IN REVIEW: Seasonal Changes

NEWS: Spend a special night of your USEFUL LIFE at the Castro Theatre!

GFI presents Federico Veiroj’s cineaste classic at San Francisco’s historic theatre, and then makes the film available online exclusively on Fandor!

The last time I made it out to the beautiful Castro Theatre was a little over a year ago, for a special screening of a newly restored 70mm print (!) of Hitchcock’s Vertigo (the Castro is the only San Francisco venue equipped to project this format). I know, I know… It’s a complete shame that I haven’t frequented the theatre more often, and I really have no excuse (other than the fact that I work too much, live in a not-so-convenient suburb, and have a rambunctious one-and-a half year-old at home). I mean, come on, it’s the CASTRO – San Francisco’s famous, historic movie palace – and it’s right in my backyard!

A USEFUL LIFE screens at the Castro Theatre on August 16th

Well, that all changes in a few weeks because on Thursday, August 16th, the Castro – as part of its month-long celebration of the theatre’s 90th anniversary – is screening Federico Veiroj’s still-wonderful A USEFUL LIFE. There’s no way I’m missing the chance to see this new classic in such a perfectly appropriate setting, and you shouldn’t either. And although the August

Continue reading NEWS: Spend a special night of your USEFUL LIFE at the Castro Theatre!

The Out-of-Towners

L-R: Granting & Distribution Coordinator, Angelica Dongallo, Filmmaker and GFI Film Board member, Gaston Kabore, Administrative Coordinator, Emma Rae Lierley

Administrative Coordinator Emma Rae Lierley on “keeping it local” with GFI’s global guests

‘Promoting cross-cultural understanding through cinema’ is an interesting endeavor in the digital age: most of our work happens at a stationary desk, firmly rooted in our San Francisco office, with new-fangled technology making all of it possible. And while we do take the occasional international trip (such as our recent excursion to Basque country!), we’re often required to be more home-body than jet-setter. Which is exactly why interacting with people outside of our office gives us different perspectives on the world–and why we get so excited when visitors come to our ‘neck of the woods.’

Last month, the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) brought new and old friends to the Bay Area. Paula Markovitch, director of The Prize and Anas El Baz, lead actor of Pegasus, both visited our neighbors on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, and gave audiences at MVFF a sneak preview of two standout films from Global Lens 2012–which has its official release in January.

The festival also paid tribute to our old friend and GFI Film Board Member Gaston Kabore with screenings

Continue reading The Out-of-Towners

THE IMAGE THREADS, a Feast for the “i”

East meets West as this Indian cyber adventure makes its West Coast premiere

A scene from Vipin Vijay's THE IMAGE THREADS

We’re pleased to announce that Vipin Vijay’s THE IMAGE THREADS (formerly titled THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY NET POTATO) will be screening as part of the 3rd i’s Ninth Annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival!

THE IMAGE THREADS received a GFI grant in 2008 and went on to screen at the São Paulo International Film Festival (New Filmmakers Competition) and the International Film Festival Rotterdam (In Competition). It is one of our more unusual films and definitely deserves a second (or third, or fourth) look. Read the review from Twitch below:

(via Twitch) What better country to make a film about the internet age than India, the largest IT labor exporting country? This serene, visual contemplation on the nature of the virtual world and finding one’s identity in it starts with an ironic quote: “I had a dream about reality. It was such a relief to wake up.” by a Polish aphorist Stanislaw J. Lec, which sets the tone of The Image Threads.

An IT professor named Hari, ‘pimping (in his own words)’ the information technology laborers to the US

Continue reading THE IMAGE THREADS, a Feast for the “i”

Closing Thoughts: Independent Theaters Take a Final Curtain Call

The Red Vic in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood (Photo courtesy of the Bay Citizen)

Art imitates life as San Francisco pays homage to an arthouse icon and A USEFUL LIFE

On Monday, July 25th, San Francisco’s iconic and eclectic Red Vic Movie House will roll its reels for the last time. After 31 years filled with unconventional programming, squeaky bench seating, and a spice rack filled with popcorn accompaniments, the theater’s first film, “Harold and Maude,” will become it’s last. It’s a sad day for film lovers in San Francisco.

Rumors of closure had been swirling since last year, but financial troubles and dwindling attendance numbers finally conquered the beloved movie house. Of course, just because it’s been a slow goodbye doesn’t make it any easier. In an interview with the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Red Vic collective member Claudia Lehan called the process “’kind of like doing a bit of grief counseling. People who you tell are really sad about it. I think for us we’re sad but we’re kind of at the acceptance stage…. It’s just a different world.’”

Continue reading Closing Thoughts: Independent Theaters Take a Final Curtain Call