Raise a glass to Film Quarterly, hitting the streets this month with its 40th anniversary issue. Founding Editor Ernest Callenbach launched the Berkeley-based film journal as the French New Wave and cinema verite erupted and just before film studies became a hot topic on university campuses -- though current Editor Ann Martin remarks with undue modesty, "There is not necessarily any cause and effect here, perhaps only serendipity."
FQ published all the major film critics and essayists of a previous generation, including Kael, Knight, Sarris, Mekas, Kauffmann, Sontag, and Richie, while in recent years Paul Schrader, Todd Gitlin, and other deep thinkers have filled the magazine's pages. Callenbach helmed the journal for 32 years, establishing its trademark blend of reflective reconsiderations of forgotten films and directors and dispatches on the nuts and bolts of current productions. FQ's niche, says Martin, is "the middle ground between esoteric, scholarly journals and the more popular or populist, though eminently weighty, publications such as Sight and Sound and Film Comment."
Howard the Duck
Reel World could care less, but maybe you do: The two-minute trailer for Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace surfaces in theaters this Friday, Nov. 20 (along with the carefully guarded one-sheet). The bluescreen extravaganza will open next year in more theaters than any independent film in history. Say what? Independent? Sure. Here's George Lucas, delivering the keynote address in Sydney last week at the annual conference of the Screen Producers Association of Australia: "The reality is, there is Hollywood and the rest of us, and we should band together and help promote each other so we can move up independently of Hollywood."
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
The Film Arts Festival set a record with nine sellouts (in just five days), including Cauleen Smith's Drylongso at the Castro. Tickets were snapped up so fast for Barbara Sonneborn's Vietnam documentary Regret to Inform that a second screening was added. ... Following a Fellini series earlier this year, a major retrospective of Michelangelo Antonioni's films arrives at the Castro in January. No other country comes close to Italy in preserving and promoting its national cinema. ... Our sincere condolences to the family of Robin Eickman, longtime director of the S.F. Film and Video Arts Commission. Donations may be sent to the Robin Eickman Scholarship for Cinema Studies at the S.F. State University Foundation, 1640 Holloway Ave., S.F., CA 94132. We'll miss Robin dearly, especially when we're enduring another pointless and boring Film Commission meeting.