The Big Picture George Lucas isn't the only big-name Bay Area moviemaker heading to the Presidio. The San Francisco Film Center, envisioned as a hub for the local feature film community, is rushing toward completion of its first stage, with tenants prepping to move in Jan. 1. The anchor tenant is the San Francisco Film Society, presenter of the annual S.F. International Film Festival and numerous other events during the year (such as the S.F. leg of the Max Ophuls retrospective at the Castro next month). In addition to the Film Society offices, the new center will house the Bud Levin Archive, the vast collection of posters, stills, and other memorabilia accrued during the festival's 40-plus years.
Project manager and Film Society board member Melanie Bloom wouldn't divulge the identity of the center's other high-profile "local film-related entities," saying she wished to preserve tenants' privacy (by heading off hordes of paparazzi, tourists, and job-seekers). But it's a cinch that Phil Kaufman will move his offices there, since Bloom confirms that the Film Center "was Phil's idea and he's been an active part since day one." Methinks the prospect of a 10-minute commute from their Seacliff digs will be sufficient enticement for Robin and Marcia Garces Williams to set up a production office. Add their good buddy Chris Columbus to the list, and maybe Wayne Wang, Joan Chen, a couple of sound editors, a casting agent, and a few producers. By the way, the center will also house three editing suites and a 25-seat screening room to run both film and video dailies; those facilities will be available on a month-to-month basis for Hollywood features shooting in town.
In addition to 10,000 parking spaces, the former military base also boasts a 550-seat theater -- at least that'll be the capacity after next year's renovation (and the installation of modern seating). Rumors aplenty are going around, but Bloom will only say, "A number of people have been over here looking at the theater for a number of purposes." Festival screenings are a given, and the Film Society has more ideas in the works for after it moves into the Film Center. Executive Director Amy Leissner says, "We plan to expand our outreach as a result of being there," and to that end the Film Society kicks off its first annual fund-raising campaign later this month.
The new Castro calendar features a ravishing new print of Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven (shot almost entirely at golden hour by the late Nestor Almendros). Also on tap is a two-week Thanksgiving run of Hitch's Dial M for Murder (1954) in two-strip 3-D, followed at long last by the restored print of Renoir's unparalleled Grand Illusion (1937). Why did the geniuses at the Sunday Datebook run a Newsday feature last month about a film that won't open here until Dec. 3? Oh, that inscrutable Chronicle logic. ... Don't curse Saul Zaentz -- listed by the trades as one of the executive producers -- for The Lord of the Ringstrilogy that starts shooting next month in New Zealand. Zaentz has nothing to do with that boondoggle. ... The S.F. Cinematheque season starts Oct. 1 with "Whatever It (Fuckin') Takes," a tribute to no-budget filmmaking (with a nod to welfare reform to boot). Bring food stamps or a film that cost less than $25 to produce or acquire and admission is free. ... Best wishes for a speedy recovery to ITVS Executive Director Jim Yee, a relentless campaigner for integrity and diversity in public television.