Reel World

The decimated S.F. International Film Festival gets a new team of programmers

The Sorrow and the PityWith the recent departure of Doug Jones, every one of the programmers who assembled the 2001 S.F. International Film Festival lineup is gone. Whether you call it a housecleaning or a coincidence, the upshot is that Executive Director Roxanne Messina Captor is now the upper management old-timer -- with just nine months on the job. Fortunately, the trio of new programmers hired last week brings along plenty of experience and contacts.

Carl Spence was associate director of the Seattle International Film Festival for eight years, where our sources report he staked out a reputation as a connoisseur of films from Spain. Spence is also plugged into the worldwide lesbian and gay film community, which may portend more competition between the SFIFF and the S.F. Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (which takes place just six weeks later). Linda Blackaby has established relationships with the local film community, largely from a stint programming the S.F. International Asian American fest. Guest programmer Roger Garcia (with a title that suggests he's on board for the 2002 fest only) is a Hong Kong and Asian cinema maven and a Bay Area resident.

Instead of the hierarchy of a programming director and associates, Spence, Blackaby, and Garcia will comprise a "programming team," according to the press release. The clear implication is that Captor will also be part of that team, which is worrisome given her lack of knowledge of world cinema and avowed goal of increasing the festival's Hollywood wattage.

Last of the MohicansAnother single-screen movie house has gone to its celestial rest with Century Theaters' closing of the Cinema 21 on Chestnut. While it wasn't a movie house of great historical significance (like the long-gone Fox) or architectural splendor (like the Alhambra), once upon a time the Cinema 21 was an important neighborhood theater. Century continues to operate the Presidio on Chestnut and the Empire on West Portal, although I doubt the Presidio is long for this world. It's tough to get details from Century honchos; while the San Rafael-based chain was eager to announce plans in July for a 16-screen multiplex in "downtown Pleasant Hill," company reps don't return calls when a theater is shuttered. For the record, the Cinema 21's final booking was the infantile Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

My Brilliant CareerThe Mill Valley Film Festival (Oct. 4-14) screens no fewer than seven local features -- including Marc Lafia's Exploding Oedipus(Reel World, June 20), Rob Nilsson's Scheme C6, and Erica Jordan's In the Wake (RW, Oct. 25, 2000) -- and a doc by locals Rick Goldsmith and Abby Ginzberg, Everyday Heroes. Get show times at ... Zeum's recent financial troubles have forced the Film Arts Festival (Nov. 8-11) to shift its Thursday and Friday programs to the Balboa Theater. In an earlier setback, the Film Arts Foundation's annual showcase of the best new local films and videos was trimmed by a day because of budgetary constraints. ... Caroline Libresco, associate director of the Jewish Film Festival in the mid-'90s before a stint at the S.F. Int'l Film Festival and ITVS, recently joined the Sundance Film Festival as associate programmer. ... Saul Zaentz and Milos Forman premiered a director's cut of Amadeus at the Telluride Film Festival earlier this month. OK, but why? ... Veteran movie producer Stephen Ujlaki has been appointed professor and chair of the cinema department at S.F. State. According to the press release, "Ujlaki would like the department to get a little more "Hollywood.'" Wouldn't we all?

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