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Best Local Film Programmer San Francisco 2003 - Joel Shepard

Shepard is an aficionado of outré cinema, from the '70s sexploitation epics of no-budget queen Doris Wishman to the baroque gore of horror maestro Dario Argento, from Charles Burnett's overlooked tales of black city life to British experimentalist John Maybury's gay fantasias. Although you expect to find cult curiosities and bizarre B-movies at the Werepad or the Roxie, Shepard's venue is the upscale though hardly staid gallery environment of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. By adding a steady stream of old and new music-themed documentaries to the mix, he's further plugged a younger audience into YBCA. While the film program frequently pushes the boundaries of what's considered appropriate in a public institution, the setting lends the more offbeat offerings a certain dignity that (mostly) rescues them from hipster irony and seen-it-all snickers. Shepard's taste also encompasses important new works from Iran, Senegal, South Korea, and other countries beyond the ken of Miramax, establishing Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as the pre-eminent downtown showcase for film.

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