As a filmmaker and a critic, Warren Sonbert knew exactly how movies worked on people — both emotionally and technically. And when a film wasn't proficient or adventurous enough, he didn't hesitate to walk out in the middle (or before the end of the first reel, in the case of V.I. Warshawski). Sonbert's own work earned plaudits around the world; he was honored with retrospectives, 10 years apart, at the prestigious Whitney and Museum of Modern Art in New York. From a broader perspective, his success also radiated glory on San Francisco's avant-garde filmmaking community. A few months ago, the Cinematheque announced a tribute to Sonbert on June 22 at Center for the Arts. Warren was supposed to attend, but he died May 31 at age 47 of complications from AIDS. We have the memory of his droll, feisty spirit and, of course, his films.
Some Kind of Hero
Congratulations and blessings are in order, as Pacific Film Archive director Edith Kramer receives the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government on June 15 at the PFA …. Shine that national spotlight over here, please: Ellen Bruno's sublime Satya: A Prayer for the Enemy airs nationally on PBS's P.O.V. series, a week after Deborah Hoffmann's Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter jump-starts the season June 13.
The Long Goodbye
Hate to spring it on you like this but, nearly three full years after my first column appeared in these pages, this marks the end of the line. Reel World has been canceled, as my editors have decided that the Weekly should be devoting more space to movie reviews. I intended Reel World to be consistently fun and occasionally edifying (OK, vice versa); I hope, in your mind, I succeeded. But don't take this as a definitive goodbye; I'm still committed to covering the Bay Area's vibrant and iconoclastic film community. So keep bringing the Junior mints.
And now, roll credits: Thanks to the pair of dimly remembered editors who asked me to originate this column three summers ago (although it would have been nice if they'd been more enthusiastic about directing readers this way). An unambivalent salute to Bill Goggins, the meticulous yet respectful editor who finessed my clauses while preserving my intent. I'm also mighty appreciative of a few key sources who provided a consistent stream of scoops and gossip. (It would be nice to give credit where credit is due, but I still need them. They know who they are.) It's been a great ride, from Moritsugu to Mrs. Doubtfire, from the Castro's cozy balcony to Tosca's shiny booths, from Coppola's foibles to Crumb's triumph. We'll be in touch.
By Michael Fox