Sunday, May 08, 2016

SFIFF & Wknd Woof: 'Very Big Shot' Boys & Coppola

The San Francisco International Film Festival brought an eclectic array of films, in all genres and lengths to the Mission District for the just-concluded 2-weeks of cinemania, and many talented filmmakers to town for conversations with locals.

This post feeds two birds with one seed. It's about one fabulous episode of mine at the festival and there's Weekend Woof eye-candy from Lebanon on display too.

I met emerging Lebanese director Mir-Jean Bou-Chaaya, ripe old age of 26, and his producer brother Lucien Bou-Chaaya, all of 28, at the film lounge in a high-end clothing shoppe at Valencia and 21st Street and spoke with Mir-Jean for this video report.

The Bou-Chaaya brothers' movie "Very Big Shot" is a brash and youthful mashup of Middle East politics, criminal activities to survive, the shooting a phony film in Beirut as part of drug smuggling scheme - all served with a hot flame of comedy.

Some of the violence was jarring and didn't jibe with the hilarity, to my Western sensibilities, but the surprise ending was memorable and induced robust audience applause and cheers.

For queer viewers, especially those with bear-loving eyes, the cast and extras are quite pleasing to the eyes.

Neither Lucien, pictured, nor Mir-Jean are gay but, of course, have LGBT friends and are true allies. Joshing with them about putting these photos on a gay blog and that folks might get the idea that these handsome fellas were part of the queer tribe, the boys laughed.

Lucien, who's based in Paris, helps gays from the Middle East get married in France and avoid the hassles of applying for refugee or asylum status, gaining access to citizenship rights allowing them to stay in Europe. Needless to say, I thoroughly appreciated engaging with both brothers on many levels.

The Bou-Chaaya brothers met Francis Ford Coppola when "Very Big Shot" won the top award at the Marrakech Film Festival last year, of which "The Godfather" creator was head of the jury bestowing the honor. While in San Francisco, Lucien and Mir-Jean stopped by Coppola's restaurant in North Beach and enjoyed a bite to eat and dose of cinema chat. Good for them!

Thank you, programmers, publicists, staff and volunteers of the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival for this year's terrific edition and for bringing "Very Big Shot" and its creators to town.

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