Thursday, April 21, 2016

59th SF Int'l Film Festival: A Few Suggestions

The highlight of my cinematic year begins tonight with the opening night of the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival at the Castro Theater and runs to May 5th. For what's playing, when and where and how to purchase tickets, click here.

As always, the San Francisco Film Society programmers have over-stuffed the calendar with a wide-ranging and eclectic selection of films and discussions and awards, just how I like it.

This is the first year the festival is not at the Sundance Kabuki. The main venues are the Castro Theater for big-ticket and bold-face name events, the Alamo Drafthouse is the location of most movies on one of their five screens, while the Roxie and Victoria Theaters host showings on their single screens and across the Bay, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is where to catch SFIFF programs.

I'm offering a few suggestions to SFIFF executives, venue hosts and audience members to hopefully enhance the festival experience for all. Let's get started:

1. At the Alamo, consider placing seating options in areas other than the bar with it's loud sounds and darkness, such as on the perch overlooking the entrance and grand staircase or the mezzanine level above the bar where DVD bins are located.

Offer mature cineastes attending the festival a chance to chat and rest before, between and after catching a doc or narrative feature.

One terrific element of the Sundance Kabuki multiplex was the option of hanging out on the second level in a common sofa area and the wine bar, or grabbing a nibble to eat, some conversation and a libation on the third level's eatery with bar stools.

Let's talk about the films!

2. Turn up the temperature in the Alamo's auditoriums. All of the times I've seen a film here, I've had to request the air-conditioning be lowered because I was so chilly even with a jacket or sweater on.

Just one screening, of Jacques Rivette's cult classic "Out1" and all thirteen-hours of it, maintained a comfortable temperature throughout that didn't merit turning down.

3. Post signs at the Alamo entrance informing bike-riding patrons that indoor parking is available on the mezzanine level. I expect bicycle parking to be a premium anywhere near this venue or the other theaters, so everything that can be done for bicycle security would be appreciated by this biker.

4. At all venues, patrons should express thanks to the many volunteers who maintain the lines, accommodate the disabled needing special seating, clean the theaters and answer various questions. Volunteers are key to this and all film festival. Let them know we love them!

That's enough for now. Every edition of the San Francisco International Film Festival is special and memorable, but this year will be especially unique with the festival establishing a welcome footprint in the Mission.

I'll see you at the films!


Stephen R. Stapleton said...

"Turn down the temperature in the Alamo's auditoriums."

Given your comments that follow, I think you mean to turn UP the temperature in the Alamo's auditorium or turn DOWN the AC. Turing down the temperature would make the place cooler, not warmer.

Unknown said...

Thanks for catching my mistake, Stephen. I've amended this post!