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50th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

April 27, 2007 - May 10, 2007

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The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents films from the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival at the PFA Theater.

General admission for festival films at PFA is $12 per program; $9 for BAM/PFA and San Francisco Film Society members; $10 for seniors, disabled persons, and students. Please note that PFA's second-feature discount does not apply to these programs. Tickets are nonrefundable, and may not be exchanged. CineVoucher 10-Packs may not be redeemed at PFA.

Advance tickets for PFA screenings only are sold at the Berkeley Art Museum admissions desk (2626 Bancroft Way, daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and at the PFA Theater box office (starting one hour before the first show of the day). PFA tickets can also be purchased online at bampfa.berkeley.edu or by telephone at (510) 642-5249 up to one day before the program, for pickup at Will Call. Tickets for all festival venues, along with information about purchasing non-PFA tickets in person or by phone, are available from the festival website, http://fest07.sffs.org/.

On the day of the show, tickets can only be purchased at the venue of the screening; same-day tickets for PFA screenings can be purchased in person at the BAM admissions desk or PFA Theater box office.

Recorded daily PFA program information and updates can be heard by calling (510) 642-1124. For further ticket or program information about PFA screenings, please call (510) 642-1412.

Many screenings will feature in-person appearances by the filmmakers. All films are in their original language with English subtitles.

Program notes are excerpted from the festival Program Guide.

Friday, April 27, 2007
4:30 p.m. Opera Jawa
Siti and Setio's marital bliss is threatened by Ludiro's fiery writhings in Garin Nogroho's gorgeous postmodern musical—commissioned by Peter Sellars for his New Crowned Hope festival in honor of the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth—that updates an ancient Sanskrit epic with gamelan melodies and Indonesian dancing.

Friday, April 27, 2007
7:15 p.m. A Few Days Later . . .
Iranian writer-director-actress Niki Karimi presents a gorgeous minimalist portrait of a woman crushed by indecision. Graphic designer Shahrzad goes about daily life with apparent ease, but her surface stillness masks a maelstrom of weighty decisions she must make concerning her boyfriend, father, and son.

Friday, April 27, 2007
8:55 p.m. The Old, Weird America: Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music
Rani Singh's jubilant documentary celebrates the enduring legacy of underground culture hero Harry Smith's influential collection of blues and country classics, brought to life in concert footage featuring Elvis Costello, Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Emmylou Harris, Philip Glass, Lou Reed, and other music greats.

Saturday, April 28, 2007
1:30 p.m. All in This Tea
Les Blank and Gina Leibrecht's absorbing documentary follows adventurer and world-renowned tea importer David Lee Hoffman as he travels through China in pursuit of the best handcrafted teas. After seeing this film, you'll never drink a cup of tea the same way again.

Saturday, April 28, 2007
3:30 p.m. Mukhsin
A twelve-year-old Malaysian boy's friendship with a sharp-tongued, assertive little girl moves awkwardly and wistfully into first love in this gently comic prequel to Yasmin Ahmad's Sepet (SFIFF 2005) and Gubra (SFIFF 2006).

Saturday, April 28, 2007
5:30 p.m. Vanaja
The spirited young daughter of a poor fisherman, Vanaja hopes to become a great dancer. Flirtation with her landlady's son soon hurls her up against the walls of class, gender, and family. From India, a powerful coming-of-age film, both modern and graceful.

Saturday, April 28, 2007
8:30 p.m. At the Edge: New Experimental Cinema
Shifting from details of the natural world to incisive analyses of historic events, this program examines the beautiful and the horrific with an artist's eye. The nine experimental works range from collage and animation to aerial and stereoscopic views.

Sunday, April 29, 2007
1:00 p.m. The Devil Came on Horseback
The genocide in Darfur is examined in this vital documentary focusing on ex–U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle, who takes a job as an unarmed military observer in Sudan, where as a witness and activist he uses his camera to convey horrible truths.

Sunday, April 29, 2007
3:30 p.m. Souvenirs
An unemployed film director learns that his father may have left "souvenirs" with Dutch girls while he served in the legendary Jewish Brigade in World War II. This road movie follows the father's earlier path and uncovers surprising truths and consequences.

Sunday, April 29, 2007
5:30 p.m. Kevin Brownlow: Introduction to Silents
Silent-film archivist and preservationist Kevin Brownlow—recipient of this year's Mel Novikoff Award—will present a lecture on the pre-talkie era and screen excerpts from silent gems including Broncho Billy's Adventure, Suspense, The Blue Bird, and One Week.

Sunday, April 29, 2007
8:15 p.m. How Is Your Fish Today?
Ruminating on urban isolationism in a rapidly expanding China, Xiaolu Guo's debut narrative feature follows a Beijing-based screenwriter as he obsessively rewrites a rejected script about a murderer on the run.

Monday, April 30, 2007
7:00 p.m. Bamako
Set in the Malian capital of its title, Abderrahmane Sissako's passionate polemic centers on a show trial in which the plaintiff, "African society," argues against exploitation by the defendant, the World Bank.

Monday, April 30, 2007
9:10 p.m. Wonders Are Many
Award-winning documentarian Jon Else provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the making of Doctor Atomic, an opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer created in 2006 for the San Francisco Opera by composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
7:00 p.m. Private Fears in Public Places
Falling snow is not the only reason for the chill in wintertime Paris, as despair mingles with hope for six lonely, loosely connected people searching for love and human connection in French trickster Alain Resnais's latest beguilement.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
9:15 p.m. Emma’s Bliss
Diagnosed with a fatal disease, Max impulsively leaves Germany to live out the brief remainder of his life on a beach in Mexico. Instead, he crashes his stolen car into a pig farm run by Emma, a wise seductress whose unique perspective on life and death helps Max achieve the ultimate liberation.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007
7:00 p.m. Forever
Eternally curious documentarian Heddy Honigmann wanders through Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris and interviews tear-streaked visitors to the tourist-mobbed graves of artists and icons such as Gertrude Stein, Yves Montand, and Jim Morrison.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007
9:15 p.m. Congorama
In this existential comedy, Belgian inventor Michel learns he is adopted and journeys to Quebec to find his biological family. His quest sets off a cosmic chain of unlikely and humorous events that will change his fortunes forever.

Thursday, May 3, 2007
7:00 p.m. Ghosts of Cité Soleil
This riveting documentary focuses on two gang leaders in Haiti's notoriously lawless slum Cité Soleil in 2004. Caught in the middle of national and local struggles—and a love triangle—both seek escape in rapping. Wyclef Jean, perhaps Haiti's most famous export, appears in the film and provides original music.

Thursday, May 3, 2007
9:10 p.m. Fay Grim
Hal Hartley revisits characters from his indie opus Henry Fool in this delightfully provocative parable of politics and selfless love starring Parker Posey as the titular heroine on a quest to discover the "unbelievable truth" about that fool Fool.

Friday, May 4, 2007
7:00 p.m. Daratt
In this fable-like gem from Chad, a young man seeks to avenge his father's murder in the aftermath of the country's civil war but finds that justice has complicated consequences when he befriends the man responsible for the crime.

Friday, May 4, 2007
9:00 p.m. Fish Dreams
In this beautifully detailed tragicomedy, 17-year-old Jusce dreams of sailing far from the no-future fishing village where he works illegally and dangerously as a deep sea diver, if only he can woo his telenovela-addicted girlfriend Ana away from her giant-screen TV.

Saturday, May 5, 2007
1:00 p.m. A Walk to Beautiful
In this compassionate documentary, pubescent girls in rural Ethiopia are married off and give birth as young as age twelve, with horrifying consequences. Ostracized because they suffer from bladder leaks, these young women make a grueling journey to be healed at an Addis Ababa hospital.

Saturday, May 5, 2007
3:30 p.m. Murch
There are film editors, and then there's Walter Murch. Widely considered the world's greatest editor for his cutting of Apocalypse Now, The English Patient, and many other masterworks, he's a generous and erudite man, eager to share and explicate his passion for film in this revealing documentary.

Saturday, May 5, 2007
5:45 p.m. Hana
A samurai movie from the director of After Life and Nobody Knows. Filled with Kore-eda's characteristic moments of quiet beauty, this tale of a hapless samurai seeking vengeance but finding acceptance is a celebration of pacifism and a tribute to Japanese cinema history.

Saturday, May 5, 2007
8:15 p.m. Colossal Youth
Pedro Costa's ongoing collaboration with Cape Verdean immigrants in a Lisbon slum reaches a poetic apex in this minimalist narrative that examines real struggles of real people. Although elliptical and often challenging, the film engages interest with its sympathetic rendering of dislocated and disillusioned souls.

Sunday, May 6, 2007
3:00 p.m. The Sugar Curtain
An intimate portrait of the Cuban Revolution—its jubilant promise and sobering reality—as seen through the eyes of the generation born and raised in its midst during the '70s and '80s.

Sunday, May 6, 2007
5:15 p.m. Flanders
French provocateur Bruno Dumont revisits the geographic and psychological territory of his masterpiece Humanité in this startlingly austere war film set in northern France and an unnamed Middle Eastern country, and more concerned with the ambiguities of human behavior than topical politics.

Sunday, May 6, 2007
8:00 p.m. Gardens in Autumn
In Otar Iosseliani's hilarious satire, middle-aged French minister Vincent loses his job, his apartment, and his wife. Luckily, he has a rich, doting old mother (Michel Piccoli in drag), and decides to reacquaint himself with old friends, former mistresses, his passion for music, and the pleasures of alcohol.

Monday, May 7, 2007
7:00 p.m. On Fire
Heated up in the Provence summer, 15-year-old Livia madly pursues a fireman almost three times her age. The romantic fantasies of careless youth lead to tragic consequences in director Claire Simon's perceptive study of adolescence at its most infernal.

Monday, May 7, 2007
9:10 p.m. These Girls
Poignant and shocking at once, Tahani Rached's documentary pays tribute to the complicated lives of Cairo, Egypt's street youth. Forced to beg or con their way through life, the girls form a tender sisterhood that protects them from unwanted sexual advances, violent families, and sometimes even themselves. With short Rise and Shine.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007
7:00 p.m. Strange Culture
Tilda Swinton appears in Lynn Hershman Leeson's unconventional documentary about Steve Kurtz, a conceptual artist falsely accused of bioterrorism. The "strange culture" investigated here is one of art, dissent, and the Justice Department's refusal to admit error.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007
9:05 p.m. Fresh Air
With the eye of a painter and the heart of a poet, Ágnes Kocsis crafts a wonderfully poignant story about the surprising connections between a mother and daughter in Budapest, where the oddest things happen in a minuscule bathroom office.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007
7:00 p.m. Stories from the North
Eight pastoral vignettes make up this leisurely and benevolent stroll through Thailand's rural north country, where time slows down and the changing seasons dictate the day's chores from dawn to dead of night amid a lovely and constantly changing landscape.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007
8:50 p.m. Agua
With striking camerawork, innovative sound effects, and a dramatic twist, this minimalist tale of two Argentine swimmers at different places in their careers plunges viewers into the mental variance, physical fatigue, and sensory awareness of the long-distance athlete.

Thursday, May 10, 2007
7:00 p.m. Times and Winds
Against a backdrop of workaday life in a rural Turkish village guided by calls to prayer and seasonal change, three children on the cusp of adolescence grapple with growing pains stemming from the inevitable passage of time.

Thursday, May 10, 2007
9:10 p.m. Love for Sale: Suely in the Sky
A young Brazilian woman turns to prostitution to support her newborn baby. But far from being a depressing or cautionary tale about victimhood or social injustice, Karim Aïnouz's feisty follow-up to Madame Sãta (SFIFF 2003) is an unapologetically sexy ode to women's liberation.