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51st San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

April 25, 2008 - May 8, 2008

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The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents films from the 51st San Francisco International Film Festival at the PFA Theater.

General admission for festival films at PFA is $12.50 per program; $10 for BAM/PFA and San Francisco Film Society members; $11 for students, seniors, and disabled persons. 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, www.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 adapted from the festival Program Guide.

Friday, April 25, 2008
6:30 p.m. One Hundred Nails
Italian master Ermanno Olmi’s final narrative feature pits religious orthodoxy and book knowledge against spiritual humanism and direct experience as a philosophy professor nails academic life to the floor and moves to live among the people.

Friday, April 25, 2008
8:30 p.m. Two Ladies
Philippe Faucon and Jean-Bernard Marlin in Person. A devout Muslim matriarch and her free-spirited daughter form an unlikely bond with a strong-willed Jewish widow in Algerian-French director Philippe Faucon’s warm, wise celebration of family, friendship, and kosher clash. With short Thick Skinned.

Friday, April 25, 2008
8:30 p.m. Two Ladies


Saturday, April 26, 2008
12:30 p.m. Flow: For Love of Water
Maude Barlow and Steven Starr in Person. The resource whose scarcity most threatens our future isn’t oil—it’s water. This crucial documentary shows how access to a life-giving liquid is inextricably, disastrously linked to the flow of capital, while profiling the activists who are swimming against the tide.

Saturday, April 26, 2008
3:00 p.m. Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts
Scott Hicks and Susanne Preissler in Person. Through interviews with Philip Glass’s friends, family, and collaborators as well as glimpses of his professional and personal life, this engaging documentary paints a fascinating portrait of one of the world’s most famous and controversial composers.

Saturday, April 26, 2008
5:45 p.m. Solitary Fragments
A single mother moves to Madrid, developing a circle of acquaintances whose intertwined daily lives are minutely observed in this disarmingly naturalistic tapestry, suddenly and shockingly torn apart by a terrorist attack. Winner of Spain’s best film and director awards.

Saturday, April 26, 2008
8:15 p.m. Calcutta My Love
Young Animesh comes to Calcutta to study but finds his life oscillating between the love of the beautiful Madhabilata and his dedication to a radical political movement in this richly detailed window on a turbulent period in the making of modern India.

Sunday, April 27, 2008
1:30 p.m. Forbidden Lie$
Best-selling author Norma Khouri is exposed as a fraud, but where is the line between truth and fiction? Is her campaign against “honor killing” sincere? This thrilling investigation reveals deepening layers of politics, profit, scandal, and spin.

Sunday, April 27, 2008
3:45 p.m. Latent Argentina
Fernando Solanas documents how his country, rich in natural resources and intellectual capital, has been pillaged by multinationals and trapped in a state of underdevelopment, making an impassioned call to the country’s youth to recover the “latent Argentina.”

Sunday, April 27, 2008
6:00 p.m. Leave Her to Heaven
Introduced by Schawn Belston. Intoxicating Gene Tierney (Laura) is the femme fatale par excellence in this astounding Technicolor noir classic, now beautifully restored, about a young novelist (Cornel Wilde) whose new bride’s extreme jealousy plunges their nuptial heaven into hellish depths of psychic disorder.

Sunday, April 27, 2008
8:30 p.m. You, the Living
This deadpan, pre-apocalyptic comedy of alienation and interdependence plays out through a series of elegantly composed, tangentially linked tableaux. Bypassing neorealism and absurdism, Swedish director Roy Andersson employs nonprofessionals and a fixed camera to achieve a poignant “trivialism.”

Monday, April 28, 2008
6:30 p.m. Traveling with Pets
An unloved wife finds her colorless world turning remarkably brighter when her husband suddenly expires in this graceful look at a woman’s midlife awakening—a Moscow International Film Festival grand prize winner and rare example of Russian feminist cinema.

Monday, April 28, 2008
9:00 p.m. Sleep Dealer
In this ambitious and topical sci-fi film set in the near future, a youngster from a remote Mexican village relocates to Tijuana, where he gets a job working “virtually” by having a set of nodes implanted in his body.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
6:30 p.m. The Romance of Astrea and Celadon
Andy Gillet in Person. A dashing shepherd and a beautiful maiden find romance fraught with misunderstanding and doomed by fate in the great director Eric Rohmer’s possibly final film, a whimsical and more than fitting farewell to a lifetime of star-crossed, verbose, ever-so-lovely lovers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
8:45 p.m. In a Lonely Place: New Experimental Cinema
Katherin McInnis in Person. Shifting from the public space of amusement parks to the intimacies of home, seven formally inventive films reveal the emotional resonance of simple objects and familiar places and remind us that one can simultaneously mourn and celebrate the past.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
6:30 p.m. Vasermil
Three soccer-playing, not-so-neighborly teens—a racist pizza boy, an Ethiopian Israeli, and a sullen Russian émigré—face a critical match and a no-future world in this vibrant Israeli Mean Streets, the Jerusalem Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize winner.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
8:55 p.m. Mock Up on Mu
Craig Baldwin in Person. Notorious Bay Area kino-renegade and culture jammer Craig Baldwin tops his earlier found-footage operas Spectres of the Spectrum and Sonic Outlaws with this rapid-fire pulp serial–cum–political tract on postwar California’s biggest hits: the military, Disney, and Scientology.

Thursday, May 1, 2008
6:30 p.m. Ezra
This intense drama about the life of a child soldier in Sierra Leone’s civil war takes us from his abduction to his eventual rescue and rehabilitation. Winner of the Grand Prize at Fespaco, Africa’s leading film festival.

Thursday, May 1, 2008
8:45 p.m. A Girl Cut in Two
Genre master Claude Chabrol does it again with this social satire/psychological thriller, inspired by the murder of Gilded Age architect and womanizer Stanford White, about a woman caught between a jaded author and the psychopathic heir to a family fortune.

Friday, May 2, 2008
6:30 p.m. Ballast
In the majestic landscape of the Mississippi Delta, a story unfolds about the repercussions of a suicide within a poor family in a small town.

Friday, May 2, 2008
8:50 p.m. The Man from London
Hungarian master of metaphysical melancholy Béla Tarr (Sátántangó, Werckmeister Harmonies) ventures deep into the shadows of film noir in this stately, stunningly photographed adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel, featuring an intense performance by Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton.

Saturday, May 3, 2008
1:00 p.m. Dust
This fascinated and fascinating documentary exposes the cyclical and relentless nature of dust in interviews with everyone from scientists uncovering its role in the origins of the universe to artists reveling in the discrete beauty of dust bunnies.

Saturday, May 3, 2008
3:00 p.m. Flower in the Pocket
This quirky, sensitive portrait of two young brothers and their world is among the best Malaysian indies of 2007. Although the film is about sons, it’s the father (played by leading filmmaker James Lee) who faces the fear of growing up.

Saturday, May 3, 2008
5:00 p.m. The Secret of the Grain
Fish couscous has never looked so good, nor the émigré experience so real, as in Tunisian-French director Abdellatif Kechiche’s multi-prizewinning saga of an extended family living in a French seaport.

Saturday, May 3, 2008
8:30 p.m. My Winnipeg
Guy Maddin in Person. In his first foray into documentary, Winnipeg master of the experimental melodrama Guy Maddin melds autobiography and mythology, blurring the line between fact and fiction. Seeking escape from his hometown, Maddin confronts his mother as the city’s history unfolds.

Sunday, May 4, 2008
2:00 p.m. Profit motive and the whispering wind
Inspired by Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, filmmaker John Gianvito creates a lean, lyrical cinematic poem chronicling the history of American freethinkers and radicals through the potent images of the gravestones left behind. With short Pool.

Sunday, May 4, 2008
2:00 p.m. Profit motive and the whispering wind


Sunday, May 4, 2008
4:15 p.m. Alexandra
Singular auteur Alexander Sokurov (Mother and Son, SFIFF 1997) stuns the senses while depicting humanity at its fiercest and finest with this beautiful meditation on the ties that bind, personified by the unforgettable titular grandmother journeying through wartorn Chechnya.

Sunday, May 4, 2008
6:15 p.m. A Stray Girlfriend
In this subtle, amusing breakup movie, which played in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, thirty-something Inés (Ana Katz) finds herself solo on the holiday she planned with her ex, confronting the necessary adjustments it entails for a suddenly solitary woman.

Sunday, May 4, 2008
8:15 p.m. Medicine for Melancholy
A one-night stand evolves into something deeper and politically complex for a young African American couple when they decide to spend the next day together—a life-changing experience that leads to greater intimacy and altered perspectives.

Monday, May 5, 2008
6:30 p.m. Cochochi
Two preteen Tarahumara Indian brothers tasked with delivering medicine across remote northwestern Mexico impetuously “borrow” their grandfather’s horse. They lose the precious steed, then each other in this slyly intricate, locally cast debut film.

Monday, May 5, 2008
8:55 p.m. Secrecy
Peter Galison and Robb Moss in Person. The seduction and power of secrets are at the core of this fascinating and timely documentary exploring why the U.S. government spends more time and money than ever before to keep information away from the American public.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008
6:30 p.m. The Judge and the General
Judge Juan Guzmán, Elizabeth Farnsworth, and Patricio Lanfranco in Person. In a documentary as riveting as a police drama, Chilean judge Juan Guzmán investigates criminal charges against former dictator Augusto Pinochet, uncovering the horrifying truth about the atrocities committed by the Pinochet regime.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008
8:45 p.m. Still Life
China’s most important contemporary filmmaker captures the lives of people caught between China’s past and its uncertain future, in a film set in a village soon to be destroyed by the immense Three Gorges Dam project.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008
6:30 p.m. Recycle
Mahmoud al Massad in Person. In this vivid documentary, filmmaker Mahmoud al Massad digs into the politics, piety, and poverty of his native city in Jordan through the life of husband, father, and former mujahadeen-turned–cardboard collector Abu Ammar.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008
8:45 p.m. Wonderful Town
Writer/director Aditya Assarat’s melancholy Thai “ghost story,” about an architect who falls in love with a hotel maid, substitutes dreamlike scenes of the tsunami-ravaged seacoast for shock cuts. No monsters here, just ordinary people haunted by the disaster, years later.

Thursday, May 8, 2008
6:30 p.m. Calavera Highway
Renee Tajima-Peña in Person. Seven Mexican American brothers confront a past haunted by their mother’s estrangement from her family, and the specter of a long-missing father. As they delve into their pasts, they find unexpected answers to questions about their family and themselves.

Thursday, May 8, 2008
8:55 p.m. Up the Yangtze
Yung Chang in Person. This lyrical, haunting documentary looks at the massive changes wrought by China’s Three Gorges Dam through the eyes of two teenagers working on a cruise ship that caters to European and North American tourists.