SFGFF 2014

The San Francisco Greek Film Festival screens nightly at 7:00 PM from 4 – 10 May 2014 at Delancey Screening Room, 600 The Embarcadero, San Francisco.

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This year’s narrative features are: A Place Called Home directed by Maria Douza 2013, Joy And Sorrow Of The Body directed by Andreas Panzis 2013, Block 12 directed by Kyriakos Tofarides 2013, Miss Violence directed by Alexandros Avranas 2013, Magic Hour directed by Costas Kapakas 2011, Marjoram directed by Olga Maiea 2013, and Committed directed by Stelana Kliris 2014.

For more information and tickets contact the San Francisco Greek Film Festival.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

SFIFF 57

The Two Faces Of January directed by Hossein Amini (UK/USA/France) 2014 is the opening night film of the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival. The film, based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith set primarily in Greece and Turkey, will screen Thursday 24 April 2014 at the Castro Theatre.

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Four of the eleven narrative features competing for the 2014 New Directors Prize are: The Blue Wave directed by Zeynep Dadak and Merve Kayan (Turkey/Germany/Netherlands/Greece) 2013, The Dune directed by Yossi Aviram (France/Israel) 2013, Salvation Army directed by Abdellah Taïa (Morocco) 2013, and South Is Nothing directed by Fabio Mollo, (Italy/France) 2013.

Other narrative features are: Abuse Of Weakness directed by Catherine Breillat (France/Belgium/Germany) 2013, Chinese Puzzle directed by Cédric Klapisch (France/USA) 2013, Eastern Boys directed by Robin Campillo (France) 2013), If You Don’t I Will directed by Sophie Filliéres (France) 2013, Tip Top directed by Serge Bozon (France/Belgim/Luxembourg) 2013, Tonnerre directed by Guillaume Brac (France) 2013, The Trip To Italy directed by Michael Winterbottom (UK/Italy) 2014, Young And Beautiful directed by François Ozon (France 2013), and Yves Saint Laurent directed by Jalil Lespert (France) 2013.

Documentary features include: Agnès Varda: From Here To There directed by Agnès Varda (France) 2013, Coast Of Death directed by Lois Patiño (Spain) 2013, and School Of Babel directed by Julie Bertuccelli (France) 2013.

Contact San Francisco Film Society for more information and tickets.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Night Creatures

Only Lovers Left Alive directed by Jim Jarmusch (USA) 2013 is set in Detroit and Tangier. It begins somewhat dizzily with a spinning turntable followed by the room spinning as the main characters lay listening to the music.

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Eve (Tilda Swinton) is unearthly pale while her partner Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is intensely handsome. She prefers living in an old quarter of Tangier and he favors a large house in an abandoned Detroit neighborhood.

Adam is the more interesting of the two lovers because his life centers around music in all its aspects from composing and playing to collecting stringed instruments and old recordings.

Both are highly educated and, as the film progresses, the source of that knowledge is revealed as is an important factor relating to their reclusiveness.

It took me a while to realize what was going on and didn’t mind the slow pace. The dichotomy of eccentric outsider culture as opposed to the mainstream with its limitations is a recurring theme that resonates in my own life.

The film will probably appeal more to a European than an American audience but also has potential as a cult classic.

It opens 18 April 2014 at the Embarcadero and Sundance Kabuki in San Francisco, and 25 April 2014 at the Shattuck in Berkeley, Camera 3 in San Jose, and Cinearts at Palo Alto Square in Palo Alto.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Anniversary Dance

A British couple revisits Paris three decades after their honeymoon, in Le Week-End directed by Roger Michell (UK) 2013. Nick and Meg seem trapped in a stultifying relationship, hardly worth celebrating. Each of them invariably pushed or pulled in the opposite direction of the other. Nick often worried about the expense of things and Meg indulging in numerous extravagances. Whatever spark of excitement they once shared seems long extinguished.

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Age has obviously taken its toll. Nick seems little concerned with his appearance, overweight, dressed decently, but unshaven. Meg still clings to what is left of her beauty, uncomfortable with the few pounds she gained. He’s still aroused by her but she refuses to comply to his sexual  dessires. At the thirty-year mark they seem to be on the verge of a break-up.

An unexpected encounter with Morgan, an old college pal of Nick’s, introduces a new element into the picture. Nick and Meg put on happy faces at a party they attend. A deeper level of reality is revealed and a dim glimmer of hope manifested. The unpleasant drama of their life together might not be doomed to failure.

It opens 14 March 2014 at Lincoln Plaza and Angelika in New York, as well as The Landmark in Los Angeles.

Also 21 March 2014 at Century Cinema in Chicago, Embarcadero 5 in San Francisco, Cine Arts in Evanston, Monica 4 in Santa Monica, Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, Sundance Cinema Sunset in Los Angeles, and La Jolla in San Diego.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Levantine Disaster

Levant by Philip Mansel, Yale University Press 2011, focuses on the Twentieth Century destruction of three notable Mediterranean cities. Smyrna, Alexandria, and Beirut were once cosmopolitan centers where people of various cultures interacted in a seemingly harmonious environment. They were urban centers that flourished for a time before being torn apart by ethnic and religious rivalries.

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Mansel reveals the underlying causes leading to their eventual fall. Chief among them were the Northern European colonial interventions and disdain for the native peoples living there. Old empires eventually gave way to the increasing pressures of nationalism. The wealthy moved to safer places while those less fortunate remained behind.

Sadly, residents of the region still suffer from not only the indignities of the past but also the injustices of the present.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Top Pic

The Iranian screenwriter and director Asghar Farhadi’s newest film, The Past (France) 2013, is an eloquent exploration of the human condition. It includes excellent performances and cinematography. However, what is most appealing is its compassion and attention to detail as it examines the complexity of relationships not only between lovers or spouses, but also between parents  and children.

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The film has already won awards and media praise. It is Iran’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category of the upcoming Academy Awards.

It premiers 20 December 2013 in New York and Los Angeles, then opens 27 December 2013 at the Clay Theater in San Francisco; 10 January 2014 at the Albany Twin in Albany, CA; 17 January 2014 at the Camera 3 in San Jose, CA, and the Rafael Film Center in San Rafael; 31 January 2014 Nickelodeon Four in Santa Cruz; and 7 February 2014 at Summerfield Cinema in Santa Rosa.

Greek Screen

Film production in Greece began nearly a century ago and collapsed during the chaotic early 20s. It started to reemerge a decade later and made significant gains in the mid 40s despite the tragic Greek Civil War.

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Movies were initially condemned as immoral by conservatives and censored by the numerous dictators that ruled the country during much of the 20th Century. Yet they survived and even blossomed over time.

A History Of Greek Cinema by Vrasidas Karalis, published by Continuum in 2012, tries to make sense of the rise and fall of the industry and its role in the creation of a national culture. It covers the significant films and personalities within each decade.

It’s illustrated throughout with black and white stills unfortunately too small to capture an adequate sense of the works from which they’re taken. However, the book is an indispensable resource for anyone seriously interested in the subject.

copyright © 2013 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved