19.April.2012: The San Francisco International Film Festival opens tonight with Benoît Jacquot’s Farewell, My Queen at the grand Castro Theatre and runs through May 3. All of the Bay Area’s alt weeklies feature coverage, beginning with Kelly Vance’s long discussion of the San Francisco Film Society’s hard year (the death of both executive director Graham Leggat and his successor, Bingham Ray) and the many bright lights of this year’s SFIFF for The East Bay Express. He’s especially excited to Mel Novikoff Award winner Pierre Rissient, who will be on hand to introduce a new print of Fritz Lang’s House by the River. “The two obsessive Frenchmen, Rissient and [Henri] Langlois, grew up inordinately enchanted by films and devoted their entire lives to enshrining the right ones,” Vance writes. For Rissient, the directorial “Four Aces” were Otto Preminger, Joseph Losey (he had a falling out with both of them), Raoul Walsh, and Fritz Lang, but he championed the work of John Boorman, Quentin Tarantino, Sydney Pollack, Bob Rafelson, King Hu, Lino Brocka, Olivier Assayas, and Hou Hsiao-Hsien just as fiercely.” SF Weekly critic Michael Fox considers the many SFIFF films broaching ethical dilemmas, while The San Francisco Bay Guardian splits its coverage with capsule reviews, Dennis Harvey on the docs, Sam Stander on SF filmmaker Sam Green’s presentation of The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller with live score performed by Yo La Tengo, and some stray thoughts on the remote landscapes of this year’s SFIFF film by the current author.
A full retrospective of Michael Glawogger’s films opens at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York tonight with the Austrian filmmaker’s latest documentary, Whore’s Glory (Glawogger explained that he meant the title in part as an homage to William T. Vollman’s novel, Whores for Gloria, at a screening of the film at the Harvard Film Archive last weekend). “Few today are doing the messy, vital job of etching life onto the screen as well as Michael Glawogger,” writes Nick Pinkerton for Artforum. Olaf Möller takes in a fuller range of Glawogger’s films, influences and chutzpah for Moving Image Source. We’re still looking for a woman’s take on Whore’s Glory, but in the meantime you can stream his earlier documentary, Workingman’s Death, at Fandor now.
The University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center recently acquired the personal papers of Tom Smith, the special effects pioneer who worked on films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., and Return of the Jedi. Richard Whittaker looks forward to Smith’s public appearance at the library tonight with a feature for The Austin Chronicle. “The turning point” for Smith, Whittaker writes, “was a 1977 short called The Solar System, a documentary he made with esteemed Cal Tech astronomer Carl Sandage…Many of the people involved in this project went on to work for Lucas and Spielberg, and Smith believes it was that connection that lead to him being hired to lead [Industrial Light and Magic] in 1979.”