Spring brings California sunshine, cherry blossoms and the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival to the city by the bay on April 24 to May 8, 2014. There’s nothing like emerging from an other-worldly cocoon of the darkened cinema into squint-worthy midday sunbeams, but we love it to the tune of about 75,000 tickets sold annually. And we especially love hearing from directors, actors, cinematographers, writers, editors, animators, costumers about the action behind the scenes. After all, San Francisco’s natural and man-made allure has inspired Alfred Hitchcock, Lina Wertmuller, Blake Edwards, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, Ron Howard, Ang Lee and a healthy list of A-list directors to focus the camera lens here.
It’s all about exposure, pun intended. Billed as “the longest running film festival in The Americas,” the annual gathering of filmmakers in San Francisco is considered an essential stop on the international film festival circuit. Last year’s two week event screened 158 films from 51 countries. This year’s lineup is released on April 1, 2014 on the heels of an announcement that Toronto’s Noah Cowan is the new director of the San Francisco Film Society overseeing SFIFF.
Look like a million bucks
A healthy grant program with a pot of one million dollars is available annually to independent filmmakers. Some of these films may go on to further acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival and Sundance. Notably in recent years, “Fruitvale Station” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which earned four Academy Award nominations, launched the career of 9-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis.
From little seeds
San Francisco Film Society fosters young talent via its education program with an artist-in-residence visiting schools, audience-building invitations to screenings and filmmaker talks, aspiring young filmmakers camps, media literacy outreach for kindergarten through secondary school and a developmental program to transition college students to professional roles. Filmmakers360 provides in-residency spaces, support, assistance, grants and the privately funded Documentary Film Fund. That initiative successfully launched “American Promise,” which went on to win the Special Jury Prize at Sundance, “Cutie and the Boxer,” awarded Documentary Director at Sundance and “Narco Cultura,” which premiered at Sundance.