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San Francisco Film Society







The next International takes place April 25–May 9, 2013.


SFIFF "Scoop du Jour" Friday May 2

courtesy of

Video Scoop
The video edition of Scoop features interviews with Mike Leigh, director Ted Thomas (Walt & El Grupo), and director Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy).

Who’s in Town?
Arriving today are directors Patricio Lanfranco (The Judge and the General), Jonathan Levine (The Wackness), Mahmoud al Massad (Recycle), Jirí Menzel (I Served the King of England) and Robb Moss (Secrecy); subject Juan Guzmán (The Judge and the General); and jurors Florence Almozini, Rebeca Conget and George Perry.

House Call
London-based neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, subject of the fascinating documentary The English Surgeon, answered questions from the audience Thursday together with director Geoffrey Smith. The film, which last week took top prize at Toronto’s Hot Docs Festival, chronicles Marsh’s visit to Kiev, Ukraine to operate on a young man with a brain tumor. It took a couple of days of shooting in London and three weeks in Ukraine to make the film. “We probably wouldn’t have survived more,” admitted Smith. Marsh’s schedule was intense and the crew had to follow him all day. Cameras did not bother Marsh during the central operation, which is shown in detail in the film. “Surgeons are risk seekers,” he said. Surgeries are already scary because human life is at stake, noted Marsh, so the cameras were only “a mild addition” to the overall stress. Marsh added jokingly, “Like all surgeons, I am a narcissist.” The patients, too, had no trouble with the filming, consenting to appear in the documentary. “They had a lot more to worry about than our being there,” Smith suggested. Marsh has been going to Ukraine for 17 years, two or three times a year, usually on long weekends. On his first visit, he found the hospital had no electricity, no disinfectants and extremely dilapidated equipment. The only Ukrainian doctor who admitted things were indeed terrible was Igor Kurilets, who became Marsh’s friend and collaborator. While the situation has changed a lot since the 1990s, many people are still too poor to afford medical care. Several Ukrainian-born viewers came to the Kabuki screening specifically to thank the doctor for bringing help and hope to their country. The English Surgeon screens today at 6:15. –MB

Smooth Operator
“I’ve never had such a 100 per cent unreliable character before,” said Anna Broinowski, director of the documentary Forbidden Lie$. The film’s subject, Norma Khouri, was a writer whose riveting 2001 book about a victim of an honor killing in her native Jordan was proven to be a hoax. At the time, Broinowski was not much interested in reading a propaganda piece on the rise of anti-Islamic sentiment. But when it became apparent that neither the book nor Khouri’s life story were true, Broinowski became intrigued with the woman who managed “to convince the whole world that she was a Jordanian virgin,” which, by the way, was also false. Working on the movie, the filmmakers had to double-check everything. Dealing with Khouri, who comes across as a master con artist and an obsessive liar, was exhausting. (Broinowski recalled experiencing “some sort of a Stockholm Syndrome,” phoning her producer Sally Regan to say she was starting to believe the film’s notorious subject.) Forbidden Lie$ got an emotional reception in the Middle East, where people felt deeply insulted by Khouri’s book. Broinowski is convinced that Western media present their own version of “Middle East, Inc.” instead of the real thing. “My film is about truth, about what we believe and why,” she said. Want a sequel? Wait for Khouri’s commentary on the upcoming DVD, where she meets every allegation with a new fantastic story. Forbidden Lie$ screens today at 6:30 at the Clay. –MB

Frankly, My Dear…
Experimental film icon Bruce Conner’s Easter Morning is a flurry of superimpositions—leafy foliage, a flame, a nude woman in her top-floor apartment—comprising a montage that recalls the work of Stan Brakhage. At Saturday’s screening, Conner’s collaborator, producer Henry Rosenthal, noted that the effects and editing of the film, which Conner shot in 1966 and only recently unearthed, were all done in the camera. Conner had initially screened his 8mm work at gallery installations. At that time, the film had no soundtrack and Conner would play In C, Terry Riley’s landmark experimental composition, unsynced with the film. When Conner rediscovered the work, he chose to pair it with a Shanghai Film Orchestra recording of that same piece. Rosenthal announced that the Cannes Film Festival will be screening Conner’s film, his first to be featured at that prestigious event. Conner’s reaction to the news? “I don’t give a damn,” he told Rosenthal, and immediately changed the topic. So no, he won’t be attending. Easter Morning screens today at 3:45 in the shorts program Alternate Geographies. –JP

Today’s Best Bets
At the Kabuki today, Friday, May 2, you can still buy tickets for Ran Tal’s documentary about growing up on a kibbutz, Children of the Sun, featuring a Q&A with the director, at 3:30; Alternate Geographies at 3:45; La France at 4:15, followed by a Q&A with director Serge Bozon; the Chinese documentary Umbrella at 5:30; Johnnie To’s romantic ghost story, Linger, at 8:30; Emily Hubley’s The Toe Tactic at 9:15; the Norwegian black comedy The Art of Negative Thinking at 9:30; and Late Show feature Big Man Japan at 11:00. You can catch Peter J. Owens Award recipient Maria Bello at the Castro, followed by a screening of The Yellow Handkerchief, beginning at 7:00. At the Clay, see the offbeat Japanese comedy Glasses, with director Naoko Ogigami in attendance, at 3:30; the documentary Forbidden Lie$, with director Anna Broinowski, at 6:30; and the graceful French debut All Is Forgiven, with director Mia Hansen-Løve, at 9:30.

Today’s contributors to Scoop include Maria Belilovskaya and Jennifer Preissel.



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About San Francisco Film Society

Legatt Graham







The longest-running film festival in the Americas, the San Francisco International Film Festival has built an international reputation for bringing the world’s finest films and filmmakers together with passionate and enthusiastic Bay Area audiences.

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