Approaching the end of the first month in his new job, San Francisco Film Society executive director Noah Cowan met the press Tuesday morning in a vista-rich meeting room atop the Fairmont Hotel. The focus of the shindig, and the draw for the majority of film critics and journalists, was the announcement of the complete program of the S.F. International Film Festival (Apr. 24-May 8). Cowan's appearance was simply the shrimp cocktail on the smorgasbord.
To say that Cowan's introduction was slightly above and to the side of the main event is simply to acknowledge that he was hired after the vast majority of the festival lineup was set. His influence on the organization and the program won't be discernible for a while, although the Canadian native's enthusiasm had a palpable effect on the representatives of the Third Estate as well as the members of the local film community in attendance.
Although you are no doubt enjoying the vicarious pleasure of sipping coffee and gazing at stunning bay views (even obscured by gray clouds), our pressing business together is identifying the fest's most intriguing offerings and hottest tickets. Open another window at sffs.org, and let's go browsing.
Between the sponsors' allotment, the glitterati and the party crowd, opening and closing night tickets are at a premium. The cognoscenti know the films bookending any festival will likely open within a few months, and turn their attention to the treasures lurking in the program outside of the spotlight. Now that you've been advised, the delicious Patricia Highsmith thriller The Two Faces of January, serving up an Athens feast of Viggo Mortenson, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac in Kennedy-era attire, launches the festival at the Castro on April 24. The party is at Public Works. The fest wraps May 8 with Chris Messina's directorial debut, Alex of Venice, which centers on an overcommitted environmental lawyer (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) whose husband (Messina) and father (Don Johnson, 25 years (!) after Miami Vice) have had enough.
Other certain sellouts include the Centerpiece film, Palo Alto, (May 3) adapted by Gia Coppola (Francis' granddaughter) from James Franco's book about teenagers on the cusp. Speaking of the journey to adulthood, Richard Linklater presents Boyhood, his pioneering (fictional) portrait of a lad from 6 to 18 and picks up the Founder's Directing Award at the Castro May 2.