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The Show Must Go On: The 2001 San Francisco International Film Festival

This year, while America is preoccupied with the economy, independent filmmakers continue to surprise us with challenging films in best tradition of the San Francisco International Film Festival. Presented by the San Francisco Film Society, the 44th San Francisco International Film Festival runs from April 19 to May 3, 2001.

As always, the festival presents films by some of the masters of cinema — among this year’s lineup are pictures from Agnés Varda, Arturo Ripstein, Manoel de Oliveira, Jan Svankmajer, Tom Tykwer, Michael Winterbottom, and Zhang Yimou. The festival also presents new work by up-and-coming Asian filmmakers from the Philippines and Japan.

As well, SFIFF pays tribute this year to the untarnished spirit of the French New Wave by presenting a series of films by Jacques Rozier, whose work is virtually unseen in this country. Under the rubric ‘Out of the Past,’ the festival brings us the work of celebrated American filmmaker Kenneth Anger, a ferociously uncompromising Kira Muratova, Fritz Lang, and even newly recovered films by Georges Méliès himself, discovered 60 years after his death.

This year’s Festival also highlights the most famous of the contemporary independents including Edward Burns, who brings another love story about New Yorkers indefatigably seeking love in Sidewalks of New York, Wayne Wang, whose enigmatic and sexually provocative Center of the World celebrates the opening night of the festival, and John Cameron Mitchell.

Clint Eastwood is this year’s recipient of the Akira Kurosawa Award for lifetime achievement by a director. A special panel will showcase Eastwood’s career highlights, featuring an onstage interview and a screening of High Plains Drifter. Stockard Channing receives the Peter J. Owens Award for brilliance, independence, and integrity by an actor. Her career highlights and onstage interview will include a screening of a new film The Business of Strangers.

The documentary highlights include, among many films, Calle 54 by Fernando Trueba, a musical documentary for Latin Jazz lovers; Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition by George Butler, a breathtaking saga about traversing the Antarctic Continent; Juan, I Forgot I Don’t Remember by Juan Carlos Rulfo; and Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale, by David Shapiro and Laurie Gwen Shapiro, which will certainly ignite a lot of debate for its subject matter — the alternative lifestyle of a 76-year-old eccentric gay Jew from New York unabashedly fascinated with ‘the wild man.’

The San Francisco International Film Festival has brought to the city’s cinephiles a lot of truly unforgettable moments. For a complete list of films, ticket information, and special events, head to SFIFF by visiting its website.

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