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Onata Aprile captivates on opening night of the 56th S.F. Int'l Film Festival

Actress Onata Aprile, star of "What Maisie Knew", at the Castro Theatre last Thursday night on opening night of SFIFF56.
Actress Onata Aprile, star of "What Maisie Knew", at the Castro Theatre last Thursday night on opening night of SFIFF56.
Omar P.L. Moore/


Actress Onata Aprile during a post-screening Q&A of "What Maisie Knew"
Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel

"I liked everyone", said young actress Onata Aprile, last Thursday night after the San Francisco premiere of "What Maisie Knew", the drama she stars in. Miss Aprile, who plays the precocious six-year-old title character, was responding to a question about who her favorite actor on set was in the film.

Her answer was greeted with hearty applause. David Siegel, one of the two directors of "Maisie", about a child caught in a custody battle between two bickering self-absorbed parents in New York City, suggested that Alexander Skarsgard, one of the film's stars, was the person Miss Aprile liked best.

"She's trying to decide whether to be political or be honest," Mr. Siegel hinted moments before his giveaway, as Miss Aprile was mulling over the question during the film's post-screening, on opening night of the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival. Scott McGehee, the other director of "What Maisie Knew", grinned from ear to ear as Miss Aprile captivated the packed house here.

"What Maisie Knew" is based on Henry James' 1897 novel.

Before "What Maisie Knew", which also stars Julianne Moore, Joanna Vanderham and Steve Coogan, San Francisco Film Society executive director Ted Hope greeted a robust, enthusiastic audience with the news that Harrison Ford would be the recipient of this year's Peter J. Owens award for career achievement in acting.

Mr. Hope also paid a fond tribute to George Gund, the chairman of the Film Society's board of directors. Mr. Gund passed away in January, and a short film on the late pioneer and philanthropist said it all.

"Thank you for welcoming my wife Vanessa and I to San Francisco," Mr. Hope said prior to the moving tribute to Mr. Gund. Last year Mr. Hope was named to the position by the San Francisco Film Society.

"It's not so much about the 153 best movies in world cinema that we will be presenting to you. It is about you guys, the audience. And San Francisco audiences are something special."

The San Francisco International Film Festival continues through May 9. For more details visit

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Omar P.L. Moore is a member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. He is the editor and creator of The Popcorn Reel movie review/interview website. He can be reached at, read at, contacted at and seen reviewing films at

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