Catch “20,000 Days On Earth”, a rock documentary that glimpses deep into the artistic life of the usually private, often described as taciturn Australian-born musician Nick Cave. The film will screen next week as part of the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival. Shot like a film noir with Cave as narrator, the stylized documentary won recent Sundance honors for editing as well as directing. Though it reveals something of Cave's creative genius, the film uncannily also preserves the mythology surrounding him.
"20,000 Days On Earth" refers to the length of time Cave had noted he has been on this earth when he embarked on "Push The Sky Away" the 15th album from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. It will have two screenings at the SFIFF. The festival kicked off with much fanfare yesterday at The Castro Theatre with it's Opening Night feature "Two Faces Of January" starring Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Dunst, followed by a party at the new Mission event-space Public Works.
The film festival which runs till May 8, will showcase 200 films and live events, offering 14 Juried Prizes and nearly $40,000 in cash prizes. For music fans, your cup doth overflow - in addition to rock documentaries such as “20,000 Days On Earth”, “The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir” and “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon” there are a good number of offerings that focus on music or have it as an integral part from the '80s-set "Ping Pong Summer" to the absurd comedy of "Frank".
SFIFF's “Live & On Stage” series at The Castro Theatre has two offerings this year. It presents Bay Area musician "Thao And The Get Down Stay Down" performing a live soundtrack, set to the films of Charlie Chaplain on Tuesday, April 29. And also "Stephen Merritt With The Unknown" which pairs the musician from indie band, The Magnetic Fields with a new score to accompany Tod Brownings 1927 classic silent film, "The Unknown"on Tuesday, May 6. "The Unknown" stars a very young, Joan Crawford and a villain with three thumbs.
For film buffs, other stand-out films worth noting are "The Double" directed by comedian, Richard Ayoade whose first film directing debut was the Alex Turner-soundtracked charm of a film, "Submarine"; "Last Weekend" starring Patricia Clarkson as an aging matriarch who takes her family up to her Lake Tahoe manor for a last farewell; and the James Franco penned "Palo Alto". The latter is a stunning coming-off-age feature told with the deft and measured hand of exciting newcomer, Gia Coppola. The slow-burn careening off-the- cliff that the young Nat Wolff 's character effuses is palpable. Like in the book, the action unfolds in a series of overlapping vignettes but on the big screen it bears the mark of European films where each character and their inner conflicts are quiet studies that allow tension to simmer rather than pop its lid. Among the young cast are Jack Kilmer, Olivia Crocicchia and Emma Roberts who all give fantastic turns, in this teen-angst film soundtracked by Dev Hynes and Robert Schwartzman, that should resonate brilliantly with all.
The festival also has a hefty international component for fans of foreign cinema. There is India's Amit Dutta's metaphysical inquiry "The Seventh Walk" - where mysterious footsteps beckons a painter, curiously into his own paintings, in this visually stunning piece. And the Iranian political thriller "Manuscripts Don't Burn" about the country's intellectuals, the Draconian measures that stifle their work and Secret Service harassments they endure in their quotidian.
From Europe, there is “Young & Beautiful” which fleshes out a young girl’s 'first time' and in a manner only the French can, how she then decides to choose this new-found come-hither appeal to join the oldest profession. From director Francois Ozon, the narrative unfolds over a space of four seasons and four Francoise Hardy chansons. Also from France is the delightful "Chinese Puzzle" which re-engages the characters from the Erasmus program. Cedric Klapisch's third in the series which began with "The Spanish Apartment" and continued with "Russian Dolls", places Romain Duris' character now in New York. He is in circumstances just as complicated but as always is motivated by love, this time for his children.
There is an overwhelming plethora of great films assembled in the program this year, helmed by the new Executive Director for the San Francisco Film Society, Mr Noah Cowan. The films are screened at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Castro Theatre and New People Cinema, as well as at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. For a full program, showtimes, tickets and further details, visit their website www.sffs.org. And also consider being a Film Society member for special screenings throughout the year and during the festival, special advance tickets and SFIFF Members Night.
For music fans, we have compiled a list of the Top 7 films that you should not miss at the 57th SFIFF.