Event slates kudos, silent classics with live music
SAN FRANCISCO — Tributes to Joan Allen, Taylor Hackford and “Million Dollar Baby” scribe Paul Haggis will highlight this year’s San Francisco Film Festival.The 39-year-old event will run April 21-May 5 at various San Francisco, Berkeley and Palo Alto venues. Fest will include the world preem of features such as Malay meditation on terrorism “Monday Morning Glory” and English-German co-production “Mouth to Mouth,” as well as gay-themed docus “Life in a Box” and “Pursuit of Equality.” Allen, currently in “Off the Map” and “The Upside of Anger,” will accept the Peter J. Owens Award, which exemplifies “independence and integrity.” Her April 29 onstage interview will be followed by screening of forthcoming Sony Pictures Classics romance “Yes,” from helmer Sally Potter, also a fest guest. Hackford (“Ray”) will receive the Film Society Award for lifetime achievement in directing. Honor will accompany a rare screening of “The Idolmaker,” a 1980 feature about the early rock ‘n’ roll era. Choice of the Canadian-born Haggis as recipient of the inaugural Kanbar Award for screenwriting excellence is offbeat, in that virtually all his screen work prior to adapting F.X. Toole’s boxing stories as “Baby” was for television — most notably “thirtysomething” and 1997 crime skein “EZ Streets.” He’ll discuss his career — in the form of a screenwriting master class — on April 30, in addition to showing his first bigscreen feature as writer-director, Lions Gate ensemble drama “Crash.” Other award recipients and special guests this year include longtime San Francisco Bay Area film programmer Anita Monga; “The Incredibles” director Brad Bird; BBC docu producer Adam Curtis (“Century of the Self”); and Todd Solondz, who will discuss his screenplay methodologies after screening “Palindromes.” All awardees will be present at the annual high-ticket Film Society Awards Night fete April 28, where Jeff Bridges, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Benjamin Bratt, Dana Delaney, Josh Brolin are among those expected as presenters and guests. Encompassing some 185 titles from 49 countries, current SFIFF edition will kick off April 21 with Costa-Gavras presenting his latest feature, “The Ax,” a rare comedy from the political-thriller maestro. Closer on May 5 will be playwright Craig Lucas’ directorial bow, “The Dying Gaul,” a love triangle drama whose stars Campbell Scott, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard will all be present. Midfest spotlight will be on Greg Harrison’s Sundance-launched suspenser “November,” with Courteney Cox Arquette; both are expected as guests. Other highlights include three silent classics with live music. Recently reunited indie rock band American Music Club will premiere a commissioned score for Frank Borzage’s lyrical romance “Street Angel” on April 23. On April 25, there will be back-to-back screenings of Hitchcock’s early “Blackmail” and the Lon Chaney “Phantom of the Opera,” each newly scored by the Alloy Orchestra. Free seminars will focus on new distribution routes for the independent filmmaker and the new wave of indie Malaysian cinema (a focal point in this year’s lineup).