Leggat planning long-tern expansion for event

Under new topper Graham Leggat, the 49th annual San Francisco Film Festival will think locally and act globally in its lineup, which unspools April 20-May 4.

Leggat, the new exec director of umbrella org the San Francisco Film Society, has hit the ground running, planning long-term program expansions while pulling together an immediate event that emphasizes the city’s cinematic ties and casts a wide global net.

Four big nights of spotlit features — all heavy on song — and major parties commence with opening night’s “Perhaps Love,” a musical melodrama with an all-star pan-Asian cast by recently Hong Kong helmer Peter Ho-Sun Chun (“Comrades: A Love Story”).

Closer will be Robert Altman’s “The Prairie Home Companion,” with local resident Lily Tomlin in attendance. Between, Zoom night targeting young adult festgoers will on May 2 offer Emmanuelle Bercot’s “Backstage,” with attendee Emmanuelle Seigner as a pop diva getting “All About Eve” with a younger fan-stalker.

Centerpiece selection April 29 is the U.S. preem of John Turturro’s “Romance & Cigarettes,” another offbeat, name-laden tuner that Leggat noted “got sort of lost” amid MGM’s recent restructuring shakeups.

High-end-ticket Film Society Awards night on April 27 will provide wining, dining and the one-stop honoring of four talents who’ll also appear at separate tribute programs: Film Society Directing Award recipient Werner Herzog (April 26); Peter J. Owens awardee Ed Harris (April 28); Hanbar excellence in screenwriting nod recipient Jean-Claude Carriere, a four-decade collaborator with Bunuel, Malle, Forman and Schlondorff; and Persistence of Vision winner Guy Maddin, the iconoclastic Canadian helmer of “The Saddest Music in the World.”

Chosen to deliver 2006’s State of the Cinema address (on April 29) is Brit actor Tilda Swinton.

Fest’s two-week, 227-film bulk has been reshuffled, with several new categories and thematic/aud thrusts. Among them are midnight-movie slot the Late Show, new technology showcase Kinotek, Indie Asia and Family Films, plus a special bin (From the 20th Century) for rare archival titles with live original music.

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