2007 event runs April 26 through May 10

SAN FRANCISCO — Calling it “quite an auspicious moment for us,” Executive Director Graham Leggat and programming staff announced the full schedule for this year’s SF International Film Festival, which happens to be the 50th anniversary edition of the oldest continually running such event in the Western Hemisphere. 2007 event runs April 26 through May 10 at various SF and Bay Area venues.

“What we are trying to do is not only present an excellent annual version of the festival, but also a summation of the last five decades‹an exclamation point,” Leggat said.

To that end, golden anni’s focus won’t be in a retrospective direction so much as in celebrating the art form’s present and future, as well as the area’s unique ongoing contributions to cinema.

That latter element will be most dramatic when the April 29 world premiere of Gary Leva’s docu “Fog City Mavericks” brings together several of the profiled locally-based filmmakers. Among those expected to clamber onto the Castro Theatre stage for a post-screening Q&A are George Lucas, Robin Williams, Philip Kaufman, Saul Zaentz, Walter Murch, Chris Columbus, Joan Chen, veteran experimentalists like Bruce Connor and Rob Nilsson, and leading Pixar personnel.

At the Film Society Awards Night gala May 3, Lucas will accept a one-time-only Irving M. Levin Award, named after fest’s late founder; Williams gets the Peter J. Owens Award; and Spike Lee (who premiered his first feature here) the Film Society Directing Award. “The Queen” scenarist Peter Morgan will be handed the newish Kanbar nod by guest Ron Howard, who is directing the film of his play “Frost/Nixon.”

Mel Novikoff Award goes this year to longtime film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow, who’ll present 1929 Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler “The Iron Mask” on April 28. Vet Dutch documentarian Heddy Honigmann receives the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award on May 1.

Repping a new SFIFF honor are the Midnight Awards, designed to applaud two rising stars each year from what Leggat called “the next generation of great American actors.” In a gesture to the stamina of youth, first recipients‹Rosario Dawson and Sam Rockwell‹will get theirs during a DJ’d party starting late on the 28th and going into the wee hours.

Kickoff pic on the 26th is Italy-France coprod “Golden Door” aka “Nuovomondo,” Emanuele Crialese’s tale of Sicilian emigration to the U.S. a century ago. Official closer will be another costume drama, current French b.o. smash “La Vie en Rose” with Marion Cotillard as tragic chanteuse Edith Piaf, while “Centerpiece” pic on May 5 is Tom DiCillo’s up-to-the-moment “Delirious,” toplining fest guest Steve Buscemi as an NYC paparazzo.

Other highlights include several live-music-with-film events, including Guy Maddin’s new silent “Brand Upon the Brain!” and Victor Sjostrom’s 1921 Swedish fantasy “The Phantom Carriage, latter accompanied by alt-popster Jonathan Richman. A multimedia event will ponder the legacy of Jack Kerouac’s Beat lit classic “On the Road,” which was written here and is also 50 years old. Claiming seniority, however, is Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” which will celebrate its 70th anni with screening of a newly struck print.

Sidebar sections include “Cinema by the Bay,” emphasizing local filmmakers; new-technology forum “Kinotech;” “The Late Show’s” international horror pics; 32 emerging New Directors; plus the usual extensive Documentary, World Cinema and Shorts Program lineups.

Fest is diversifying its location slate this year, adding the Clay Theatre and SF Museum of Modern Art as well as one-shot “satellite” events at nonconventional venues. In addition to the historic Castro, primary venue will be the former AMC Kabuki, recently acquired by Sundance‹and which, being still mid-renovation, Leggat says will be “mostly ready” when SFIFF moves in. Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive and Palo Alto’s Aquarius Theatre will also show parts of fest program.

Notable guests anticipated to attend include thesps Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Golden Door”), Parker Posey (for both “Fay Grim” and “Broken English”) and Danny Glover (as exec producer of “Bamako”); helmers Hal Hartley, Otar Iosseliani and Bruno Dumont; and many more repping various of the 200 total pics from 54 countries.

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