The San Francisco International Film Festival opens Thursday night at the Castro and runs through May 10th, but the celebration of the festival's 50th anniversary began earlier this year with a launch of a website devoted to the history of the oldest film festival in the United States.
In March, sf360 editor Susan Gerhard, creative director Miguel Pendás, photographer Pamela Gentile, and History Project Coordinator Jennifer Preissel gave a presentation on the site at the Apple Store (more photos).
It is possible to search for any film or guest, and there are Great Moments stories on Les Blank (who is showing All in this Tea this year), Jack Lemmon, Jack Nicholson, Mary Pickford, Abbas Kiarostam, The Talking Heads, and many others.
The story on Bette Davis includes a PDF of her letter to the festival which includes her suggestions for film clips (with a brief comment on each movie). There is an MP3 of Davis, and more MP3s of other guests in the Closeups section.
There are also videos (a player is linked from the the Closeups section). There are short clips including last year's sold out tribute at the Castro to Werner Herzog, and an excerpt from Tilda Swinton's State of Cinema address (the full text is online - this year Peter Sellars is giving the address on Sunday at 4 pm at the Kabuki).
The Our History section includes oral histories from Jerry Mander (author of Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television and a publicist for the fest in the early sixties), Jeannette Etheredge (the owner of Tosca Cafe), and others. Etheredge is scheduled take part in a special edition of the Porchlight storytelling series, Five-O: Stories and Images from 50 Years of the SF International at the Kabuki on Tuesday, May 8th at 6:30 p.m. People can contribute their own stories about the festival in the Collective Memory section of the site.
There will be more stories and history during The True Story of the World: On the Road at 50, at the Kabuki on Monday, April 30 at 6:30 pm. Peter Coyote, Diane DiPrima, and Michael McClure will discuss Kerouac's book which was published the same year the festival started.
The Chronicle has a page which includes Ruthe Stein's short pieces on each year of the festival and other coverage. B. Ruby Rich (who talked about the importance of film festivals in her 2004 State of the Cinema address) interviewed the festival staff about the history of the fest for sf360.
Originally posted on tigerbeat.vox.com