There's been another cinematic coup for Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, newly open at Mission and 21st Street. After scoring Star Wars: The Force Awakens for their grand opening and bringing in Lost Weekend Video plus the enormous Le Video collection, the cinema-bar-restaurant-video-rental concept will now serve as the main venue for the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 21 to May 5). In a Tuesday announcement on their website, the SF Film Society staked their 2016 claim on “San Francisco's newest (Alamo Drafthouse New Mission) and oldest (Roxie Theater) screens to bring the best of world cinema to Bay Area audiences.”
The festival’s opening and closing night screenings will still at be held at the Castro Theatre. “We love the Castro,” SF Film Society executive director Noah Cowan told SFist. "It’s been the home to our biggest nights over the decades.” Cowan noted there will be many additional film festival screenings at the Castro this year as well.
“But the Alamo Drafthouse will feel like the center of the festival, in many ways,” he said.
This marks a huge change from the SFIFF's traditional primary venue being the Sundance Kabuki Theater, which will not be holding film festival screenings this year.
The Alamo will now serve as the main hub for the festival’s 200+ screenings, with other shows at the Castro, the Victoria, the Roxie and in Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive. The festival is also adding the digital arts studio/hackerspace venue Gray Area on Mission Street for many of its non-screening events.
And it looks as though the Lost Weekend Video and Le Video collections will be available for rental when the film festival rolls around recent visitors to the Alamo Drafthouse have seen the video racks under construction (the kiosk was earlier promised to be open by February).
The burning question on this primary venue change is whether festival attendees will have to stand outside in the howling wind whilst waiting for the theaters to seat them, as they did when screenings were held at the Kabuki. “We’ll do our best to ensure that most people who need to wait significant amounts of time at the Alamo Drafthouse will be able to do so inside,” Cowan said.
The full program of the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival will be released on Tuesday, March 29, with the opening film on April 21.