The SF International Film Festival SFFILM just announced its 2023 lineup, and they’re bringing the recently closed 1000 Van Ness movie theater back to life for 10 days — though notably, they're not doing many screenings at The Castro.
It’s Christmas Day for Bay Area movie fans, as this morning we got the full schedule and lineup for the 65th annual SFFILM Festival (April 13-23). This year’s festival features 96 films from 36 countries, with highlights including the new Steph Curry documentary, W. Kamau Bell’s latest, and a sneak peek at the first four episodes of Boots Riley’s highly anticipated new Amazon Prime series.
But the bigger news may be where the films will be playing — and where they won’t. This year’s festival will have 46 screenings at its main “hub,” which is the recently closed 1000 Van Ness CGV Cinemas (the former AMC Van Ness 14 has been dark since March 1 and describes itself as “closed temporarily”). But on the other hand, SFFILM will only have one day of screenings at the very much in-limbo Castro Theatre.
“We are delighted to be hosting the majority of the city-based screenings at CGV Theaters on Van Ness,” SFFILM director of programming Jessie Fairbanks tells SFist. “They are temporarily suspending their business, and so we are so ecstatic we are able to occupy the space while they figure out next steps. They very much hope to resume exhibition. As everyone knows, it’s an incredibly challenging landscape right now for theaters.”
“We're delighted to be in a space where we can have more than one screen so people can have the opportunity to gather,” she adds. “We’ll be the only activation in the theater during April 13th through the 23rd.”
But as for the Castro Theatre, the festival’s traditional home for opening and closing night screenings, and the other big events, there will only be night hosting screenings on Tuesday, April 18 (the centerpiece film Past Lives, and Joan Baez I Am a Noise, with Joan Baez expected in person).
“We are huge fans of the theater,” SFFILM executive director Anne Lai said Wednesday, when SFist asked about this. “The preservation of a cinema, a proper cinema, is actually really important and something we believe in very deeply. All of our advocacy and conversations with APE (Another Planet Entertainment) are centered around that. How can you do the things that they want to be able to do, and how can we preserve the experience as a cinema-going experience.”
Again, your Opening Night film is the new documentary Stephen Curry: Underrated (Thursday, April 13, Oakland’s Grand Lake Theatre). Producer Ryan Coogler (Black Panther, Creed, Fruitvale Station) will be on hand, along with director Peter Nicks (The Waiting Room). But will Warriors star Steph Curry himself be there, during the April 11-14 Play-In Tournament, which the Warriors might or might not find themselves in? Fairbanks says, “Maybe some other special guests on the ground, it depends on how the playoffs go. I don’t know how we want to feel about that.”
Local standup legend W. Kamau Bell is definitely expected for his new HBO documentary 1000% Me: Growing Up Mixed (Saturday, April 22, Berkeley’s BAMPFA) “The genesis of this film came from Kamau’s own children, who are mixed, and exist outside the bounds of societal categorizations,” Fairbanks says. “He talks to them about what it is to grow up as a mixed-race individual.”
Boom.— Boots Riley (@BootsRiley) March 6, 2023
I'm A Virgo.
Comes out later this year
starring Jharrel Jerome, Mike Epps, Walton Goggins, Brett Gray, Carmen Ejogo, Olivia Washington, Kara Young, and Allius Barnes pic.twitter.com/0ufTfm7oPc
And this year’s Closing Night feature is Boots Riley's SXSW hit and upcoming Amazon Prime series I’m a Virgo (April 23, CGV San Francisco), a series about a 13-foot tall Black man, of which we’ll get a sneak peek at the first four episodes. “We will be joined by Boots at Closing Night,” Fairbanks said.
A few other standouts include Ben Kingsley as Salvador Dali in Dalíland, Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret starring Kathy Bates, and the documentary Being Mary Tyler Moore. But there are 96 films in all; tickets for the festival are on sale now for SFFILM members, and will go on sale to non-members on Friday, March 24.
Related: 1000 Van Ness Movie Theater Is Closing At Month's End [SFist]
Image: トモ T. via Yelp