Under the guidance of its new executive director Ted Hope, the 56th annual San Francisco International Film Festival promises to be an exciting affair.
Opening April 25, the 15-day event hosts 95 feature films and full-length documentaries and 63 shorts.
The 2013 lineup, announced Tuesday, is dedicated to the memory of George Gund III, longtime board chairman of the San Francisco Film Society, the festival’s parent organization, who died in January.
“A festival staple for 40 years, George’s generosity supported the growth of the Film Society into the year-round organization it is today,” Hope said.
Hope, a veteran film producer with several independent film companies including Good Machine and Double Hope Films, moved from New York in the fall to lead the Film Society. He is succeeding the late Bingham Ray and Graham Leggat.
Earning the title “international,” the festival will present only 37 U.S. productions or co-productions among its 95 full-length films.
At the same time, this year’s offerings have a stronger local emphasis than in past years. Among honorees and participants are Bay Area icons such as Philip Kaufman, earning a directing award, and filmmakers Les Blank, Dan Krauss and Kalyanee Mam.
Former locals David Siegel and Scott McGehee directed the opening-night film, “What Maisie Knew,” featuring Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan. The contemporary adaptation of Henry James’ 1897 novel about an unraveling marriage’s impact on a young child screens at 7 p.m. at Castro Theatre, followed by a gala party at Temple Nightclub.
Rick Prelinger and Robert Reich are the subject of the event’s centerpiece presentation. “Inequality for All,” an award-winning documentary about the widening gap between rich and poor. The film screens at 6:30 p.m. May 4 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.
Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight,” at 7 p.m. May 9 at the Castro, is the closing feature. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy again play Jesse and Céline, who met on a train 18 years ago in Linklater’s 1995 “Before Sunrise” and met up again in his 2004 “Before Sunset.” The romance continues, but now the characters embrace (or fight) middle age.
In the world cinema spotlight is “Mob Rules: The Enduring Popularity of Gangster Cinema,” a genre originating in the U.S., and now spreading worldwide. New South Korean, Russian and Japanese films are featured.