‘Fog City Mavericks’ presents larger-than-life view 

It’s a wonder that anyone decides to stay in San Francisco, considering how dangerous it is. The Golden Gate Bridge was mangled by a giant sea monster in 1955, and in the great earthquake of 1978. There was a huge fire downtown in 1974 at the world’s tallest skyscraper. Who can forget the invasion of alien pods in 1978?

This is the larger-than-life version of San Francisco as seen in the movies. What is it that makes film directors drool over our little burg? Jim Van Buskirk, co-author of "Celluloid San Francisco: A Film Lover’s Guide to Bay Area Movie Locations," says sometimes The City’s literary or cinematic history is intrinsic to a film’s plot, citing "The Maltese Falcon" or "High Anxiety." Other movies may take advantage of The City’s reputation as mysterious ("Sudden Fear," "Vertigo," "Dark Passage") or wacky ("Petulia," "Tales of the City," "What’s Up, Doc?").

But let’s face it, he says: "Mostly, it’s because San Francisco is so photogenic."

The City’s culture and growing film community have led some filmmakers to settle here. Especially in the 1960s, "San Francisco appealed to a certain kind of auteur filmmaker, [and they] ended up relocating to the Bay Area," says Stefanie Coyote, executive director of the San Francisco Film Commission.

The film community is being celebrated in Gary Leva’s new documentary "Fog City Mavericks" premiering Sunday. Leva’s film examines how "the DNA of San Francisco affects — and reflects — the lives and work of its artists." "Mavericks" goes backto Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering work in 1887, and takes us through today’s greats such as Philip Kaufman, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas.

"Fog City Mavericks" screens at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Castro Theatre. Tickets are $20-$25.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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