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By Mark Bell | March 20, 2013

The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, running April 25-May 9, 2013, has announced its Opening, Closing and Centerpiece Film selections. From the official press release:

The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 25 – May 9) has announced the films forming its highly-anticipated Big Nights series. Things kick off with the Opening Night presentation of returning Bay Area duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s emotional drama What Maisie Knew (USA 2012) starring Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgård. The celebration continues on May 4 with the Centerpiece screening of Jacob Kornbluth’s insightful Inequality For All (USA 2013), featuring local economist Robert Reich. The festival then comes to a close with Richard Linklater’s (Bernie, SFIFF 2012) Before Midnight (USA 2013), the third film in the director’s acclaimed romantic trilogy starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Special guests are expected and will participate in post-screening Q&A’s at each event, and all will be followed by exclusive parties.


“With this year’s amazing lineup of Big Nights we welcome back filmmakers whose work has resonated with SFIFF audiences and shine a spotlight on local luminaries,” said Rachel Rosen, San Francisco Film Society director of programming. “Former San Francisco filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel are coming back to share their latest work while Jacob Kornbluth’s Bay Area production celebrates a superstar in quite another field: UC Berkeley economics professor (and former U.S. Labor Secretary) Robert Reich. We’re also thrilled to bring back Richard Linklater to end the festival with one of the most honest and enduring screen romances of all time.”

With their rousing combination of renowned artists, acclaimed films and San Francisco hot spots, SFIFF’s Big Nights are an annual landmark on the Bay Area cultural calendar. These highly-anticipated films and parties are three of the most important nights of the year for local film fans. These auspicious occasions demarcating the Festival’s beginning, middle and end give the SFIFF community a chance to gather in celebration of world class cinema and to drink, dance and discuss from dusk till dawn.

For more information visit

Opening Night: What Maisie Knew
Thursday April 25, 7:00 pm, Castro Theatre
Codirectors Scott McGehee and David Siegel and actor Onata Aprile expected
In a loose adaptation of Henry James’ novel of the same name, Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s What Maisie Knew focuses on the effects of a marriage unraveling as viewed through the eyes of a couple’s six-year-old daughter (played by remarkable newcomer Onata Aprile). Shuffling between narcissistic parents-her rock star mother (Julianne Moore) and distracted art dealer father (Steve Coogan)-or foisted off on parental stand-ins (Alexander Skarsgård and Joanna Vanderham), young Maisie comes face to face with the mercurial world of grown-ups who are anything but.

The Opening Night celebration continues at the Temple Nightclub (540 Harrison Street) at 9:00 pm with a lavish party featuring hors d’oeuvres from local restaurants, sophisticated cocktails and, of course, dancing.

Centerpiece: Inequality For All
Saturday May 4, 6:30 pm, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Director Jacob Kornbluth and subject Robert Reich expected
In this Inconvenient Truth for the economy, the Sundance Special Jury Award-winning Inequality For All introduces former Secretary of Labor (and current UC Berkeley professor) Robert Reich as an inspirational and humorous guide in exploring the causes and consequences of the widening income gap in America and asks what is means for the future of our economy and nation. Passionate and insightful, Reich connects the dots for viewers by providing a comprehensive and significantly deeper understanding of what’s at stake if we don’t act.

At 8:30 pm guests will party at Roe (651 Howard Street), San Francisco’s premier boutique nightclub and lounge destination. They will indulge in cool cocktails, delicious hors d’oeuvres and the latest beats.

Closing Night: Before Midnight
Thursday May 9, 7:00 pm, Castro Theatre
Director Richard Linklater expected
They’re still the same romantic, articulate and gorgeous couple that met on a train in Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995), but now, nearly 20 years on, Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) are approaching middle age and facing questions of commitment, family and, as ever, the staying power of love. Before Midnight, with a funny and touching screenplay cowritten by Linklater and his two lead actors, is that rare sequel (rarer still: a sequel to a sequel) that not only delivers the charm and energy of its antecedents but adds layers of poignancy, standing firmly on its own as a mature observation of love’s pleasures and discontents.

At 9:00 pm the Closing Night party kicks off at Ruby Skye (420 Mason Street). Partygoers will bring down the final curtain on SFIFF56 with festive drinks, hors d’oeuvres and music.

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