On Friday we saw Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, our first screening of the festival. On Saturday, we were at the film festival all day and saw a total of four films. Well, actually we saw three and a half films. Because of the parking situation caused by the Cherry Blossom Festival, we arrived late to the screening of Domestic Dramas, a program of narrative shorts from all over the world. We missed the first two of the shorts in the program titled “The Light,” and “Kitchen.” We were particularly bummed to have missed “The Light,” since it is a local entry from San Francisco.

The other shorts were interesting, particularly “Remain Upright!!” and “The Pretty Boy Project.” The “Pretty Boy Project” was about urban kids settling their disputes not with guns and knives, but with a double dutch jump rope competition. It was pretty damn funny. The producers, director, and cast for “The Pretty Boy Project” were on hand for the Q&A after the program.

The Pretty Boy Project
An actor from “The Pretty Boy Project” shows his lack of double dutch skills to the audience.

After Domestic Dramas, we retired to the press hospitality suite to check out another movie, Al Franken: God Spoke. We used the Kaleidescape kiosks to check this one out. It was an interesting film that followed the political pundit for two years, from the late 2003 of his bestselling book “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right” to his recent announcement that he is considering a run for the U.S. Senate representing the state of Minnesota in 2008.

We then left the suite and made our way to the screening of Perpetual Motion, a charming Chinese film by a female director that explores feminist themes. A woman invites her best friends to her home during the Spring Festival celebrations to figure out which one of them is sleeping with her husband. Witty dialogue and a mesmerizing meal scene involving chicken feet made for an entertaining look at the lives of Beijing upper-middle-class women.

Immediately following the screening of Perpetual Motion, we waited at the same theatre to watch Factotum. Starring Matt Dillon, the film is an adaptation of Charles Bukowski’s 1975 book by the same name. Although we weren’t fans of Bukowski’s work, we decided to see the film because Matt Dillon would be around for the Q&A. The film was very well made and interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes brutal. The film is a semi-autobiographical account of Bukowski’s own life, which included a lot of drinking, screwing and writing, usually in that order. Again, not our favorite, but well made.

Graham Leggat and Matt Dillon
Graham Leggat and Matt Dillon at the Factotum Q&A session.

At the factotum screening we met Jason Wiener, a consummate film fan that has been to three festivals and seen over 148 films this year, and it’s only April! It was such an amazing feat that I just had to take a picture with him. We had seen him the night before at the “Metal” screening and finally got a chance to talk to him for a few minutes. Immediately after the Factotum screening, he skipped before the Q&A with Matt Dillon to see another film, The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai. Jason is a true fan of film and not of celebrity and a really interesting guy. I hope to get a chance to interview him at length before the festival is over.

One interesting item of note is that during the Factotum film screening, which was being cycled through two projectors in adjoining theatres, the film jammed and the projector lamp burned through the film print in two places. I had seen this happen in films, but never in a live screening. The burn-through caused a 15 minute delay as the film was re-spliced together about two thirds of the way into the film and quite the discussion amongst those in the theatre. That was cool.

Please go to my Flickr 2006 SF Film Festival set for more photos from the festival.

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