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Mostly British Film Festival 2017
Out There: Triple-Feature Threat
By Roberto Friedman Bay Area Reporter Saturday Dec 10, 2016
The Mostly British Film Festival will offer a free holiday triple feature on Wed., Dec. 14, 7 p.m. at the Vogue Theater in San Francisco. San Francisco Chronicle movie correspondent Ruthe Stein, who recently wrote her Oscar predictions for the Chron’s Pink Pages, will discuss leading nominees in all of the top categories, and show trailers from frontrunners like “La La Land,” “Fences,” “Arrival,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Silence.”
Stein also will preview the 2017 Mostly British Film Festival and screen trailers from opening and closing nights, as well as from special programs like “The Beatles on Film.” Series passes can be purchased for the reduced price of $125 for that night only. Individual tickets will also be for sale. The first 35 people to buy a pass on Dec. 14 will be invited to be guests at the residence of the Consul General of Portugal for a port-tasting party in conjunction with the festival screening of “A Year in Port.” That’s what we call a perk!
Finally, intrepid triple-feature-goers will be treated to three British and Irish shorts that won Oscars in the “Best Short Film, Live Action” category. Out There knows them all, and they are touching and unforgettable films.
“Six Shooter” (2006) is written and directed by the esteemed Irish playwright Martin McDonagh (“The Beauty Queen of Leenane”). Brendan Gleeson stars as a man whose wife has just died. On the train going home from the hospital he encounters a chatty young man whose violent tirades upset a young couple who have just lost their baby.
In “Phone Call” (2013), Sally Hawkins stars as a support person at a helpline call center who fights her shyness to be able to connect on a call from a mystery man (Jim Broadbent). And the final Oscar winner is “The Stutterer” (2015), which focuses on a handsome young man who feels isolated from the world because he can’t control his stutter, but who is able to sustain an online relationship.
For free tickets, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, put “triple feature” in the header, and indicate if you want one or two tickets. You will receive a response. Thanks, MBFF!
Mostly British film fest puts veteran editor in spotlight
By Leslie Katz on February 7, 2017 12:01 am
On Feb. 21, San Francisco’s ninth annual Mostly British Film Festival is hosting an extra special guest: 91-year-old British film editor Anne V. Coates, whose six-decade career credits include “Lawrence of Arabia,” for which she won an Oscar.
She’s slated to appear in conversation with film historian David Thomson at the Vogue Theatre, at a screening of “Murder on the Orient Express,” which is among the many films she edited. (She has quite a range, from “The Red Shoes” in 1949 to 2015’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” with “The Elephant Man,” “What About Bob?,” “Striptease” and others in between.)
Running Feb. 16 through 23, the festival’s centerpiece film is “The Sense of an Ending,” an adaptation of English writer Julian Barnes’ elegant Booker Prize-winning novel, which critics called “a meditation on aging, memory and regret.” Screening Feb. 20, the film stars Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Michelle Dockery and Emily Mortimer; director Ritesh Batra, who earned rave reviews for 2013’s “The Lunchbox,” will attend.
The Feb. 16 program is “Their Finest,” a romantic comedy by director Lone Scherfig (“An Education”). Starring Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton, the movie is about a British film crew making propaganda films, trying to boost morale during World War II. Nighy will be interviewed by American Conservatory Theater Artistic Director Carey Perloff on opening night.
Not all of the films are British. Irish films are in the spotlight on Feb. 19: They include a coming-of-age drama “Twice Shy” in which young couple takes a road trip from rural Ireland to London; “Mammal,” a story of bereavement starring Rachel Griffiths as a woman who loses a son, then starts up a seemingly unlikely friendship with a homeless boy; and “Handsome Devil,” a breezy coming-of-age tale about Irish school kids.
Among the Australian films in the lineup is “Alex and Eve,” an adaptation of a hit stage play about a Greek Orthodox schoolteacher living in Sydney who falls for a Lebanese Muslim lawyer, screening Feb. 23, and, the closing night feature “The Daughter,” a family drama starring Geoffrey Rush loosely based on Henrik Ibsen’s “The Wild Duck.”
On Feb. 22, another highlight is “A Quiet Passion,” starring Cynthia Nixon — Miranda from “Sex and the City” — as American poet Emily Dickinson. The 2016 film by is by British director Terence Davies of “Distant Voices, Still Lives” fame. Other offerings in the 26-film roster include British noir selections (Feb. 17) and a tribute to the Beatles (Feb. 18).
Anne V. Coates, the Orient Express, & the Mostly British Film Festival
By Lincoln Spector February 22, 2017
Tuesday night, I finally got around to attending the Mostly British Film Festival at the Vogue. How could I miss it? David Thomson would be interviewing the great, British film editor, Anne V. Coates. And after the talk, there would be a screening of Sidney Lumet’s 1974 version of Murder On the Orient Express.
Coates, who turned 91 in December, has one of the longest careers in cinema history. She was a full-fledged film editor in 1952. Her last film (assuming she doesn’t come out of retirement), was 2015’s 50 Shades of Gray. In between, she cut The Horse’s Mouth, Becket, Erin Brokovich, and 50 other films. She won an Oscar for Lawrence of Arabia.
The event started, as these things usually do, with clips from her films. Some of the choices seemed odd. A scene from Tunes of Glory had only two cuts. But the last one, from Out of Sight, truly showed the hands of a brilliant editor.
Then Coates and Thomson came to the front of the theater and had a conversation. Here are some highlights, edited for clarity and brevity:
- Start a film career in post-war England: You couldn’t work unless you were in the union and you couldn’t get in the union unless you were working.
- I thought it would be really interesting to tell stories [on film]. I wanted to be a director. But women couldn’t do that back then. The most interesting thing they could do was editing.
- Why did the industry let women edit? They have more patience. I have a theory: Directors need mothers.
- I think of myself as an actor’s editor.
- I never regretted not becoming a director. You have to give up too much of your life. With an editor, if you’re a little late in the morning, it doesn’t really matter.
- On the transition to digital editing: I did prefer working on film. Somehow, digital was not as peaceful. But one day I realized we’re doing the same thing. Than I was much happier.
After the one-on-one discussion, Thomson turned his microphone over the audience for more Q&A:
Has digital technology changed the business of editing? I don’t think it’s different. The speed of cutting is faster, but that’s not necessarily good. You need to stop and think.
Did you ever experience discrimination as a woman: I was lucky that way. There were some directors who didn’t want women editors. But other directors wanted them.
I was never an editor on The Red Shoes. I was only a Second Assistant.
On following other editor’s work: You cut from the heart. I never tried to do what other people did.
On actors: Bill Murray is very funny, but he never does the same thing twice. That makes him difficult to cut.
Do editors have styles? You have a different style for different pictures. I like to think that I don’t have a style.
After the Q&A and a brief intermission, the festival screened Murder on the Orient Express – edited, of course, by Anne V. Coates.
I didn’t care for it. Overloaded with production values and movie stars, Murder keeps you arm’s length from any emotional reaction. With the familiar faces of Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Tony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, and many more big stars popping up in supporting roles, the movie feels like an expensive casting stunt.
Albert Finney plays the actual lead, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. But he plays the famous detective as a caricature. I’d give the movie a C-.
Not everyone agrees with me. My wife, who loves mystery novels, enjoyed the movie much more than I did.
But I really wasn’t there to see the movie. I was there for Coates. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Mostly British film fest is an only-in-SF effort
By David Lewis Feb. 8, 2017 Updated: Feb. 8, 2017 11:18 a.m.
The Mostly British Film Festival, which opens its ninth edition in San Francisco on Thursday, Feb. 16, doesn’t have any of its origins across the Pond, unless you consider McCovey Cove the Pond.
Indeed, the story of this up-and-coming British-friendly festival began with the creation of AT&T Park — and the friendships between two Giants executives and former Chronicle movie editor and writer Ruthe Stein, who came up with an idea for a film event that may be the only one of its kind in the nation.
This year’s festival at the Vogue Theatre promises another stellar roster, starting with “Their Finest,” a comic look at British filmmakers who try to lift the country’s spirits during World War II. The film stars veteran actor Bill Nighy (“Love Actually,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”), who will be interviewed onstage after the movie.
Before wrapping up Feb. 23, the cozy neighborhood festival — every event occurs in Lower Pacific Heights — will unspool 25 films, many of which will otherwise never screen theatrically in the United States. Some of the films are independent gems; some are headlined by Oscar winners and nominees, including Jim Broadbent, Rachel Griffiths, Charlotte Rampling and Geoffrey Rush.
Jack Bair, executive vice president and general counsel for the Giants, admits that before getting involved with the festival, he didn’t know much about movies from the English-speaking nations that the festival celebrates. But, he says, “I’ve come to love these films. I watch more and more of them every year, from all the countries.”
“We have all our countries represented this year,” said Stein, referring to the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and India. “The better-known distributors now know our festival and are letting us screen some of their best films.”
The birth and rise of the Mostly British Film Festival is a classic San Francisco-is-a-small-town kind of tale.
In the early 1990s, Bair was working on the site selection and design of what would become AT&T Park. Assisting him was then-San Francisco Planning Director Dean Macris — Stein’s husband. Everyone became friends, and the men’s efforts would help establish AT&T Park as one of baseball’s crown jewels.
Flash forward to 2002: Bair and pal Alfonso Felder, the Giants’ vice president of administration, have embraced a new project that involves preserving another kind of jewel: San Francisco’s rapidly disappearing one-screen theaters.
Bair and Felder formed the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, which purchased the historic Vogue Theatre in 2007, rescuing it from condo development.
“It is one of the oldest operating theaters in the world,” Bair said. “It opened in 1910, when film was in its infancy.”
But Bair and Felder needed interesting programming to make their investment work. A new film festival would be an ideal addition, but how does one carve out a niche in a region loaded with every kind of festival imaginable?
That’s when Stein, who as a movie editor and writer knew (and still knows) her way around the festival circuit, came up with her novel concept: an international film festival with no subtitles. The Mostly British Film Festival was born.
Festival founder Stein would be in charge of programming, publicity and hospitality; Bair would handle film traffic and accounting; and Felder would continue his duties as president of the neighborhood theater fund, which still operates the Vogue.
With Stein’s movie acumen and Bair and Felder’s know-how on big events, this was a lineup of heavy hitters, but the bench was hardly deep. “Everyone is a volunteer,” Stein said.
Stein said she’s done everything from placing furniture on the stage to rolling out the red carpet for opening night. And she will be delivering the goods for the festival’s Port-tasting event on Friday, Feb. 17, in conjunction with the showing of the documentary “A Year in Port.”
But the hands-on nature of the festival only adds to the down-home charm, and the organizers are pleased that the Mostly British has made a splash, just like one of Barry Bonds’ long balls into McCovey Cove.
“The festival has a following and is keeping the Vogue vibrant,” Bair said, noting that festival earnings go back to the theater. “People like the idea that they’re supporting a nostalgic place.”
Stein added: “There are lots of Anglophiles in San Francisco who are delighted to see these films. I’m starting to tell the difference between all these accents.”
Australian American Chamber of Commerce San Francisco
Mostly British Film Festival
Start 16 Feb 2017
End 23 Feb 2017
Location Vogue Theater, SF
The Mostly British Film Festival was created by Ruthe Stein and Jack Bair eight years ago to bring to Bay Area audiences the best in cinema from the UK, Ireland, Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa. For many of our films this is the only opportunity to see them in a theater. We have shown local premieres of such films as “56 Up,” “Hunger,” “Red Riding Trilogy,” “Lunchbox” and “London River.” The directors represented at the festival include John Boorman, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh and the actors are Colin Firth, Ewan McGregor, Cate Blanchett, Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling, to name just some. Our guests of honor have been Malcolm McDowell, Minnie Driver, Michael York and Joel Edgerton.