SFIFF 2014 — Opening Night revels

Director Hossein Amini, with Rachel Rosen, Head of Programming and new Executive Director, Noah Cowan

What a wonderful homecoming!  Back in town for the San Francisco International Film Festival and hilariously, after a wonderful Opening Night film and party, a photo of me appears in the SF Chronicle!  My friend Joanne Parsont, Director of Education for the San Francisco Film Society, is attempting to share her gelato with a belly dancer from the party!

It’s not too often that you come to town for a film festival and show-up in the paper the next day!

http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/S-F-International-Film-Festival-draws-fans-but-5429366.php#photo-6216747

Belly dancers need gelato too!

The 57th SFIFF, the oldest running film festival in the Americas, presented the Opening Night film at the glorious Castro Theater.  The Two Faces of January directed by Hossein Amini was a crowd-pleaser with strong performances and beautiful cinematography.  A directorial debut for the celebrated screenwriter of Wings of the Dove and Drive, it was surprising that the story was the weakest link.  An adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith thriller, it was difficult not to compare it to The Talented  Mr Ripley. There just wasn’t enough tension or plot-twists and though suspenseful; The Two Faces of January  seemed a bit flat.  Oscar Isaacs gives another remarkable performance as a man in over his head and Viggo Mortenson has a chilling turn but there was sense of waiting for the twist that never came…

The party at Public Works was light on food but not crowded. There was a lively crowd of film-lovers and a great band–there was dancing and libations and fun to be had!  Even the drizzle outside was offset by the Indian Street Food truck serving tater tots covered in masala sauce and cheese.  As the belly-dancers shimmied in the night, we devoured the gelato and celebrating the kick-off of another world-class event!

 

Ever watch a film that made you hungry? “Lunchbox” and a craving for Indian food!

There are some films that leave you feeling moved, uplifted, or even enraged.  The Lunchbox left me craving Indian food!  Such a delightful film and oh, the food…best to plan a lunch at a nearby Indian restaurant immediately following! (If you’re living in Boulder, CO– THE LUNCHBOX is playing at the Century Cinemark, and there’s a fabulous Indian buffet at http://www.tandoorigrillboulder.com/)

The Misplaced Dappa–a hidden note from “The Lunchbox”

The wonderful actor, Irrfan Khan, from Slumdog Millionaire and the lovely Nimrat Kaur, star as the couple that meet through the accidental delivery of a lovingly-prepared lunch box that a housewife hopes will inspire her husband to become affectionate once more.  Instead, an accountant that is unhappy at his job, begins a note exchange that will change both their lives!

There are a few too many scenes of train travel, following the lunch bag as it makes it’s way across the busy city and as Saajan travels to and from work.  But watching Ila preparing her gourmet lunches with the help of her upstairs “Auntie” is a real delight!

Sometimes “the wrong train can take you to the right station” and in this film, the touching drama of normal people in India that are trying to make a connection, you will be transported.  And, you may find yourself hungry…not just for food; but perhaps for a meaningful connection for yourself!

Rating: 4 cups of Indian tea

Bechdel Rating: Passes, there are discussions of the mother and daughter that do not involve relationships and the discovery of the young mother that her own mother wants more from life than surviving her husband’s death

“Playing House” with her store-bought family

Aside

In case you missed this, Suzanne Heintz has a wonderful short film that you would just love!

Drinks with films

Susan Heintz in Paris

“…for Women, the path to fulfillment is not through one thing, it’s through all things; Education, Career, Home, Family, Accomplishment, Enlightenment. If any one of those things is left out, it’s often perceived that there’s something wrong with your life. We are somehow never enough, just as we are. Even if we do have a finger in each of those pies, there is never enough time to do any of them to our satisfaction. We are constantly set up by our expectations to feel as though we are missing something.

I thought it was high time to call this nonsense out publicly, because this notion of insufficiency is not just about me, nor exclusively about Women in regards to Marriage. It’s about anyone whose life doesn’t look the way it “should.” Rarely does anyone’s life turn out the way it was expected, and if by some…

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“Playing House” with her store-bought family

Aside

Susan Heintz in Paris

 

“…for Women, the path to fulfillment is not through one thing, it’s through all things; Education, Career, Home, Family, Accomplishment, Enlightenment. If any one of those things is left out, it’s often perceived that there’s something wrong with your life. We are somehow never enough, just as we are. Even if we do have a finger in each of those pies, there is never enough time to do any of them to our satisfaction. We are constantly set up by our expectations to feel as though we are missing something.

I thought it was high time to call this nonsense out publicly, because this notion of insufficiency is not just about me, nor exclusively about Women in regards to Marriage. It’s about anyone whose life doesn’t look the way it “should.” Rarely does anyone’s life turn out the way it was expected, and if by some miracle it does, what they expected isn’t what they thought it was. I’m simply trying to get people to open up their minds, and quit clinging to outdated assumptions of what a successful life looks like. I want people to lighten up on each other, and themselves, and embrace their lives for who it’s made them, with or without the Mrs., PhD. or Esq. attached to your name.”

When Suzanne Heintz was told by her mother, “Suzy, there’s nobody perfect out there. You just need to PICK somebody, if you’re going to settle down.” She snapped back, “Mom! It’s not like I can go out and BUY a family! I can’t just MAKE it happen!” But then, she did!

Suzanne went out and purchased the perfect Family… of Mannequins. This inspiration led to an entire series of staged family moments with her “Store-Bought Family”.  From a Photography class project in 2000, to an annual Christmas card sent to family and friends, Suzanne’s photos began to be shared and enjoyed by more and more people.  She discovered that even the process of taking the photographs in public spaces became a way to connect with people.  It was enjoyable making people laugh but perhaps more importantly; starting a conversation about social conventions.  It was difficult to transport the mannequins and props to locations but the work felt important.  As Suzanne says, “work has to be difficult to be a genuine success”.

Last June, she went to Paris.  And she brought her Perfect Family.  The idea was to shot some photos in Paris and film the process.  When she returned from her trip, Suzanne’s editor love the footage so much and he told her that the footage was crying out to be a film!  In less than a year, Playing House was completed.

Suzanne poses with her husband, Chauncey

Suzanne poses with her husband, Chauncey

The short film premiered at the Women + Film Voices Film Festival in Denver on March 21, 2014 and was greeted with much laughter and cheers.

Suzanne's "husband" Chauncey

Suzanne’s “husband” Chauncey

A producer from another film in the festival, Karen Whitehead, is now interested in taking Playing House out on the film festival circuit.  Suzanne is looking for a gallery to host a show of her large-format photographs and her work continues to inspire people from around the world through her postings on her Facebook page and the great press she is receiving.  How pleased she must be, to see that she has struck a cord with people from all over the world.  It seems she’s not the only one who’s tired of the pressure to find the Perfect Family!

http://www.suzanneheintz.com/

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 glasses of French Champagne
Bechdel Rating: passes with flying colors