Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival—the longest-running film festival in the Americas—San Francisco Film Society feeds the cinematic passions of fans, filmmakers, and students, showcasing more than 300 films every year. The Film Enthusiast membership entitles movie mavens to a plethora of perks worth rubbing in the noses of adversarial cinephiles who won’t stop boasting about how much popcorn they can eat in one sitting. Members also get the skinny on San Francisco International Film Festival special events and screenings, running April 21-May 5.
In the 74 years between the Paramount Theatre's opening night, when people used to line up to see “talkies” for 50 cents, and 2002, when it was voted Best Mainstage Theatre in a Seattle Weekly Reader's Poll, the palatial venue faded and decayed alongside its Roaring Twenties brethren throughout America. Luckily, former Microsoft Vice President Ida Cole saved it from the rubble heap in the mid-‘90s when she established the Seattle Landmark Association and vowed to render the Paramount "kissable" once again.
Over the course of seven months, the renovation crew expanded the size of the stage wings to accommodate more ambitious live productions. They also cleared decades of grime from the french baroque plaster reliefs, uncovering long-forgotten designs and causing only one long-dormant horror to snap open its eyes dramatically. They also replaced the gold leaf in the floral designs of the wall medallions, repainted all the surfaces in their original 16 colors, and scrubbed each of the 1.6 million crystal beads in the chandelier by hand with a toothbrush. The original Knabe Ampico player piano was returned to its spot on the four-tiered lobby's lush carpeting, and a 21st-century sound system now shares sonic space with the thundering, luminous sonority of the Paramount's fully restored Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Though the Paramount's calendar runs the gamut from rock concerts to standup comedy to Broadway musicals on the scale of Wicked, its decadent Beaux Arts trappings transport audiences to the days when reality was still black and white.
In the current landscape of big-box stores and chain restaurants, many fear the dissolution of the small business. The worry is understandable, as many of these local ventures are what give cities, towns, and neighborhoods their distinctive flavor. It doesn't help that, on average, only 13% of the money spent at corporately-owned emporiums actually finds its way back to the community. This means that 87% of the dollars spent find themselves in a faraway bank account with nothing but a distant memory of the newborn pennies they left behind at home. When people give local shops and restaurants their business, however, an average of 45% of their money goes toward keeping the area and its unique culture thriving.
Fueled by this understanding, the folks at Localize It! helm The Alameda Summer Stroll, an evening of neighborhood appreciation, art, and live music. During certain days throughout the season, participants meander along several streets of the bay-adjacent burg to peruse the goods from local operations and sample locally crafted food, beer, and wine. They can even participate in a wine tasting and food pairings, as well as take advantage of discounts at area restaurants, such as Pasta Pelican, Calafia Taqueria, and East Ocean Seafood Restaurant. Along the way, neighborhood crawlers can stop to take in the musical strains of Jim Parodi and Friends or admire masterpieces by local Alameda and Oakland artists.
At each of several one-day festivals held throughout the country, thousands of revelers unite in an epic clash of pulp, beer, and live music. Armed with a cache of 300,000 tomatoes, participants don protective bathing suits and goggles and hurl the fruit at one another during a two-hour battle. Throughout the afternoon, live music and costume contests offer an entertaining respite from the front lines, as bartenders dispense drafts of beer to attendees older than 21, refueling soldiers' morale before they resign to writing goodbye letters to their produce vendors back home. All tomatoes used during the event are past ripe and already fated for disposal, making the battle an efficient means of tossing them before their cursed transformation into singing Muppets.
The seasoned event coordinators from Dance San Francisco and SalsaCrazy channel their experience into Taste Fridays, a weekly festival that combines bustling gourmet local fare and with infectious Latin rhythms. Each Friday night, guest mixologists or local fare vendors assemble on an outdoor patio to dole out samples of handheld fare, gourmet cocktails, or demonstrations of their craft, and performances of the pancake-flipping scene from Hamlet. While the festival’s vendor list rotates weekly, past guests include Alicia's Tamales, Rocket Fish, and The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. After attendees eat, they filter into inside to the Café Cocomo's dance floor, where instructors lead them through the footwork of salsa and bachata, ensuring feet obey their masters without the need for obedience training. As live music from guest Latin musicians and bands fills the space, guests can mingle and dance until 2 a.m.
The Women's Film Institute celebrates the contribution of women to the art of filmmaking, drawing attention to underrecognized female camera-wielders and script scribblers. Entering its seventh year, the festival curates a collection of cinematic triumphs created by women from around the globe and super-women from around the universe. Important issues enjoy reanimation in documentaries such as Atomic Mom, copresented by the International Museum of Women, which recounts two mothers' contrasting experiences when the United States dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. Like a magic school bus, fiction movies help viewers dive into other people's imaginations, with films including Martha and Dee Visit the Fifth Dimension, in which Martha escapes from her neglectful suburban parents and, along with Dee, her invisible friend, embarks on an urban adventure, discovering the meaning of the universe.