The first quarter of 2015 brings a host of major foreign film releases to the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center. In January the Rafael again presents For Your Consideration, a selection of countries’ submissions to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Karen Davis and Janis Plotkin, senior programmers for the Mill Valley Film Festival, organized this series, with some of the films having also played at the recent MVFF.
Both foreign and English-language MVFF highlights return to our screens in several theatrical engagements: Mr. Turner, Beloved Sisters, Mommy, What We Do in the Shadows, Magician: The Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles and Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed.
But we’re also excited to offer some noteworthy releases that are new to theRafael and CFI, including the Russian Cannes-award-winner Leviathan and the outrageous Argentine Oscar-entry Wild Tales, a satire of human behavior chock-full of surprises.
As for more surprises in the category of coming attractions, we are happy to be working once again with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on two exclusive presentations at the Rafael. This will be our second edition of Hollywood Home Movies, featuring never-before-seen footage from the Academy Film Archive. In addition, Little Annie Rooney, a freshly restored Mary Pickford classic will grace our theater on tinted 35mm film. And for those following Science on Screen, we continue this ongoing series with two unique presentations this quarter.
People frequently ask whether or not a particular title will be coming to the Rafael. Often the answer is simple, but sometimes not. Our theatrical engagements, for the most part, are determined by the film’s distributor, which may or may not let us play the film we want, as well as by the timing of the movie’s release in the San Francisco Bay Area. A film might open in theaters one week after the Festival, but in other cases it could take more than a year to get to us, if at all. The most frustrating situation occurs when there are multiple titles available to us that need to open at the same time. After all, we only have three screens.
Some of the films in For Your Consideration have American distributors, but others don’t, and they may never find one. We have booked films from overseas distributors, just as we work eagerly and directly with individual American filmmakers, but it can be riskier and more expensive when we have the only theatrical engagement in the country and we’re “winging it,” creating our own marketing and publicity materials.
Whether or not we’re working with a distributor, we strive to provide our audiences with the best films and viewing experiences we can muster, ensuring that the Rafael is your first-choice location to see any film.