New York Stories – Lost in San Francisco

Nights with Theodore

By Glenn Dunks
May 16, 2013

There’s a wide world of cinema out there, and Quickflix’s Glenn Dunks is on the ground in New York City bringing you the titles that will soon be seen in Australian cinemas, and eventually available on home entertainment.

In this special report, Glenn briefly leaves behind the Big Apple to detail his unique experience as a juror at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival; America’s oldest film fest.

More than 75 years old, FIPRESCI is the most respected organisation of film critics in the world. Comprised of writers from over 50 countries, the collective known as the International Federation of Film Critics dole out prizes at festivals around the globe. From the glitz and glamour of Cannes, Venice, and Toronto, to relatively unheralded festivals in Albania, Spain, Kazakhstan and beyond. Note that no Australian festivals feature a FIPRESCI jury anymore, for reasons best left in the dark. I guess we just like to be different.

During the first week of May, I attended the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival with Mario Abbade from Brazil, and Vincent Musetto from the USA (Musetto was the New York Post editor behind one of the most famous headlines of all time). We watched eleven flicks directed by first or second time directors and saw some true magnificence. Many audiences will sadly never get to see them, but amongst the jury contenders I especially hope Australian filmgoers eventually get to witness Nicolas Wackerbarth’s Everyday Objects, which distils one woman’s unorganised life down to seemingly insignificant beats, Adrian Saba’s The Cleaner, a dry-as-dust Peruvian picture about a sweeping plague and the man on clean-up duty, and Brazilian director Marcelo Lordello’s They’ll Come Back, concerning a young girl left on the side of the road by her tempestuous parents.

Being the oldest film festival in America holds sufficient clout, and combined with the respectability of FIPRESCI, my fellow jurors and I had to be certain of our selection. Upon deliberation we listed our top three titles and one rose to the top: Sébastien Betbeder’s Nights with Théodore. We praised it for its “bold and inventive take on narrative and structure,” and hailed it a “glowing testament to a new generation of French filmmakers.” Despite being only 67 minutes long – or maybe because of it; festivals are quite tiring in between the movies, the parties, and the hobnobbing! – it was my personal favourite of the festival. Thankfully, I didn’t have to fight hard to reward it and I (obviously) can’t recommend it enough if the chance arises to see it.

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