Friday, January 2, 2015

Another year, another Noir City

After a busy, blurry year, where seasons pass unnoticed in the endless summer of California, I am made aware of the movement of time again by a certain pooling of shadows, a coagulation of whispers and rumors, and a certain ambiance in the December night of San Francisco. Just as I begin to worry that I am alone in experiencing this mien of gloom in the sun-spattered and sparkling Bay Area, I see it: the Noir City Xmas double feature at the Castro Theatre.  Relief floods over me as I realize the event of the year is approaching: the 13th annual Noir City Film Festival.  A community of sharply dressed riffraff will eschew the light and brittle optimism of the City for one week, lead by Eddie Muller, San Francisco's "Czar of Noir," into the doom and sleaze of film noir.   

Put on by the Film Noir Foundation, Noir City brings a unique and rare assortment of films, many saved from the brink of destruction and never seen on American soil.  This year's theme is "unholy matrimony" and will explore the darker side of the sacred union of marriage.  The tone of this festival is most excellently expressed in the awesome story behind this year's poster.

Highlights include restored versions of Woman on the Run and The Guilty, and I am personally excited to see Shockproof and Seconds, two of my favorites, on the big screen.  Proceeds from the festival feed directly back into the Film Noir Foundation's restoration and preservation projects.  Film as an art form is quite similar to the characters of a noir flick, who are doomed from the outset by virtue of the structures they are inscribed within.  Combustible and prone to disintegration, often lost or deliberately destroyed, older films are treasures that require active intervention to be kept alive.  The enthusiastic community that gathers here each year also contributes to the ongoing preservation and restoration of films through their patronage of the FNF.

Fond memories of last year included burlesque dancing, a very special film featuring footage of the rubble of post-war Berlin, and guest-speaker Fernando Peña, the sleuth who unearthed the long-lost full and uncut version of Metropolis, .  Can't wait to see what this year has in store!

 Noir City 13:  'Til Death Do Us Part runs from January 16th through the 25th at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

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