Here you will find articles on some of our favorite Festival moments. Read about audience members dancing in the aisles of the Castro Theatre at the world premiere of Stop Making Sense, Shelley Winters tearing up on the Festival stage as she reminisces about her career and Michelangelo Antonioni flying in from the set of Zabriskie Point to sit for a Festival tribute. We will frequently update this page with more of our great moments.
Nestor Almendros: The International Cinéaste
The cinematographer of choice for Eric Rohmer and Terrence Malick arrives at the 1986 Festival for a tribute.
Michelangelo Antonioni: A Reverential Tribute, Hippies and All
In the midst of shooting his first American production (Zabriskie Point) in 1968, Michelangelo Antonioni stopped by the Festival for a tribute. Students and film lovers flooded the Masonic Auditorium for a glimpse of their idol.
Bernardo Bertolucci: Between Epics and Experimentation
Bertolucci, honored with a tribute at the SFIFF in 1979, defends his controversial Luna and offers his thoughts on the American cinema.
Les Blank: Shooting Gumbo, Gillespie and Gurus with Gumption
At the 38th SFIFF, San Francisco Mayor Frank M. Jordan proclaims Les Blank Day.
Jean-Claude Brialy: From Playing the Homme Fatale to the Director’s Chair
At the 16th International, one of the New Wave’s leading men celebrates his directorial debut and shares stories about working with Chabrol and Rohmer.
Truman Capote: An "Infamous" Writer Discusses His Work for the Screen
At the Festival's first tribute to a screenwriter in 1974, the legendary writer regaled the crowd with tales of his Hollywood career.
John Cassavetes: Doing the Unfashionable Thing
Independent filmmaker John Cassavetes made two memorable appearances at the International: in 1970, for a tribute to the director's early improvisational films Shadows and Faces; and again in 1984, accompanied by his wife and frequent acting partner Gena Rowlands.
Lester Cole and Gale Sondergaard: Free Speech Has Always Been Unvanquished
at Our Festival
The screenwriter, a member of the Hollywood Ten, and the blacklisted actress recalled their struggles in McCarthy-era Hollywood at the 1976 San Francisco International.
Francis Ford Coppola: A Fog City Maverick Comes Home for a Tribute
Coppola, one of the Bay Area’s own, sits for a tribute at the 1972 Festival to discuss his predirectorial work as a screenwriter, the success of The Godfather and the plans for its upcoming sequel.
Sofia Coppola: A Fizzy Debut
The heir to the Coppolas' cinematic throne accompanies her feature-film debut at the Opening Night of the 43rd San Francisco International in 2000.
Bette Davis: A Larger-Than-Life Star
It was all about Bette on November 1, 1969 when the First Lady of Film was honored with a tribute at the 13th SFIFF. She brought down the house with her spitfire wisecracks and wistful reminiscences of old Hollywood.
del Rio Charmed Audiences for Over 50 Years
She went from Hollywood sex symbol to become a major presence in Mexican cinema. At the age of 76 Dolores del Rio appeared on the stage of the Palace of Fine Arts theater the evening of October 11, 1981 for an unforgettable tribute at the 25th San Francisco International Film Festival.
Guinness Brought Depth and Complexity to His Characters
In his early films Alec Guinness became known for his droll comedy, but in the course of a long and distinguished career, brought an equal depth and complexity to drama, adventure and even science fiction. On Opening Night in 1979, he wowed the black-tie crowd with his wit and charm.
Huston Attends a Festival That Has Value
In San Francisco, columnist Herb Caen wrote that the Film Festival's 1968 Opening Night looked like a rerun of the Academy Awards of 1937, and he didnt mean it as a compliment.
Abbas Kiarostami: The Director Behind Dark Glasses
Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, never a fan of conventionality, shocked the audience after receiving the 2000 Akira Kurosawa Award by promptly giving it away to honor actor Behrouz Vossoughi.
Akira Kurosawa: Film Is the Tie That Binds the World Together
Eight taiko drummers pounded out a welcome, and Akira Kurosawa stepped up on the stage, tall, slim, and elegant. Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, who had helped him finance his latest film, Kagemusha, joined him on stage at the 1980 SFIFF.
Burt Lancaster: An Original Independent
At a 1976 tribute, Lancaster discusses the many transformations of his career: from circus performer-turned-Hollywood star to actor-producer hyphenate and international iconoclast.
David Lean: A Director of Epics Gets the Grand Treatment
Lean, accompanied by screenwriter David Bolt, offers his argument against improvised filmmaking and for story in film.
Jack Lemmon: The Cinematic Everyman in the Spotlight
Billy Wilder's favorite ham looks back on a career of playing loveable losers at a 1975 tribute.
Jeanne Moreau: The Grande Dame of the New Wave
The 1974 Festival hosts "a veritable orgy" of a tribute to the leading lady of choice for François Truffaut, Louis Malle and Luis Buñuel.
Paul Morrissey: The New York Underground Surfaces in San Francisco
Paul Morrissey, the Factory's house director, stirred up the Festival at 1972 tribute.
Jack Nicholson: The Rebel Meets his Public
Fresh off his Oscar win for One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, the defining actor of his generation sat for a tribute at the 1976 San Francisco International. In an onstage interview, he chatted about difficult leading ladies, working under independent producer Roger Corman and falling into his role in Easy Rider.
Pickford: Beyond Sugar and Spice
Shes been called the biggest movie star that ever was. Bigger than Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor. She was the hottest thing in Hollywood in 1917. And she served as the "official hostess" of the San Francisco International in 1960.
Jean Renoir: There Is Mystery in the Soul of the Artist
In a very personal sense, Jean Renoir was a key inspiration to great figures in the humanist film tradition. and his films continue to inspire filmmakers even today. In 1960, near the end of his filmmaking career, Renoir was invited to serve on the Golden Gate Awards jury.
Ousmane Sembène: Making Films to Fight Injustice
Smoking away at his pipe, Sembène (the “Father of African cinema”) receives the Akira Kurosawa Award at the 36th SFIFF.
Talking Heads: Dancing in the Aisles
At the 1984 Festival, Heads fans came out in droves for the world premiere of the band's concert film Stop Making Sense.
Andrei Tarkovsky: The Man in the Pointed Shoes
The Cuban Missile Crisis was on: President Kennedy threatened to initiate a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union over its placement of missiles in Cuba. Fortunately for all of us, Krushchev withdrew the missiles, and a delegation of Soviet filmmakers attended the Sixth San Francisco International Film Festival in October of 1962.
Truffaut: The Man Who Loved Movies
The film lion of the moment, Frances François Truffaut, was to be the subject of a tribute that fall evening in 1973. Only 42, Truffaut had captured the hearts of millions of filmgoers with his charming films.
Shelley Winters: An Accidentally on Purpose Career
After a failed attempt two years earlier, Winters finally arrived for her tribute at the San Francisco International in 1976.