A Winter of Much Content at California Film Institute

MVFF41 wrapped in mid-October, and since then, the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center has been running full steam with successful theatrical bookings and a multitude of special events to appeal to all kinds of audience members. The popular documentary Free Solo, featured at MVFF, has been drawing in huge numbers of patrons since opening on Oct. 15 and still going strong well in to December. Other films featured at MVFF which have found favor with our Rafael audiences include Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Museo, Wildlife, Border, Shoplifters, and Maria By Callas, with additional MVFF titles Becoming Astrid, Bathtubs Over Broadway, Capernaum, and Cold War slated to open in the coming weeks. Additional theatrical runs have included Tea with the Dames, At Eternity’s Gate, and CFI Releasing’s Life and Nothing More, which opened nationwide to mass critical acclaim.

In addition to these popular runs, the CFI calendar has been crowded with a wealth of special event programs, produced by the Smith Rafael Film Center, CFI Education, CFI Membership Screenings, even the MVFF Mind The Gap Initiative!

Special events at the Rafael with filmmakers in attendance included Filmmakers Unite with Jay Rosenblatt and Ellen Bruno, Rodents of Unusual Size with Chris Metzler and Quinn Costello, special screenings of Aquí y Allá and Life and Nothing More with Antonio Méndez Esparza, two screenings of locally produced ’68 with Steven Kovacs, Dale Djerassi and Isabel Maxwell, The Prairie Trilogy with Rob Nilsson, An Evening with Katinka Faragó, script supervisor for Ingmar Bergman, as well as a screening of Wild Strawberries presented by Faragó, back to back screenings of Tombstone Rashomon and The Last Movie with cult director Alex Cox, and a screening of Harold Lloyd’s Speedy presented with live musical accompaniment from Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Additionally, the Rafael has presented a bevy of classical productions Live On Screen (The Merry Wives of Windsor, The King and I, Mayerling) and special one-off screenings of special interest films (Gilda, Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams, The Mercy, Welcome to the Men’s Group).


CFI Education has presented Education Screenings free to Bay Area students and Community Screenings free to the public of fascinating films that educate and inspire: Life After Life with film subject Noel Valdivia, Sr., Inventing Tomorrow with film subject Sahithi Pingali, From Baghdad to the Bay with director Erin Palmquist and film subject Ghazwan Alsharif, and a captivating and significant screening of I Am Maris, followed by a panel discussion with director Laura VanZee Taylor and film subjects Jenni Wendell and Sharon Degener and subject experts Caitlin Severin and Elizabeth Scott, part of CFI Education’s Teen Wellness series in partnership with Kaiser Permanente.

CFI Membership Screenings have brought in high wattage talent and acclaimed films appreciated by our fantastic CFI Members, including Capernaum with director Nadine Labacki, composer Khaled Mouzaner and star Zain Al Raffea, Leave No Trace with director Debra Granik, Black Panther with director Ryan Coogler presented by Film Comment Magazine and the Art House Convergence, First Man with director Damien Chazelle, as well as sneak preview screenings of highly anticipated films At Eternity’s Gate, Mary, Queen of Scots, and the upcoming On The Basis of Sex.

Most recently, CFI Membership and the Mind The Gap Initiative teamed up to present a screening of Nancy, with producer/star Andrea Riseborough and co-star J. Smith Cameron in attendance for a post-film onstage conversation and the presentation of the Mind The Gap award.

And that’s not all! Before the end of 2018, the Rafael will showcase The Royal Opera House’s Die Walküre, a wine-tasting/screening/panel event around the oenophile’s delight Somm 3, two screenings of the perennially popular series Deconstructing The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour and The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker. And the annual For Your Consideration program of Oscar© submissions from around the world has just been announced, featuring 14 international festival favorites screening Jan. 4 – 10, 2019! The California Film Institute truly is a home for the best in independent, international, educational, compelling, and inspirational cinema.


Ryan Coogler and Damien Chazelle © Steve Disenhof
Katinka Faragó and Richard Peterson © Kirke Wrench
Antonio Méndez Esparza © Chris Markisz
Ghazwan Alsharif and Erin Palmquist © Chris Markisz
Khaled Mouzaner, Nadine Labacki, and Zain Al Rafeea © Niki Scioli
J. Smith Cameron, Andrea Riseborough, and Zoë Elton © Kirke Wrench