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article imageOp-Ed: A 'noir Noel' ushers in San Francisco's Noir City film fest 12 Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Dec 8, 2013 in Entertainment
San Francisco - No doubt the recent cold snap that has swept across the U.S. even to California, will add to the mood of the upcoming Noir City Film Festival which will start selling tickets on Dec. 18 the day of its 'mini-fest' called Noir City Xmas.
The cold weather will give fans of the festival like Jenifer Strickland and Morgan Von Rueden another reason to dress up. "I love the clothes of the time-period," said Strickland. When film noir as a cinematic art form reached its peak by the mid-20th Century, people's attire during the 1940s and '50s was more formal than today. Yet many of the themes, story-lines and of course the dark mood is something audiences of today can relate to very well.
Hidden intrigues, forbidden or misunderstood passions and lots of subtle twists and turns are what make film noir a classic cinematic art form. "I must say, I'm intrigued, by the theme for this year's upcoming Noir City festival in January," said Strickland. "But I'd need to study the list to really answer (on what I would like to see)."
The theme of this year's 12 annual Noir City will be its international selection. As communications director of the Film Noir Foundation Anne Hockens points out, "this year's film noir festival is going international, exploding the long-held belief that noir stories and style are a specifically an American phenomenon."
The festival serves as not only a vehicle to "re-feature" these classic films but it also helps promote the preservation and restoration work the foundation does. The Film Noir Foundation is a non-profit public benefit corporation created as an educational resource regarding the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of film noir as an original American cinematic movement. "It is our mission to find and preserve films in danger of being lost or irreparably damaged, said Hockens, and to ensure that high quality prints of these classic films remain in circulation for theatrical exhibition to future generations."
Focusing on the years immediately following World War II, this year's Noir City festival features classic noir films from France, Mexico, Japan, Argentina, Germany, Spain, Norway, and Britain, as well as a complementary sampling of homegrown Hollywood product. Familiar American stars such as Robert Mitchum, Ava Gardner, Orson Welles, Dan Duryea, and Lizabeth Scott will share the Castro Theater screen with international superstars Jean Gabin, Olga Zubarry, Toshiro Mifune, Ninón Sevilla and Yves Montand.
"I've seen a fair bit of British noir, said Strickland, that I've enjoyed, but not much else." She like her fellow noir film fan Von Rueden is eager to read-through the program selection more closely. The 27 films in the festival's line up will conclusively prove that the cinematic movement known as "Noir" spanned the globe, and its style, sexiness, and cynicism crossed all international borders, noted Hockens.
"Our desire to expand the scope of the festival has resulted in our most ambitious program ever," said festival impresario and host Eddie Muller. He helped establish the foundation and the festival over a decade ago. Since that time Muller's love of film noir has become his career and perhaps his life's work. "Its overall impact will, I suspect, said Muller, change many people's long-standing ethnocentric preconceptions about film noir."
Noir City 2012 s theme will be International  featuring noir films from all over the world. We are e...
Noir City 2012's theme will be International, featuring noir films from all over the world. We are exploding the long-held belief that noir film stories and style are a specifically American phenomenon," said Anne Hockens, communications director for the Film Noir Foundation.
Courtesy of The Film Noir Foundation
Muller and Hockens hope that as ticket sales for Noir City begin on Dec. 18, for the start of the festival in January, movie goers will consider joining in a prelude or mini-fest also on Dec. 18 just in time for the holiday season.
Celebrate the holidays in proper noir style with one of the bleakest films ever set during the Christmas season with the 1961 noir film "Blast of Silence." As Hockens describes the plot, "a taciturn hitman Frankie Bono (played by the film's director Allen Baron) returns to his childhood haunts in New York for a quick 'Noël knockoff,' only to be tortured by the ghosts of Christmases past. Will Frankie make it to a New Year? Hocken notes that it is "a unique and spellbinding low-budget indie that's a singular bridge between classic '40s' film noir and the cinema verité style of the '60s. Baron also wrote and produced the film.
And to complete the double-feature for the Noir City Xmas mini-fest, Muller and Hockens are pleased to have a one-time only screening of "Christmas Eve aka Sinner's Holiday." Hockens noted that "this ultra-rare comedy-drama hybrid from 1947 is going to be shown in the only surviving 35mm print." She briefly described the plot, "A rich widow will be swindled out of her fortune by a shady executor unless her three ne'er-do-well sons can all make it home by Christmas to stake a claim to the estate." the 90 minute film stars George Raft, Joan Blondell and Randolph Scott.
Mr. Baron will be in attendance to introduce his legendary cult classic, and at the intermission will be signing copies of his new book, "Blast of Silence: A Memoir."
Tickets can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets; see web site. For more information about the Noir City Xmas prelude double feature night and the Noir City 12 film festival
visit the Film Noir Foundation web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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