55th San Francisco International Film Festival Adds Six Screenings to Lineup

'Bernie,' 'Chasing Ice,' 'The Do-Deca Pentathalon,' 'John Dies at the End,' 'Lola Versus' and 'Nobody Walks' Added to Previously-Announced Festival Schedule


The 55th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 19-May 3) announces that Richard Linklater's Bernie (USA 2011), Jeff Orlowski's Chasing Ice (USA 2012), Jay and Mark Duplass' The Do-Deca-Pentathlon (USA 2011), Don Coscarelli's John Dies at the End (USA 2012), Daryl Wein's Lola Versus (USA 2012) and Ry Russo-Young's Nobody Walks (USA 2012) have been added to the Festival schedule.

Explaining the proper methods to superglue eyelids closed and adjust a corpse's smile, Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) warns, "You cannot have grief tragically becoming comedy." But can it be funny when someone dies and no one cares? A former evangelist who arrives in Carthage, Texas to take a job as an assistant funeral director, Tiede uses his magnetic personality, seemingly never-ending skill set and Harold Hill-style of confidence to become the most popular man in town. Tiede even manages to charm Marjorie Nugent (a maniacally frenzied Shirley MacLaine), the local rich widow whom everyone else despises and fears. Eventually, though, Nugent's abuses become too much for someone in Carthage to take. Director Richard Linklater returns to the East Texas of his youth to showcase the strange heart of small town life, where, as one character puts it, "people will always suspect the worst, but they'll also suspect the best." Bernie plays 9:30 pmSaturdayApril 21Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. Millennium Entertainment will open the film in theaters this spring.

Featuring breathtaking displays of remote and beautiful landscapes that may never be seen again by human-or any-eyes, Chasing Ice chronicles the quest of photographer James Balog to create his project the Extreme Ice Survey. Like many, Balog was initially skeptical of the existence of climate change. But, after researching the changing state of Earth's melting glaciers and then witnessing those changes firsthand through field studies, Balog became convinced of the realities and consequences of climate crisis. He then set out to record the ever-changing landscapes of the world's glacial terrain, with a photographer's eye for majestic vistas and incredible places. Filmmaker Jeff Orlowski observes the painstaking and obsessive methods Balog uses to capture images that serve both as valuable topographic documents and as uniquely beautiful contemplations of ice and water. Celebrating Earth's natural beauty while simultaneously serving as an environmental clarion call, Chasing Ice is a stunning and important document of our world in transition. Chasing Ice plays 7:15 pmThursdayMay 3, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. Balog is expected to attend. Oscilloscope Laboratories will open the film in theaters this fall.

Brothers Mark (Steve Zissis) and Jeremy (Mark Kelly) have been estranged for twenty years since their 25-event athletic competition ended without a clear winner. Now reunited at their mother's home for a birthday, the two will risk humiliation, family turmoil and their own sanity for a rematch to determine once and for all who is the better brother. On the cusp of middle age, Mark and Jeremy now have very different lives-one happily married with a son and one a freewheeling professional poker player with few adult commitments-and no small amount of envy for each other. Both are primed to instantly revert to the grudges of childhood although current circumstances require that they keep their competition secret from their family. Using their characteristic low-budget on-the-fly approach, Jay and Mark Duplass make the most of terrific actors and their improvisational skills to craft indelibly fallible characters in this pre-Cyrus comedy. The verbal and physical humor-the competition, though named semi-Olympically, contains such athletic challenges as ping-pong, laser tag and underwater breath-holding-melds with the pathos of the brothers' underlying need for validation and approval, resulting in a warm-hearted little gem. The Do-Deca-Pentathlon plays 9:00 pmThursdayApril 26Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. The film will be distributed by Red Flag Releasing and Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Talking bratwursts, monsters made of meat and dogs with magical powers-the madly fertile brain of Don Coscarelli (the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster) strikes again. Dissecting the incredibly baroque plot of his latest film would take out much of the fun, but the gist involves a super-powered psychoactive substance called "soy sauce" which causes its users to have extreme psychic experiences and the ability to travel across time and space. It can also overpower those who ingest it, turning them into shape-shifting monsters. The sauce makes its first appearance in the town of Sherwood, Illinois, where two pals come across it at an outdoor party. The duo teams up with other party survivors to defeat the substance and the various demons it sends after them. Adapting the popular Internet-launched novel of the same name by Jason Pargin, Coscarelli creatively shifts the action back and forth in time as David narrates his incredible story to an interested journalist played by Paul Giamatti. With wonderfully witty dialogue and some terrifically gory set pieces, John Dies at the End is the most inspired horror-comedy in years. John Dies at the End plays 9:45 pmWednesdayMay 2Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. Coscarelli is expected to attend. The film is coming soon to theaters.

Lola lives in bliss. She has a perfect fiancé-an artist who cooks, is funny, handsome, sweet and great in bed. She has a satisfying job, great friends and a beautiful loft in New York City. However, this so-wonderful-it-is-not situation is about to enter an era of unprecedented tumult and despair. Displaying remarkable range as Lola, indie star Greta Gerwig plays a young woman who, just in time for her 29th birthday, concludes her Saturn return (an astrological phenomenon associated with upheaval, maturation and change). In Lola's orbit are Henry, Luke and Alice, each played by three equally engaging young actors: Hamish Linklater (The Future, SFIFF 2011), Joel Kinnaman (Safe House) and Zoe Lister Jones (Salt). Each at turns provides support and obstacles that Lola must navigate as she restarts her life. Romantic entanglements, adult dating, loneliness and betrayal are all fair game in this funny, dark and emotional journey on which Lola attempts to locate herself. Along the way she meets Nick Oyster, a prison architect with a strange approach to flirting, played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach in a wonderfully awkward and oddly hilarious supporting performance. But the film belongs to Gerwig, whose multi-faceted performance points to a breakthrough of astronomical proportions. Lola Versusplays 9:15 pmMondayApril 30Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. Director Daryl Wein is expected to attend. Fox Searchlight is releasing the film this summer. 

Headstrong New York artist Martine (Olivia Thirlby) flies to Los Angeles to finish her latest work. She takes up residence in a wealthy family's Silver Lake home to record audio under the guidance of Hollywood sound designer Peter (John Krasinski). Although Martine is focused and determined to finish her piece, her arrival creates tension in the family. Peter's wife, Julie (Rosemarie DeWitt), becomes aware of her husband's lingering glances toward their guest, and Martine's presence causes Julie's teenage daughter Kolt (India Ennenga) to begin investigating her own influence over the opposite sex. While many films have examined the ways in which the introduction of a stranger changes the dynamics within a family, Ry Russo-Young and cowriter Lena Dunham (writer/director/star of Tiny Furniture) focus their attention on how this change affects the stranger. Aided by strong performances from its three female leads, Nobody Walks is a delicate and sharp character study from two of the most notable female voices in the world of American independent cinema. Nobody Walks plays 9:30 pmWednesdayApril 25Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. The film will be distributed by Magnolia Pictures. 

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55th San Francisco International Film Festival 
The 55th San Francisco International Film Festival runs April 19-May 3 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, the Castro Theatre, SF Film Society Cinema and SFMOMA in San Francisco and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. Held each spring for 15 days, the International is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country's most beautiful cities, featuring 200 films and live events, 14 juried awards and $70,000 in cash prizes, upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests and diverse and engaged audiences with more than 70,000 people in attendance.