The complete lineup was unveiled today for the 2018 San Francisco International Film Festival, running April 4 to 17. The festival will open with independent filmmaker Silas Howard’s drama A Kid Like Jake, starring Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, and Octavia Spencer; and Closing Night will be Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, Gus Van Sant’s biopic of cartoonist John Callahan, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, and Jack Black. Van Sant.
A Kid Like Jake, directed by Silas Howard and adapted from Daniel Pearle’s lauded Off-Broadway play, is the most exceptional and timely of social dramas, exploring issues at the heart of multiple national debates with great intensity and sly humor. Pregnant Alex (Claire Danes) and her psychiatrist husband Greg (Jim Parsons) are anxiously navigating the minefield of New York’s exclusive private schools. Their young son Jake’s intelligence and imagination have helped him win impressive test scores, but he is also expressing a preference for what Judy (Octavia Spencer), the proprietor of his preschool, delicately describes as “gender-variant play,” ranging from imaginative cross-dressing to a slavish devotion to all things “princess.” While at first encouraged to play up their son’s possible transgender leanings so he might be considered a “diverse” candidate for a progressive school, the parents begin a round of self-questioning once Jake begins acting out when confronted with bullies and teachers looking for more normative behavior. A Kid Like Jake will be released theatrically this summer by IFC Films.
In the caustic and wickedly funny, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, celebrated quadriplegic Portland cartoonist John Callahan had a knack for depicting taboo subjects—especially people with physical disabilities—without political correctness. With an engrossing and shape-shifting performance by Joaquin Phoenix as Callahan, accompanied by scene-stealing support from Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, and Jack Black, Gus Van Sant’s (Milk, My Own Private Idaho) newest film follows the life of this troubled alcoholic who journeys from rock-bottom to an oddball AA group to ultimately channeling his demons into sometimes shocking and always humorous profane art.
The Festival’s 2018 award and tributes include honors for Wayne Wang (A Tribute to Wayne Wang), Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (George Gund III Craft of Cinema Award), Annette Insdorf (Mel Novikoff Award), and Nathaniel Dorsky (Persistence of Vision Award), along with the previously announced Tribute to Charlize Theron.
Special live events include Blonde Redhead performing live with Yasujiro Ozu’s I Was Born, But… , A Thousand Thoughts – A Live Documentary by Sam Green and Kronos Quartet, A Celebration of Oddball Films with Marc Capelle’s Red Room Orchestra, and the 2018 State of Cinema Address by Canadian iconoclast Guy Maddin.