Friday, February 11, 2011

The Mostly British Film Festival: A Unique Festival to Save a Theater

Festival director Ruthe Stein with board members Jack Bair and Andrew Woodley

The Mostly British Film Festival surpassed their three previous years and dozens of other film festivals with two superb films at the historic Vogue Theatre in San Francisco on Feb. 8 when "Glorious 39" and "Dorian Gray" were screened for large turn-outs of film fans.

Festival director Ruthe Stein joined festival board members Jack Bair and Andrew Woodley and superb volunteer coordinator Ninfa Dawson to present a quality event in the restored 1910 theater in Presidio Heights. Stein is a popular film critic and Bair promotes the preservation of older single-screen theaters. Woodley is a refreshing young Englishman who gave a colorful and descriptive outline of "Dorian Gray" and its inventive director Olive Parker. The intriguing festival is presented by the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation and the California Film Institute.

The opening night party was at British Motors where guests indulged in drinks and hors d'oeuvres and wandered among the spectacular new Jaguar XJ luxury sedans.

The award-winning film"The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls," a documentary about amazing yodeling lesbian sisters from New Zealand, was popular and also a big hit at the 2010 San Francisco LGBT Film Festival.

Murderous aristocratic ruling class Nazi collaborators in the pre-World War II British government? That was a big surprise in the film "Glorious 39," with the stunning, freckled Eddie Redmayne and iconic Julie Christie.

Sexwork palace orgies and opium pipes were on display in rich, glorious color in "Dorian Gray." Everything that was suggested in an earlier black-and-white film version and Oscar Wilde’s notorious book is intensely blatant in this new celluloid treat starring Colin Firth from "The King’s Speech" and overwhelmingly handsome Ben Barnes from the "Narnia" movies. Outstanding 19th century paneled interiors were the backgrounds for the Dorian Gray character played by sultry Barnes to hunt and debauch Victorian girls, women, boys, and men, all in extravagant suits and gowns that were yanked off for Gray’s pleasure and ruin. The Egyptian cat god that Gray prayed to for his miraculously ageless face was missing from this film, but the notorious painting disintegration sequences were modern and spellbinding with their high-tech computerizations.

The Mostly British Film Festival is a well-regarded addition to the dozens of such festivals in San Francisco and hopefully funds raised during the event will help to save the Vogue Theatre for future generations of film-lovers.

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