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Film Picks

[whitespace] By Richard von Busack

F for Fake (1975)
March 10-11 at the Red Vic Movie House

The old prankster was broke. Orson Welles was out of money again, so skint that he even took a gig narrating a documentary salute to the Shah of Iran. During this time, Welles became fascinated by Elmyr de Hory, the brilliant art forger who had an uncanny knack for postimpressionist forgeries and sold millions of dollars' worth of fakes to Texas oil tycoons. Welles appropriated (with permission) a documentary on de Hory by François Reichenbach. Welles then added to the footage interviews with Clifford Irving, de Hory's biographer. Irving had himself just committed an enormous fraud: he had sold a spurious autobiography of the world's most famous recluse, Howard Hughes. There are two frauds, de Hory and Irving; Welles decided to make it a trio with a few whoppers of his own. The film is a wild late-period turn by Welles and one of the first-ever mockumentaries.

17th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival
March 11-18 at various locations

Opening this year's festival is Tony Bui's Sundance honoree Three Seasons. Two films key into the current cinematic trend of revisiting World War II: the documentary Rabbit in the Moon by Emiko Omori remembers the internment of Japanese-Americans; the Korean film Silence Broken studies an especially painful atrocity of war, the Japanese conscription of Korean women to serve as prostitutes. Other features: M. Trinh Nguyen's Tiger's Apprentice; Beauty by Yon Fan (director of Bugis Street); Fruit Chan's Made in Hong Kong; Citizen Hong Kong, Ruby Yang's film about the transfer of Hong Kong to China; and a revival of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.

The Last Days
March 3 at Embarcadero Center Cinema

Five Hungarian Jews, a doctor at Auschwitz and a sonderkommando--a liaison between the Nazis and their prisoners--all recount their experiences during the Holocaust. The contrast of modern and historical footage snaps past and present together, making the unimaginable real. Butterflies and grasshoppers sport over the rusty rails that lead to the gates of Auschwitz; the ovens aren't really much bigger than a medium-sized pottery kiln. The soft-spoken narration of these elderly men and women tells of arch-cruelty and strange acts of mercy. James Moll's stunning documentary breaks open even the most sealed-up emotions about the great crime. Steven Spielberg was the executive producer.

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From the March 1, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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