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Film Festival Highlight: Laura Poitras’ ‘The Oath’ Debuts Tonight at the Pacific Film Archive

As a storyteller, Laura Poitras is at once provocative and probing, and if her style draws us in with footage that could be described as misleading – her primary subject, former Osama bin Laden bodyguard Abu Jandal, is more compassionate than he initially seems – she delivers a thoughtful portrait of a difficult subject. Jandal is, it turns out, not a violent revolutionary or an advocate of suicide bombings. Who he is, and the lessons he imparts to his young followers, are far more complicated, but always guided by a rigorous adherence to what he regards as Islamic principle.

Alonzo King's Lines

Don't hate them because they tour Europe and have muscles that might be more believable on a mid-level Greek god than on a human. They're still just people - very strong, preternaturally  graceful people. Curving and undulating in an otherwordly sort of way, the dancers don't just mark the technique, they've mastered the level of soul and personality that Alonzo King cultivates in his company.

Banksy Blows Up SF Streets

Want to instantly up your home's appraisal value by, oh, say half a million? If you live in San Francisco, you can start by crossing your fingers that famed London graffiti artist Banksy is eyeing your exterior walls to use as his canvas at this very moment. The notoriously reclusive talent seems to have hit up the City by the Bay, with new artwork in his signature style cropping up on buildings all over town. Of course speculating about the value added to a building from a genuine Banksy kind of misses the point of the art (satirized to brilliant effect in the piece above) , as a confessed real estate geek I simply couldn't help myself.

An Accident at Magic Theatre

Plowing through your day is so much easier when you don't stop to consider the possibility that you might be accidentally mowed down in a grocery store parking lot and wake up to find yourself immobile in a hospital bed. Lydia Stryck's deftly written script contemplates just such a scenario - and what happens when the man behind the wheel becomes a friend to the woman who can no longer move her arms.

Idris Elba Dedicates Life and At Least One Limb to ‘The Losers’

A native Londoner, Idris Elba speaks with an almost undetectable British accent, one he’s masked successfully as Stringer Bell, a Baltimore drug lord in HBO’s celebrated The Wire, and, most recently, as Roque, an ornery black-ops specialist in the action-comedy The Losers.

Elba, 37, says he’s lived in the U.S. long enough to perfect his American dialect, but that he’s not entirely satisfied with it. That comes as news to Losers director Sylvain White, who sought out Elba after admiring his work in The Wire.

Celebrated Filmmaker Walter Murch to Address State of Cinema at Festival

Three-time Oscar-winning editor and sound designer Walter Murch, who has frequently collaborated with Francis Ford Coppola on movies including The Conversation (1974), Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Godfather: Part III (1990), will address San Francisco Film Festival attendees tonight about the origins of cinema and the innovators, such as Thomas Edison and Beethoven, who helped shape its prehistory.

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See at the 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival

The 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival, the longest-running celebration of cinema in North America, is in full swing at its primary venues, including the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, the Castro Theatre, the Clay Theatre and the Pacific Film Archive. Here's a list of some of this year's most tantalizing offerings. For tickets, click here.

Photos: Opening Night at the San Francisco International Film Festival

Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of Delicatessen (1991), Alien: Resurrection (1997) and Amélie (2001), helped open the 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival with his latest comedy, Micmacs, on Thursday night at the Castro. The festival continues through May 6. For tickets, showtimes and more information, visit its official site.

Stuntman Nash Edgerton Breaks Into Directing with the Acclaimed Thriller ‘The Square’

When Nash and Joel Edgerton’s father brought his sons a video camera – Nash was 10 at the time, Joel 8 – little did he realize what a profound impact it would have on the course of their personal and professional lives.

Nearly three decades later, Nash, 37, is a well-respected stuntman, having played Ewan McGregor’s double in two Star Wars sequels, and the director of the acclaimed new noir drama The Square; Joel, 35, who most notably co-starred in Star Wars: Episode II and III as Anakin Skywalker’s stepbrother, wrote The Square’s hard-edged script and plays the movie’s most fearsome heavy.

San Francisco International Film Festival to Honor Animator Don Hertzfeldt

The 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival will present its coveted Persistence of Vision Award to Academy Award–nominated animator Don Hertzfeldt tonight at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. Tickets are $10 for San Francisco Film Society members and $12.50 for general admission.

Fremont's Hertzfeldt, 33, whose work frequently features hand-drawn stick figures, received a 2001 Oscar nomination for his short comedy film Rejected. His films have earned more than 150 awards from festivals worldwide. He will be in attendance for an onstage interview at this evening's presentation of Life, Death and Very Large Utensils at the Sundance, with a collection of short films to follow.

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