SOURCE: Documentary Film Institute at San Francisco State University

February 16, 2007 14:58 ET

DOC Film Institute at San Francisco State University Presents Film Festival "Witness To War: Documentary Perspectives: World War II To Iraq" on March 1-4, 2007

Filmmakers Ken Burns and Kim Novik Preview New WWII Documentary, "THE WAR," at the Castro Theatre on March 1 and the Premier Theater at the Letterman Digital Arts Center on March 2

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 16, 2007 --The DOC Film Institute at San Francisco State University, a project of the International Center for the Arts, presents a sneak preview of "THE WAR," a film by Ken Burns and Kim Novik, as part of its mostly free four-day festival, "Witness to War: Documentary Perspectives: World War II to Iraq," on March 1-4, 2007 at the Castro Theatre, the Premier Theater at the Letterman Digital Arts Center and the de Young Museum's Koret Auditorium. "Witness to War" honors the legacy of documentaries on war, tracing a period from World War II to the present day Iraq War. In addition to Burns and Novik's film on World War II, the festival features the works of legendary filmmakers Humphrey Jennings ("Listen to Britain," "A Diary for Timothy" and "Fires Were Started"), Sergei Loznitsa ("Blockade"), Bertrand Tavernier ("The Undeclared War") and James Longley ("Iraq in Fragments," nominated for a 2006 Academy Award).

On March 1, the DOC Film Institute and KQED present a 90-minute compilation of Burns and Novik's 14-hour, seven-part documentary, "THE WAR," at 7:00 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco. "THE WAR" focuses on the stories of American citizens from four geographically distributed and quintessentially American towns -- Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and the small farming town of Luverne, Minnesota. The film is followed by a conversation with Burns and author Thomas Sanchez. Tickets are $15 general, $12 for students and KQED members (KQED discount by phone only) and are available in advance through City Box Office at 415-392-4400 or www.cityboxoffice.com. On March 2, Burns introduces and presents two-hour Part One of "THE WAR" at 7:30 p.m. at the Premier Theater at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio, San Francisco. The filmmaker will be in attendance and answering audience questions. Tickets are $15 general, $10 students and can be purchased through TicketWeb at www.ticketweb.com. All other screenings on March 3-4 at the de Young Museum's Koret Auditorium are free.

OTHER FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

A Tribute to Humphrey Jennings (1907-1950)

Saturday, March 3 at Noon at the de Young Museum's Koret Auditorium

Author David Thomson ("Dictionary of Film") introduces three documentaries by one of the most important figures in the celebrated British Documentary film movement, Humphrey Jennings. Jennings' films show the concerns and conditions of the United Kingdom during World War II. Three films are presented on March 3, including "Listen to Britain," "A Diary for Timothy" and "Fires Were Started (a.k.a. I Was a Fireman)." As a filmmaker, Jennings captured the thoughts and experiences of regular British citizens during wartime and often showed ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

In "Listen to Britain," Jennings edits and assembles everyday images of English life during World War II. The film allows the sounds of daily wartime life to narrate the story in this innovative and poetic documentary from 1942. In "A Diary for Timothy" (1944), baby Timothy James Jenkins is born on September 3, 1944, nearly at the end of the war. The film examines the child's future and the future of England post-World War II. In Jennings' 1943 film, "Fires Were Started (a.k.a. I Was A Fireman)," he follows eight firemen in Britain's Auxiliary Fire Service during a 24-hour period during the blitz in London. The only feature length film that Jennings ever made, "Fires Were Started" shows the men fighting a blaze threatening to destroy an ammunition ship at anchor by the wharf. The film blurs the lines between fiction and documentary and uses groundbreaking montage techniques.

900-Day Siege of Leningrad Documented in "Blockade" (2005) by Sergei Loznitsa

Saturday, March 3 at 3:45 p.m. at the de Young Museum's Koret Auditorium

The siege of Leningrad was the longest of World War II, spanning 900 days from September 1941 to January 1944. When Hitler barricaded access to the Soviet city of three million people, estimates of the number of residents who died from starvation, disease or cold range from 641,000 to 800,000. Comprised solely of rarely seen footage found in Soviet film archives by director Sergei Loznitsa, "Blockade" (2005) vividly re-creates those momentous events, featuring a meticulously reconstructed soundtrack added to the original black-and-white footage.

Bertrand Tavernier's "The Undeclared War" Explores the 1954-1962 Algerian War for the First Time

Sunday, March 4 at Noon at the de Young Museum's Koret Auditorium

Nearly three million French combatants were involved in the 1954-1962 Algerian War, which was never officially declared a war by the French government. Thirty years later, director Bertrand Tavernier pieced together "The Undeclared War" (1992) out of 50 hours of footage shot in Grenoble, France, the venue of one of the two largest anti-war riots in the 1950's. The film focuses on the testimonies of 28 veterans and their wives, some speaking about their memories for the very first time, to convey the war's devastating impact.

"Iraq in Fragments" Nominated for 2006 Academy Award Documentary

Sunday, March 4 at 5:00 p.m. at the de Young Museum's Koret Auditorium

In 2003 after the U.S.-led invasion, Seattle filmmaker James Longley, sneaked across the Iraq border from Egypt without a visa or proper permission. Over the next two years, Longley filmed over 300 hours of material to create the documentary, "Iraq in Fragments," exploring the lives of ordinary Iraqis. The three-part film focuses on one story for each major ethnic group in Iraq, showing the war-torn country as seen through the eyes of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Winner of Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editing awards in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival documentary competition and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the film was recently nominated for a 2006 Academy Award for Documentary Film.

ABOUT "WITNESS TO WAR" FILM FESTIVAL

Presented by the DOC Film Institute, a project of the International Center for the Arts at San Francisco State University, "Witness to War: Documentary Perspectives: World War II to Iraq" honors the legacy of documentaries on war, tracing a period from World War II to the present day Iraq War. For more information, locations and a complete schedule of film screenings, please visit http://ica.sfsu.edu.

ABOUT "WITNESS TO WAR" PROGRAM AT SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY

"Witness to War" is an exploration of the war experience through documentary film and visual arts presented by San Francisco State University's International Center for the Arts. The "Witness to War" film festival takes place on March 1-4, 2007, and honors the legacy of documentaries on war, tracing a period from World War II to the present day Iraq War. The event pays tribute to renowned filmmakers Ken Burns and Kim Novik and features Part One of the new documentary, "THE WAR." The "Witness to War" program continues to explore the war experience with a contemporary art exhibition about the American war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia at San Francisco State University's Fine Arts Gallery from February 17 - March 15, 2007.

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE ARTS

The International Center for the Arts at San Francisco State University celebrates the world's most innovative art and artists. San Francisco State University alumni George and Judy Marcus donated $3 million to create the International Center for the Arts in 2005. The International Center for the Arts focuses on documentary films with its DOC Film Institute, on visual arts with a Biennial Visual Arts Exhibition and on international arts and artists with an International Celebration of the Arts. The International Center for the Arts also presents George and Judy Marcus Prizes: awards for artistic excellence and lifetime achievement in the arts.

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