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    Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City Will Open the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival

    The 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM Festival) will kick off with the World Premiere of Netflix’s new original series Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, Wednesday, April 10, 7 pm at the Castro Theatre. The evening will include a screening of the full first episode and a special preview of the upcoming series, followed by the Opening Night Party at the Regency Center. Showrunner, writer and executive producer Lauren Morelli, director and executive producer Alan Poul, author and executive producer Armistead Maupin, and star and executive producer Laura Linney are expected to be among those attending and participating in a post-screening Q&A.

    Tickets for the announced available seats went in a flash, but there’s a possibility that more could be released, according to the event organizers. Also, last-minute tickets—known as rush tickets—may become available for purchase just before showtime when advance tickets have sold out. If so, a rush line will form outside the venue, usually starting one hour before showtime. Approximately ten minutes prior to the screening, empty seats are counted and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis to those in the rush line. Rush tickets will only be sold to those actually waiting in line at the time of sale.

    In terms of the series itself, SFFILM Executive Director Noah Cowan said, “Like nothing before it, Armistead Maupin’s series of Tales of the City books defined the values and unique worldview of San Francisco and the Bay Area. We are thrilled that this new take on his original vision, the remarkable result of a collaboration between Lauren Morelli and Alan Poul, that incredible cast, and our friends at Netflix, can be introduced to the world for the first time in the place that originally gave it life. It’s going to be one hell of a ‘coming home’ party!”

    Members of our San Francisco Bay Times team fondly remember waiting for each installment of Tales of the City when Maupin’s column ran in the San Francisco Chronicle. His writing offered veiled—and sometimes not so cryptic—references to actual people and places. We have never seen the Marina Safeway the same since, for example. Note this passage from Maupin’s first Tales of the City book (Harper Perennial, 1978) where Connie, a friend of one of the lead characters Mary Ann Singleton, encourages her new-to-SF pal to check out the grocery store:

    Connie: “Safeway, dink. As in supermarket.”

    Mary Ann: “That’s what I thought you said. You sure know how to show a girl a good time.”

    Connie: “For your information, dink, Social Safeway just happens to be … well, it’s just the … big thing, that’s all.”

    Mary Ann: “For those who get off on groceries.”

    Connie: “For those who get off on men, hon. It’s a local tradition. Every Wednesday night. And you don’t even have to look like you’re on the make.”

    In addition to keeping up with Maupin’s column and books, members of our team enjoyed the Tales of the City musical that enjoyed an extended run at the American Conservatory Theatre in 2011. It was directed by Tony Award nominee Jason Moore (Shrek, Avenue Q, Steel Magnolias). Scissor Sisters band members Jake Shears and John Garden penned the score. We hoped that the musical would go to Broadway, but like fog over 28 Barbary Lane, its magic did not last.

    We also loved the 1993 television miniseries that was produced by Channel 4 in the U.K. and was screened by PBS here the next year. Second and third installments ran on Showtime in 1998 and 2001, keeping faves Laura Linney as Mary Ann and Olympia Dukakis as Anna Madrigal.

    The Netflix Original Series Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City will begin a new chapter in the still-popular story. Mary Ann (again played by Linney) returns to present-day San Francisco and is reunited with her daughter Shawna (Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross), 20 years after leaving them behind to pursue her career.

    Fleeing the midlife crisis that her picture-perfect Connecticut life created, Mary Ann is quickly drawn back into the orbit of Anna Madrigal (Dukakis) and her chosen family, the residents of the aforementioned 28 Barbary Lane, which was inspired by the city’s actual Macondray Lane on the southeastern side of Russian Hill.

    Premiering this summer on Netflix, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City is a Working Title Television and NBCUniversal International studios production for the mega media-services provider. Working Title’s Andrew Stearn, Liza Chasin, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner served as Executive Producers. Stearn alone has an incredible career that includes work on Shameless, The West Wing, Animal Kingdom, Third Watch and Southland, just to name a few.

    The SFFILM Festival screening will be followed by a rousing Opening Night Party at 9 pm at the Regency Center (1290 Sutter Street), kicking off the 2019 SFFILM Festival program with a bash featuring live entertainment, dancing and treats from some of San Francisco’s finest food and beverage purveyors.

    2019 San Francisco International Film Festival

    The longest-running film festival in the Americas, the SFFILM Festival is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country’s most beautiful cities. The 62nd edition runs April 10–23 at venues across the Bay Area and features nearly 200 films and live events, 14 juried awards with close to $40,000 in cash prizes, and upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests.


    SFFILM is a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the festival, SFFILM is a year-round organization delivering screenings and events to more than 75,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 12,000 students and teachers annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services.

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