Infinite City: Cinema City

Related Exhibition The Anniversary Show

Thursday, September 9, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 11, 2010, various times

At multiple locations

September's "Cinema City" map charts the genesis of cinema at the hands of Eadweard Muybridge in 1870s San Francisco; the making of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo here in 1957; and the 71 movie houses that were open in 1958, the year Vertigo premiered. Writing about this map, Rebecca Solnit contemplates the ghosts set loose by Muybridge's invention and the "dream palaces" they so pleasurably used to haunt, considering how cinema shapes our own apprehension of being and loss — especially in the city.

Date/Time/Location Description
Thursday, September 9, 2010
7:00 p.m.
Phyllis Wattis Theater

Housing Shadows and Projecting Fog

Screening of works in progress:
Strand: A Natural History of Cinema, Christian Bruno, 2010
Fog City, Andy Black and Sam Green, 2010
Christian Bruno, Natalija Vekic, Malcolm Pullinger, filmmakers

Launching the "Cinema City" broadside, we turn to San Francisco as both a source and a frequent subject of cinema. Black and Green's Fog City lovingly captures our atmospheric conditions, while Bruno's Strand considers the city's great postwar movie houses. Bruno, producer Vekic, and editor Pullinger will be on hand to introduce and discuss the film-in-progress, which tracks the golden moment of repertory theaters in the city, the types of public life these places permitted, and the political forces that drove all but a handful away.

Free with museum admission.

Saturday, September 11, 2010
Various venues and times (see right for details)

A Few Dream Palaces of San Francisco
Join us for a film crawl through San Francisco's independently owned movie houses, urban gems that have delighted San Franciscans for generations.


Proto- and Possible Cinemas: Ernie Gehr
Cotton Candy, Ernie Gehr, 2001, 64 min., video
Ernie Gehr, filmmaker

Balboa Theatre, 3630 Balboa Street

Critic J. Hoberman has described Gehr's celebrated body of avant-garde film work as "a tale of three cities": Berlin, his parents' home; New York, where he became known for his structuralist films in the late 1960s; and San Francisco, where he lived and taught from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s. Cotton Candy visits San Francisco's beloved Musee Mecanique before its move from the Cliff House to Fisherman's Wharf; relishing the proto-cinematic devices there, Gehr recaptures the dream of cinema before it found its big screen. Gehr introduces the film and joins us for a post-screening discussion. 

$9.00 general admission only, no member price. Advance tickets available at


Mean Streets: Chip Lord, Lourdes Portillo, Konrad Steiner, and Graham Connah
Chip Lord, Lourdes Portillo, Konrad Steiner, filmmakers
Graham Connah, composer

Four Star Theater, 2200 Clement Street
3:00 p.m.

In this shorts program, we feature works whose protagonists race and toggle through San Francisco's real and imagined streets. Lord's Movie Map runs iconic car chases in Bullitt and Vertigo against each other. Portillo's My McQueen tracks the influence that Bullitt star Steve McQueen exerts on San Francisco's multiple identities, while Lord's Awakening from the Twentieth Century wonders if the virtual is edging out the actual spaces captured in these films. An excerpt of Steiner and Connah's collaboration, Overdoing the Movies, features a mashup of chase scenes excerpted from The Conversation, What's Up Doc, and seven other films set in San Francisco, accompanied by a live performance of Connah's original score.

$9.00 general admission only, no member price. Tickets available day of show; Four Star Theater box office opens at 2:00 p.m.


Glitter Factory: Pickup's Tricks
Gregory Pickup, 1973, 110 min.

Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street
6:00 p.m.

Profiling Hibiscus, the splendidly sequined founder of the legendary Cockettes, filmmaker Pickup saw his Grove Street loft transformed into "a glitter factory" for a very San Franciscan series of revels. The film captures Pickup's home remade as a cabaret for Hibiscus's free theater group, the Angels of Light, and even Allen Ginsberg arrives to perform Blake poems in drag.

$10.00 general admission; $5.00 special discount for SFMOMA members and those who present a ticket stub from one of the earlier screenings. Advance tickets available at


Free Fall: Vertigo
Alfred Hitchcock, 1958, 128 min., 35mm

Vogue Theatre, 3290 Sacramento Street

We conclude our "Cinema City" film crawl with one of our map's touchstones: Hitchcock's Vertigo. The film's doubled portraits of obsession and desire find stars Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak wandering a gorgeously shot San Francisco. With its celebrated Bernard Herrmann score fueling the complex psychologies at play, Vertigo is consistently experienced as one of the greatest films ever made.

$10.50 general admission only, no member price.Advance tickets available at

Image: Market Street, circa 1954; courtesy Christian Bruno, from the collection of J. E. Tillmany