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San Francisco International Film Festival rolls out
the red carpet for Lily Tomlin and Virginia Madsen

Lily Tomlin and Virginia Madsen pose for the paparazzi
at yesterday's Castro Theatre screening of A Prairie Home Companion
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Aldrich M. Tan

May 5, 2006

The stars landed at the Castro Theatre on the last day of the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival.

The festival rolled out the red carpet out for actresses Lily Tomlin and Virginia Madsen at the theatre Thursday evening for the festival's showing of "A Prairie Home Companion." Directed by Robert Altman, the film features Tomlin, Madsen, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, and Lindsay Lohan.

"It's always good to be in San Francisco," Tomlin told the Sentinel. Tomlin then pointed to Castro District's Rainbow flag saying, ""Look at that beautiful flag fly!"

Lily Tomlin

Approximately 1,400 locals braved the chilly and breezy late afternoon weather to get a glimpse of Hollywood glamour and to view the sold-out screening.

Graham Leggat, festival executive director, said the grand event ends the festival's successful run this year.

"I can say for certain that the festival attendance this year has doubled from last year," Leggat said.

Graham Leggat

Leggat, wearing an agnes b. dark corduroy suit, said this year's programming has been fantastic. His favorite films from the festival include "Workingman's Death," "Three Times," "The Wayward Cloud," and "Sólo Dios Sabe."

"I thank the festival's partners, audiences, filmmakers, and my hardworking staff for making this year's festival successful," Leggat said.

Sean Dana, festival staff videographer, said the International Film Festival has strongly benefited from Leggat's leadership.

"He has strengthened the vision of the film festival," Dana said.

But there is always room for improvement, Leggat said.

"We've got some plans in the works but we're not ready to roll out with them yet," Leggat said, "We have a duty to improve this historical festival."

Leggat said he hopes to bring Robert Downey Jr. down the film festival's red carpet someday soon. He is especially excited for Tomlin and Madsen's arrival Thursday night.

"Tomlin has been a great friend of San Francisco," Leggat said.

At around 6:45 p.m., the limousine containing Madsen and Tomlin pulled up right in front of the movie theatre. The crowds clamored and cheered as Madsen and Tomlin greeted fans and graced the red carpet.

Madsen said she also loves being in the Castro.

"I haven't been in San Francisco for 20 years," Madsen said. "It's so good to be back."

Virgina Madsen

Founded in 1957, the San Francisco International Film Festival is the longest running film festival in the Americas, festival spokeswoman Tara Dempsey said. The festival ran from April 20 to May 4 at the Kabuki 8 Theatres, the Castro Theatre and the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco; the Pacific Film Archive Theatre in Berkeley; and the Landmark's Aquarius Theatre in Palo Alto, as well as several smaller venues. It featured 227 films and live events with more than 100 filmmakers in attendance.

According to the film festival's Web site, the San Francisco Film Society, presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, will be premiering the first annual San Francisco International Animation Festival from October 11 to October 15 and a new San Francisco International Youth Media Festival in 2007.

For additional information, visit the San Francisco Film Festival web-site.




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