Tiburon, California, population 8,800, with almost an equal number of Lexuses, has not generally been considered a magnet for cutting edge local film and international cinema. But for the past five years, the Tiburon International Film Festival (TIFF) annually transforms Main Street into a surprisingly cool locale for eight days. This year, the festival opens March 9 with the romantic comedy "The Breakup Artist," and closes with a banquet March 17. In between, the festival – catchphrase "understanding the world through film" – rolls out 230 films from more than 70 countries.
Founded by Tiburon resident Saeed Shafa in 2001, the Tiburon Film Society held its first festival in 2002. Shafa, originally from Iran, has programmed an international assortment that includes from Croatia and Cuba, Qatar and Nepal. Shafa makes all the selections for the TIFF and believes that the diverse and international population of the Bay Area should be reflected in this festival. This year, the philosophy is demonstrated in the festival’s five-feature-strong "Spotlight on Hungarian Cinema," as well as its Middle East-focused "The World at War" program, with three shorts and seven features on Iraq, the U.S. military and domestic anti-war protests. The TIFF also pays tribute to Iranian filmmaker Shirin Neshat, who is scheduled to attend the festival for the screening of her films "The Last Word," "Making of Mahdokht," "Tooba," and "Zarin".
Shafa has also come up with surprising finds from the Bay Area film scene. One of the hot picks of the festival is the world premiere and directorial debut by Les Claypool, "Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo." The sometimes Primus frontman’s feature film is a mockumentary of a jam band called Electric Apricot as they make their first album and reach the nirvana of concert festivals
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