Best of Balboa

Susan Gerhard July 7, 2006

Norma Desmond would never have guessed just how much smaller the pictures would get, but at the Balboa Theater, which just turned 80 this year, Gary Meyer’s attempting to keep the pictures big — with engagements like the 21-week-long “Best of Youth,” which Meyer promises will return to the theater. The co-founder of Landmark Theatres, Meyer took over the aging Balboa in 2000, and has run a mix of specialized festivals, second runs, and unique premieres to lure a loyal audience out to the foggy avenues of San Francisco’s Richmond District. Meyer keeps Balboa’s base informed with a weekly e-newsletter that offers everything from ringside commentary from Cannes to dining suggestions to go with the films he’s playing. Meyer’s particularly excited about a feature coming in late summer, “Overlord,” a WWII fiction-fact hybrid from 1975, which Meyer helped rediscover. (The Stuart Cooper film was featured in Alexandra Cassavetes’ Z Channel documentary, and has been given new life by Telluride and Criterion.) As “Army of Shadows” was enjoying one of the Balboa’s strongest runs ever, we checked in with Meyer to find out what other films have rocked the 1926 foundations of the Balboa in the past six years.

The Balboa’s most popular engagements:

1. “Best of Youth” (Marco Tullio Giordana)
2. “Gloomy Sunday” (Rolf Schübel)
3. “Mulholland Drive” (David Lynch)
4. “Army of Shadows” (Jean-Pierre Melville)
5. “Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus” (Andrew Douglas)
6. “Fear and Trembling” (Alain Corneau)
7. “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress” (Dai Sijie)
8. “The World” (Jia Zhangke)
9. “I am a Sex Addict” (Caveh Zahedi)
10. Film Noir Festival