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Arts & Entertainment

The most popular film noir festival in the world makes its full return to the Bay Area

A still from George Sherman’s “Larceny” | Courtesy Film Noir Foundation

With the world feeling ever darker and more bitter, there’s never been a better time to immerse yourself in a cesspool of black-and-white drama, femme fatales and lurid crimes—and now you have 10 days to do so. 

Noir City, the most popular film noir festival in the world—or so it claims—launches its 20th anniversary program Friday at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theatre

Citing the uncertain future for the Castro Theatre given Another Planet Entertainment’s takeover of the venue, the festival moved across the bay in 2022 for an abbreviated four-day run at Oakland’s historic movie palace. 

Now Noir City is back for a full program, with a 10-day-and-night schedule that includes a bevy of films with a single commonality—all of them were made in 1948, so each one is celebrating its 75th anniversary. 

Famed “Tsar of Noir” Eddie Muller—who hosts the popular Noir Alley on Turner Classic Movies—acknowledged that Grand Lake may be smaller than the Castro, but it intends to remain a moviehouse. 

It’s “a great fit for what we do,” Muller said in the festival’s release. 

Noir City has long had a passionate following, with many attendees dressing up in period costume. Film noir captivates our imagination because of the highly stylized visuals and dialogue, and because many of the pictures were all but disposable, produced as B-movies intended to pad out double bills during Hollywood’s golden age. 

This year’s festival program includes plenty of star-studded classics, like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in Key Largo and Orson Welles’ The Lady From Shanghai, alongside rarely screened titles such as Larceny; Sleep, My Love; and The Velvet Touch

Individual tickets are available online and at the box office, while the festival passport—which gets you into all 24 screenings as well as priority seating—is on sale for $200

Noir City 20

🗓 Jan. 20-29
📍  Grand Lake Theatre, 3200 Grand Ave., Oakland
🎟 $20 for double features, $200 for the passport