Julianne Moore in What Maisie Knew

Bay Area filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel's emotional drama What Maisie Knew starring Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgard will open the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, organizers revealed Wednesday. The feature highlights the festival's “Big Nights” series, along with SFIFF's Centerpiece screening of Jacob Kornbluth's documentary Inequality For All, which spotlights economist and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich. Richard Linklater's latest, Before Midnight, starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke will close out the festival, the oldest in North America.

“With this year’s amazing lineup of Big Nights we welcome back filmmakers whose work has resonated with SFIFF audiences and shine a spotlight on local luminaries,” said Rachel Rosen, San Francisco Film Society director of programming. “Former San Francisco filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel are coming back to share their latest work while Jacob Kornbluth’s Bay Area production celebrates a superstar in quite another field: UC Berkeley economics professor (and former U.S. Labor Secretary) Robert Reich. We’re also thrilled to bring back Richard Linklater to end the festival with one of the most honest and enduring screen romances of all time.”

Details on the “Big Nights” screenings follow with information provided by SFIFF:

Opening Night: What Maisie Knew                                                                                                                                                                                                  
(Codirectors Scott McGehee and David Siegel and actor Onata Aprile expected)                                      
In a loose adaptation of Henry James’ novel of the same name, Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s What Maisie Knew focuses on the effects of a marriage unraveling as viewed through the eyes of a couple’s six-year-old daughter (played by remarkable newcomer Onata Aprile). Shuffling between narcissistic parents—her rock star mother (Julianne Moore) and distracted art dealer father (Steve Coogan)—or foisted off on parental stand-ins (Alexander Skarsgård and Joanna Vanderham), young Maisie comes face to face with the mercurial world of grown-ups who are anything but.

Centerpiece: Inequality For All                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
(Director Jacob Kornbluth and subject Robert Reich expected)                                                                
In this Inconvenient Truth for the economy, the Sundance Special Jury Award–winning Inequality For All introduces former Secretary of Labor (and current UC Berkeley professor) Robert Reich as an inspirational and humorous guide in exploring the causes and consequences of the widening income gap in America and asks what is means for the future of our economy and nation. Passionate and insightful, Reich connects the dots for viewers by providing a comprehensive and significantly deeper understanding of what’s at stake if we don’t act.

Closing Night: Before Midnight                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
(Director Richard Linklater expected)                                                                                               
They’re still the same romantic, articulate and gorgeous couple that met on a train in Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995), but now, nearly 20 years on, Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) are approaching middle age and facing questions of commitment, family and, as ever, the staying power of love. Before Midnight, with a funny and touching screenplay cowritten by Linklater and his two lead actors, is that rare sequel (rarer still: a sequel to a sequel) that not only delivers the charm and energy of its antecedents but adds layers of poignancy, standing firmly on its own as a mature observation of love’s pleasures and discontents.