Film Festival-palooza Weekend: Dance, French Cinema, and Transgender Festivals

Has anyone ever expected a weekend where there were six film festivals happening around San Francisco?  That rare occurrence happens this weekend as the city plays host to half-a-dozen differently-themed film festivals.

39th American Indian Film Festival


This is the final weekend for this year’s American Indian Film Festival.  Don’t sweat it if you missed Jason Momoa’s directorial debut “Road To Paloma.”  There are still some interesting films that haven’t screened yet.  Sterlin Harjo’s documentary “This May Be The Last Time” links a mysterious 1962 death with the history of certain Native American hymns.  That historical tour takes the viewer from the American Southwest to the Scottish Highlands.   Sundance selection “Drunktown’s Finest” is Sydney Freeland’s drama about a trio of decidedly different young Native Americans trying to flee the hardships of life on the Rez.  Peter Stebbings’ “Empire of Dirt” concerns three generations of a family’s women and the cycles of emotional dysfunction that plague them.

The festival runs through November 9, 2014.  All screenings take place at the AMC Metreon.  For further information about the films and advance ticket orders, go to http://aifisf.com .


1st San Francisco Urban Film Festival

The new kid on the proverbial festival block, this festival uses film and video to examine issues surrounding urban planning and urban design.  San Francisco Planning And Urban Research (SPUR) is unsurprisingly hosting the festival.  Scheduled films include: the Mission Bay segment from the upcoming PBS TV series “Saving The City”; “Impossible Light,” the documentary about the making of the S.F. Bay Bridge Lights sculpture; and “The Fillmore,” a history of the neighborhood from World War II on from Peter L. Stein.

All festival screenings take place at SPUR.  For further information about the schedule and advance ticket orders, go to http://www.sfurbanfilmfest.com.


French Cinema Now

The San Francisco Film Society kicks off its Fall Festival season with the return of its French Cinema Now mini-festival.  Highlights from this year’s selections lean heavily on the star power.  Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds Of Sils Maria” stars Juliette Binoche as an aging actress persuaded by her assistant (Kristin Stewart) to star in a revival of the lesbian play that made her famous.  The restored thriller “Three Men To Kill” stars Alain Delon as a gambler who runs afoul of sinister arms dealers.  Marion Cotillard plays a solar panel factory worker trying to avoid downsizing in Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne’s humanist thriller “Two Days, One Night.”

All festival screenings take place at the Vogue Theater.  For the full schedule and to order advance tickets, go here.


5th San Francisco Dance Film Festival

This year’s edition of the dance film festival offers programming for both dance novices and dance connoisseurs.  “Paul Taylor: Creative Domain” takes viewers on a very rare trip into legendary choreographer Paul Taylor’s creative process.  Vincent Paterson is the titular “The Man Behind The Throne.”  While many readers may not know this Hollywood choreographer’s name, they know some of the people he’s created career-defining moves for: Michael Jackson and Madonna.  The “International Shorts” program includes “Globe Trot,”  a crowd-sourced short involving 54 filmmakers, seven continents, two seconds of dance, and the choreography of Bebe Miller.

All festival screenings take place at the Brava Theater Center.  For further information about the films and advance ticket ordering info, go here.


12th 3rd I San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival


Attendees to this festival will be treated to films from the South Asian subcontinent and its diaspora on two weekends: Nov. 6-9 in San Francisco and Nov. 15 in Palo Alto.

Selections for this year’s festival include films featuring heavy music and dance elements.  The documentary “Upaj: Improvise” tells of the collaboration between master Indian kathak dancer Chitresh Das and African-American freestyle tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith.  The runaway hit Bollywood musical “Queen” concerns a jilted bride-to-be who discovers herself while celebrating her “honeymoon” with a trip to Paris and Amsterdam…solo!  The “Psychedelic Cinema: Radhe, Radhe + Shorts” program includes the short “Radhe, Radhe: Rites of Holy,” which has a score by jazz musician Vijay Iyer.

The San Francisco screenings take place at New People Cinema and the Castro Theatre.  The Palo Alto screenings take place at the CineArts at Palo Alto Square.   Information about the film schedule and advance ticket ordering can be found at www.thirdi.org .  Opening Night Film “Meet The Patels,” though, has absolutely no tickets available.


13th San Francisco Transgender Film Festival

This annual celebration of transgender and gender variant culture returns to the Roxie with three days’ worth of films from around the world.  Among the films presented are: Cheryl Dunye’s short “Black Is Blue,” the story of a stealth trans man security guard with past emotional baggage; “CrashPad Behind The Scenes: Emma Claire and Golden Curlz,” a behind the scenes video portrait of two filmmakers who work for the S.F.-based queer porn website crashpadseries.com; and “Against The Grain,” a portrait of queer Nigerian cultural organizer and artist OluSeyi, whose spirit is transcending gender.

All screenings take place November 7-9, 2014 at the Roxie Theater.  The full program schedule and advance ticket ordering information can be found at www.sftff.org. 

Except for the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival, all the festivals mentioned will screen their films from November 6-9, 2014.

 Still from “This May Be The Last Time” courtesy of American Indian Film Institute.

About the Author

I'm a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film...but don't tell anyone.

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