Film Festival Gala: Week Two

This past couple of weeks has been a festival-palooza with cinephiles, featuring festivals covering everything from Native American film to Romanian film. This weekend, a trio of festivals are wrapping up, but two other festivals make their debut. What follows is a quick guide to what’s available.

Wrapping Up

The 40th American Indian Film Festival wraps up its run at SF’s AMC Metreon 16 with two programs of shorts and feature films. Of the features, Children of the Arctic offers a documentary year-in-the-life portrait of teen Native Americans living in Barrow, Alaska (aka the United States’ northernmost community) as they juggle tradition and modernity. Mekko, by contrast, is a character study of a Native American ex-convict learning to readjust to the outside world after two decades in prison. That readjustment process includes seeking atonement for his sins. The shorts include music videos from such acts as A Tribe Called Red and Mariame Hasni. Program information can be found here.

The San Francisco Film Society’s annual New Italian Cinema festival still has some surprises in its remaining screenings at SF’s Vogue Theater. Fans of dog films will want to check out Italo, the story of a stray friendly golden retriever who prefers wandering the streets of a small Sicilian town unleashed…even though said town’s government recently banned unleashed strays. Partly Cloudy With Sunny Spells stars noted Italian actors Luca Zingaretti and Pasquale Petrolo as manufacturing cooperative founders who have to deal with the discovery of oil on the cooperative’s property. Closing Night film Mia Madre comes from veteran director Nanni Moretti. It concerns a filmmaker who has to juggle the stresses of directing a social-realist drama with buried emotional turmoil re-awakened by her mother’s illness. See what’s playing when here.

The 11th Another Hole In The Head Film Festival roars into its final weekend at SF Japantown’s New People Cinema with a mix of new indie genre films and some cherished revivals (e.g. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari with a new live score). Christopher Coppola’s Sacred Blood is a vampire film that doubles as a twisted love letter to San Francisco’s darker side. Veteran Canadian confrontational cinema director Larry Kent dramatizes the dangers of unfettered fundamentalist Christian fanaticism in his disturbingly powerful She Who Must Burn. Closing Night film is Bite, Chad Archibald’s body horror tale of a prospective bride who winds up worrying about something more pressing than wedding jitters after she gets bitten by an insect in Costa Rica. Program information can be found here.

Opening This Week

Where can you see films that give you an honest picture of life in the transgender community? Why at the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival, of course. This year’s edition (mainly at the Roxie Theatre) offers a collection of films about transgender life from around the world. These films include the shorts Latha Linga: Nepal’s Lesbian Community In The Earthquake (about a Nepalese transgender activist fighting for trans rights despite long odds against success) and Technical Difficulties Of Intimacy (transgender icon Buck Angel screws around with the tropes of 1960s Rock Hudson-Doris Day romantic comedies). The highlight, though, would be the Castro Theater premiere of the Kickstarted documentary Major!, a portrait of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, legendary transgender activist of color and Stonewall Riots veteran. Needless to say, she was NOT amused by Roland Emmerich’s recent white-washed re-telling of that seminal event. Check out the schedule here.

For a look at what’s happening in Hong Kong cinema now, the interested viewer should turn to the San Francisco Film Society’s fifth Hong Kong Cinema Film Festival. The Vogue Theater plays host to several popular and acclaimed films. These include the Johnnie To musical Office (Chow Yun Fat and Sylvia Chang starring in a tale of corporate double dealings on the eve of the 2008 financial meltdown) which is being presented in 3-D; Dante Lam’s competitive bicycle racing tale To The Fore (Hong Kong’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar entry); and the incredibly popular Chinese hit Monster Hunt (fantasy adventure about a collision between the world of humans and the world of still very active beasts and monsters). More info about the festival’s offerings can be found here.

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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