SFIFF Closing Night: Don’t Stop Believin’

This year’s San Francisco International Film Festival ended with a blast of rock and roll.

B+ Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey
I’ve never been a fan of Journey, but this music documentary made me a fan of the band’s new lead singer, Arnel Pineda. He’s charismatic, energetic, down-to-earth, and funny. He also has a great set of pipes. Filmmaker dont_stop_believinRamona S. Diaz tells his story, the band’s story, but mostly, the story of how he became a part of Journey. Band members, desperate for a new singer, found the poverty-stricken, Manilla-based Pineda on Youtube, flew him out to California, worked with him for a few weeks, then took him on the most successful tour of Journey’s long history. This is a true-life fairy tale with no significant conflict–the worst thing that happens to Arnel is a head cold. That lack of conflict makes the movie drag at times, but Pineda has such a magnetic personality, and what happens to him is so upbeat, that it becomes the ultimate feel-good movie.

After the movie, I road in a bus (supplied by the Festival) to the Closing Night Party at Sloane Squared. It took a long time to get in, thanks to two big bouncers were letting people in only a few at a time. Once inside, it was too crowded and too noisy. I didn’t stay long.

Despite the disappointing party, the movie itself was a great way to end the Festival. I’ll post an overview of the Festival soon.