IndieFest is a difficult film festival to categorize. It doesn’t focus on an identifiable group of people, such as the Jewish Film Festival or Frameline. It doesn’t stick to one genre, such as noir or horror. And it doesn’t get the potential art house hits that San Francisco International and Mill Valley enjoy.
Instead, IndieFest concentrates entirely on movies unlikely to get a theatrical release in this country. This will probably be your first and last chance to catch any of them.
This year, IndieFest runs from Thursday, February 2 to Thursday, February 16. During that time, it will screen 43 feature films and 48 shorts. The festival will also host ten parties, including their traditional Big Lebowski Party on Friday, February 10.
As I write this, I’ve seen two of the films to be screened:
B Folk Hero & Funny Guy
This pleasant road trip comedy compares those who easily find success and those who struggle for it. A successful folk rock musician (Wyatt Russell of Everybody Wants Some) takes his best friend, a struggling standup comic (Alex Karpovsky of Girls), on tour as his opening act. The idea is to recharge the comic’s creative energy. But the trip only emphasizes how mismatched they’ve become over the years. Fame, money, and easy sex just fall into the musician’s lap, while the comic is awkward, both on stage and off. The scenes of his performances are painful in their lack of humor. Of course, there’s a beautiful, down-to-earth woman between them. An enjoyable film but not exceptional.
Folk Hero & Funny Guy opens IndieFest at the Brava Theatre, Thursday, February 2, at 7:00.
B+ Down Under
It takes some time to warm up to this dark Australian comedy. The accents are hard to follow, and most of the characters are violent, vicious, ultra-macho, and stupid beyond belief. But that, of course, is the point. In the aftermath of Sydney’s 2005 Cronulla riots, a group of young white men set out to beat up Muslims. Meanwhile, a group of Muslim young men, incensed by the violent attacks on their community, set out to beat up the white hooligans. This can’t end well. But as their misadventures go into the night, the movie proved wildly funny. But it’s also, in the end, tragic; you can’t satirize the stupidity of violence without killing off characters.
- Roxie Theatre, Sunday, February 5, 9:30
- Roxie Theatre, Friday, February 10 9:30
Here are some promising films I haven’t seen:
- Saltwater: A young woman visits Southern California’s Salton Sea and uncovers a mystery. This is the last film by recently-deceased Bay Area filmmaker Lise Swenson.
- Fear Itself: A documentary examination of how women are portrayed in horror films. From Charlie Lyne , who made Beyond Clueless.
- A Revolution in Four Seasons: Another documentary about women. This one follows two leaders in Tunisia’s Arab Spring.
- Hunky Dory: A bisexual would-be rock star is forced to change his lifestyle when his 11-year-old son steps into his life.
- Superpowerless: What happens when a superhero gets old and starts losing his powers?