SFFILM Fest Preview, Part 3: Running from fundamentalists, standing up to fundamentalists, Raising Hell, and just being weird

Here’s my third and last batch of films that will screen at the upcoming SFFILM Festival (also known as the San Francisco International Film Festival). All of the films are new, and none of them are narratives.

A Midnight Traveler

This documentary also works as a heart-stopping thriller. A family must leave Afghanistan; the father’s name is on the Taliban’s death list. But getting out of the fanatics’ reach is only the beginning. They travel, often illegally, from country to country. The mother and father are both filmmakers, and they recorded their travels on their smartphones. While the parents struggle, their adorable daughters treat the ordeal like a grand adventure. An amazing film.

A- The Grand Bizarre

This strange flick reminded me of the experimental films I saw in the early 1970s – usually in an altered state. I liked this one a lot…even sober. It’s not a narrative or a documentary, but a collection of strange images – mostly around textiles. Undercranking, overcranking, and stop-motion animation provide outrageous visuals and sounds. Almost always beautiful, often hypnotic, and only occasionally boring. And like those movies for the ’70s, it was shot in 16mm.

B+ We Believe in Dinosaurs

Everyone in this documentary believes in dinosaurs. But too many believe that they lived with people. Directors Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross use Ken Hamm’s Ark Encounter to explore the controversy between those who believe the Bible is 100% accurate history, and people who accept overwhelming evidence. Yes, the filmmakers are on the side of science, but they give their adversaries a lot of time. Warning: This will boil your blood.

B+ RAISE HELL: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins

This biographical documentary follows the life of the late, great Texan newspaper columnist and rabble rouser. It’s surprisings just how Texan Ivins was…despite her leftist views. For instance, she hunted and drank a lot of beer. But what makes the movie especially enjoyable are the clips of her talking, usually in front of audiences. When she compares her cancer to Newt Gingrich…well, her Texas accent makes it all the funnier.