My first day at SFFilm

I didn’t get to the SFFilm Festival until Sunday. For me personally, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were all kind of crazy. Especially Thursday.

But the festival was finding its own kind of craziness: The Victoria Theater‘s digital projector was not working. (Now it’s time for all you 35mm fanatics to snicker.) It appears that the Victoria will be down for the rest of the festival. Most of the films that were to be screened at the Vic will now play at the CGV San Francisco 14 at 1000 Van Ness Ave.

CGV San Francisco trim
The CGV San Francisco 14 hides in a building that doesn’t look like a theater

Linoleum is the only exception. It’s screening at the Castro.

The CGV San Francisco had its own technical problem when I got there. A couple of escalators were out…and that’s in a theater is on the 7th floor. But at least the CGV has comfortable chairs. The Victoria’s seats could be used for torture devices. But then, there are more food options near the Victoria.

I only got to see one film at the festival Sunday. But it was fantastic. It’s from Bolivia, and it’s titled Utama. The word means our home in Quechua – the film’s main language (there’s also some Spanish).


The film is about climate change, but it never mentions the world-wide catastrophe. An old couple raise llamas and have apparently been doing so for a very long time. But they’re getting old, and there’s little or no water anymore. The ground is just hard dirt. Their grandson arrives and tries to help, and even attempts to suggest bringing them to the city. But the extremely stubborn grandfather, who has a horrible cough, will have none of it, including medical care. Barbara Alvarez’s cinematography creates forbidden looking yet beautiful landscapes. More than any other film I’ve seen, Utama made climate disaster personal. I give it an A.

According to the SFFilm website, director Alejandro Loayza Grisi was expected to attend for Q&A. But when I saw it, there was no discussion.

You have one more chance to see Utama at SFFilm. That’s at BAMPFA (in Berkeley), Thursday, April 28, 6:00pm.