SFFilm Festival previews

The San Francisco International Film Festival, also known as SFFilm, isn’t opening at the Castro for the first time in years. Instead, the film Stephen Curry: Underrated will open the event at Oakland’s Grand Lake, Thursday, April 13. Beware, the film is at rush!

The festival will end Sunday, April 23 with I’m A Virgo at CGV San Francisco.

The festival will take place throughout the Bay Area, but mostly in The City. The central hub of the festival is the CGV San Francisco multiplex. Along with the CGV and the Grand Lake, films will screen at the Dolby Cinema at 1275 Market, the Premier Theater, The Walt Disney Family Museum, Berkeley’s BAMPFA, and, of course, the Castro.

The festival opens April 13

Among the films I’m hoping to see are Dreamin’ Wild, Snow and the Bear, I’m A Virgo, and BlackBerry, which won this year’s Sloan Science Prize.

As I write this, I have been able to watch four films that will play at SFFilm this year. Three of them were documentaries. Hopefully, I’ll get a better balance between fiction and non-fiction.

A- Daliland

You can call this film Ben Kingsley as Salvador Dalí. But the film is too fascinating, too thoughtful, and too entertaining to throw away with a glib line. This is Dali in his old age (it’s mostly set in the 1970s). The story is mostly seen through the eyes of an exceptionally good-looking young man new to Dali’s entourage. The early scenes, set in New York, are fun and wild. But when they return to France, Dali becomes more difficult. You won’t see any of his paintings, but you’ll see a lot of nudity.

Daliland will screen only once during the festival, at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, on Saturday, April 15, at 7:45pm.

A- Joan Baez I Am a Noise

If you’re expecting a collection of concert footage, you’ll be very disappointed. You get a bit of it, but not much. Neither will you get a cry for peace and justice. Instead you get an aged yet still physically fit woman, who tells you about her life, good and bad – mostly bad. There’s little about her famous lovers: Bob Dylan,  ex-husband David Harris, and strangest of all, Steve Job (who’s never mention in this film). The big surprise for me was that for many years, she was using Quaaludes.

Joan Baez I Am a Noise plays on Tuesday, April 18 at 5:0pm at the Castro Theatre. Joan Baez, Miri Navasky, and Karen O’Connor are expected.

B- Rally

If you’re interested in recent San Francisco history, this one is a must – even though it’s like every other biographical documentary. The subject of this particular doc is Rose Pak, a Chinatown political power broker. For decades, politicians did what she told them to do, and in doing so, helped life in Chinatown and the whole city. According to this film, she did more for the good than for the bad. Short, dumpy, and constantly smoking, she didn’t look like a powerful politician.

Rally plays twice:
֍ CGV San Francisco, Friday, April 21, 5:30pm, At Rush!
֍ BAMPFA, Sunday, April 23, noon

C+ Confessions of a Good Samaritan

Want to save a stranger’s life? Filmmaker Penny Lane did just that and filmed it. She became a kidney donor, giving an organ to someone she doesn’t even know. We’re all born with two kidneys, but you need only one. But if both are in bad condition, someone else can give you their spare. Lane’s documentary often feels very much like a feature-length commercial advertisement for organ donation. Other times, it seems like a commercial for Penny Lane, telling us how good she is. On the other hand, if enough people see this movie, someone might just save a life.

The documentary will play at CGV San Francisco on Sunday, April 16, 5:30pm.