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The Bay Area Takes a Star Turn at the San Francisco International Film Festival

Five standout flicks with local ties, coming to a silver screen near you.


The Force

(1 of 4)

Nature, Nurtured

(2 of 4)

THX 1138

(3 of 4)


(4 of 4)


The San Francisco International Film Festival celebrates turning 60 this month with its signature rich mix of films, from fly-on-the-wall documentaries to wildly imaginative narrative works (April 5–19). It’s also paying tribute to some other Bay Area champions of filmmaking: There’s a 10-year retrospective of the Disposable Film Festival and a half-century nod to Canyon Cinema, the groundbreaking avant-garde distributor. Here are five more ways this year’s festival aims the spotlight on the local cinematic landscape. 

Nature, Nurtured
In 2001, Thomas Riedelsheimer’s doc Rivers and Tides drew international attention to British artist Andy Goldsworthy’s works on the theme of flowing water and other currents. Riedelsheimer’s new film about the artist, Leaning into the Wind, makes its premiere at the fest, alongside a screening of the original film at the Vogue, near the Presidio, where Goldsworthy has installed four pieces since 2008. 
Apr. 8, SFMOMA 

An Overlooked Icon
With Dolores, Peter Bratt (La Mission), the older brother of Benjamin Bratt, convincingly argues that Stockton-raised labor leader Dolores Huerta, who cofounded United Farm Workers, is every bit the movement builder Cesar Chavez was but never received her due. Bratt draws lines from Huerta’s early organizing work to today’s get-out-the-vote strategies and the modern-day environmental justice movement.
Apr. 9, Castro Theatre

Prepare for Turbulence
Oakland resident Peter Nicks’s The Force goes inside the Oakland Police Department between 2014 and 2016. The film, which won the documentary prize for best director at Sundance, examines the OPD through the lens of then–police chief Sean Whent’s mission of reform, Black Lives Matter, and, eventually, the department sex scandal that led to Whent’s resignation.
Apr. 11, Victoria Theatre

Revisiting a Classic…
George Lucas’s 1971 film THX 1138 offers a dystopian vision suitable for the age of Trump. Shot mostly in the BART tunnels, Lucas’s directorial debut depicts a society that has largely done away with perversions like feelings and touching. The film will get a live rescoring by U.K. electronic collective Asian Dub Foundation.
Apr. 11, Castro Theatre 

…and Remixing Another
And finally, The Green Fog: A San Francisco Fantasia feeds Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo into the experimental mind of Guy Maddin (Brand Upon the Brain!). Maddin has re-created the noir classic by constructing a collage of Bay Area footage, without using a single frame from the original 1958 film. With a live score by Kronos Quartet and a live Foley sound element, the closing-night event offers a glorious and otherworldly vision of the city. 
Apr. 16, Castro Theatre 


Originally published in the April issue of San Francisco

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