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Wonderful S.F. Indie Shorts

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They’ve brought to San Francisco the Church of the SubGenius (“JR ‘Bob’ Dobbs And The Church Of The Subgenius”) and growing up in a notorious Oklahoma City strip club (“Red Dog”).  They’ve warped local moviegoers’ minds with films ranging from Neil Marshall’s soldiers vs. werewolves tale “Dog Soldiers” to the violently perverse “Salo”-level “must un-see now” tale “A Serbian Film.”   

Now they’re about to launch a new film festival dedicated to short films.  Who are they? Why, they’re the folks behind the San Francisco Independent Film Festival (aka S.F. IndieFest).  Shorts programs have been an incredibly popular portion of previous S.F. IndieFest-produced festivals. So why not a whole festival featuring only short films?  Enter S.F. IndieFest’s San Francisco Independent Shorts Film Festival (aka S.F. Indie Shorts). Broke-Ass Stuart’s, by the way, is one of the S.F. Indie Shorts’ sponsors.

 Running September 13-15 at San Francisco’s New People Cinema in Japantown, the first S.F. Indie Shorts Festival will feature over 12 different programs 92 short films from around the world.  Of these selections, 26 of these short films hail from 21 countries outside the United States. These places of origin include Namibia, Brazil, Canada, and the State of Palestine.  

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The initial S.F. Indie Shorts programs and their subjects are: “Infinite While It Lasts” (relationship stories), “The Response Isn’t Always Reasonable” (films about conflicts), “The Kids Are All Right?” (films about kids, duh), “True Stories Part 1” (documentary shorts about identity), “What Do We Do Now?” (comedy shorts), “No Forks In The Road” (stories about transitions), “For Art’s Sake” (collection of funny, weird, and otherwise offbeat shorts in various genres), “True Stories Part 2” (assorted documentary shorts), “All In The Family” (stories about problems with the relatives), “Global Affairs” (short stories from around the world), “Keep Coming Back” (films about making connections), and “Death With Benefits” (the genre/SF/what have you program).

If you’re looking for suggestions on shorts to catch, try these:

“Better Than You Doin’ You (Don’t Be Mad)”–What can Cee V do when she’s surrounded by the mediocre office zombies she fears?  Lift up her chin, puff out her chest, and show she’s determined to be better than the zombies around her. (Screens as part of the “For Art’s Sake” program)

“Blue Light”–Thanks to an upgrade to his Blue Light System memory program, V can retain consciousness of his good memories and block his more painful recollections.  So what happens when V encounters a mysterious object that dates back to before his Blue Light upgrade? (Screens as part of the “Death With Benefits” program)

“Bonbone”–A Palestinian couple want to conceive a child.  However, the husband is rotting in an Israeli jail where visits are greatly restricted.  Desperation leads them to use an unusual method to realize their dream. (Screens as part of the “Global Affairs” program)

“Debbie And Doug Drop Acid In The Desert”–The fire and even a sense of a future together has gone out of Debbie and Doug’s marriage.  Desperate for solutions, the couple sees an alternative therapist. The unusual answer offered by the therapist: go to Joshua Tree National Park…and drop acid.  (Screens as part of the “Keep Coming Back” program)  

“Heel On Red, The Life And Photography Of Sam Holden”–Donna Sherman delivers a visual personal essay about her boyfriend photographer Sam Holden.  Not only is he a skilled photographer, but he also has a strong interest in fetish gigs. (Screens as part of the “True Stories Part 1” program)

“Infinite While It Lasts”–Danny and Seiji want to be together as a couple.  But their differences may be stronger than their feelings. The first fiction film about asexuality.  (Screens as the title selection in the “Infinite While It Lasts” program)

“The Last Harvest”–Natural and sustainable food may be an in-thing now.  But hand-picking is still the way to obtain ¾ of all the fresh and sustainable fruit Americans eat each year.  Now imagine what happens to those crops and their growers when the harvesting workforce disappears. (Screens as part of the “True Stories Part 2” program)

“Leaving Therapy”–Miranda’s therapy sessions with Dr. Cohen have badly floundered.  The patient’s unhappy about her therapist’s inability to provide quick fixes for her personal problems.  Meanwhile, the therapist’s professional perfection and demeanor increasingly fails to conceal the doctor’s own problems in keeping her life functioning.  What happens to this duo’s civility and tempers when they wind up trapped together? (Screens as part of the “Keep Coming Back” program)

“Made Public”–Husband-to-be Dave accidentally sabotages his wedding day when his doubts about tying the knot go viral.  Now, alone at the altar, he has to publicly confront both his own cold feet and the anger of his bride-to-be…all to “save his marriage before it’s even begun.” (Screens as part of the “What Do We Do Now?” program)   

“Miracle”–Single-mother Sisonke has been traveling to churches hoping to find a cure for her daughter’s mysterious disability.  But what was once a search for a faith-based miracle has now become Sisonke’s vendetta regarding her relationship with God. (Screens as part of the “Global Affairs” program)

“Mothership To Reno”–Every Easter weekend, drag performers Heklina and Sue Casa act as den mothers to a 100 drag queen strong bus trip to Reno.  Why they do it and what happens in Reno, you’ll have to see for yourself. (Screens as part of the “True Stories Part 1” program)

“My Mother, Myself And I”–This story shows how the fraught parent-child relationship between a single mother and her son changes over the years.  Long takes are used to capture events in the boy’s life at ages 5, 10, 20, and 25 years. The change process in the mother-son relationship involves tiptoeing around such stressful subjects as the social taboos on homosexuality.  (Screens as part of the “All In The Family” program)

“One Thousand Stories:  The Making Of A Mural”–Remember JR, Agnes Varda’s muralist partner from “Faces Places?”   He’s come to San Francisco to create his first video mural project “The Chronicles Of San Francisco.”  Viewers fearing the photo-muralist will leave empty-handed thanks to this City by the Bay’s political and social divisions are in for a surprise.  Over 1000 personal stories gets collected from an incredible range of people to bring JR’s video mural to life. (Screens as part of the “True Stories Part 2” program)

“Skin”–In a small blue collar town, a black man smiles across a market’s checkout aisle at a 10-year-old white boy.  That innocuous act sparks a ruthless gang war in the town. Academy Award winner, Best Live Action Short 2019. (Screens as part of the “The Response Isn’t Always Reasonable” program)

“To Fix A Guy”–My and Sally’s idyllic life gets thrown off-balance when they help a guy who appears on their doorstep.  Happy to help at first, the two women soon regret their generosity when the guy’s presence starts usurping their lives. A feminist comedy about emotional labor.  (Screens as part of the “For Art’s Sake” program)

The shorts suggested above admittedly may not be to every viewer’s taste.  But whatever short films the viewer chooses to see at this festival, hopefully the pieces of cinematic dim sum they select will deliver movie bliss. 

(Further information about the S.F. Indie Shorts programs, including the ordering of advance tickets and further details about other festival shorts, can be found at http://sfindie.com )

 

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Peter Wong

Peter Wong

I've been reviewing films for quite a few years now, principally for the online publication Beyond Chron. My search for unique cinematic experiences and genre dips have taken me everywhere from old S.F. Chinatown movie theaters showing first-run Jackie Chan movies to the chilly slopes of Park City. Movies having cat pron instantly ping my radar.