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The 24th S.F. Independent Film Fest Is Coming and it’s Awesome!

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The 24th San Francisco Independent Film Festival (“S.F. Indie Fest” for those in the know) is coming February 3-13, 2022.  This year, there are 68 different films (42 shorts and 26 features) from 10 countries available for screening in-person at the Roxie Theater.  Those who can’t make it to the theater for a scheduled screening or are worried about catching the Omicron variant of COVID can catch S.F. Indie Fest offerings online and on demand at www.sfindie.com.

Remember, if you do in-person screenings, get your tickets in advance.  Not only do advance ticket purchasers get a $1 discount off the purchase price, but there are no service charges to eat away at the discount.  Also, the Roxie is limiting in-person attendance to half of theater capacity, so there will be less seats available.  Of course, please remember to wear a mask and have your proof of vaccination ready when you come to the theater.

One advantage of going in person is having a chance to check out on February 5 the Final Bad Art Gallery Show.  After 10 years, it’s time to wrap things up with a final showing of 30 awful paintings (plus snarky catalog notes) needing forever homes.

Party-minded S.F. Indie Fest attendees won’t be left in the cold.  The last Bad Art Gallery Show will have an accompanying party.  Of course, there’s an Opening Night Party at the Make-Out Room on February 3.  The “Love Letter Templates/IndieFest After Party” on February 9 at Delirium will be a combination punk metal dance party and filmmaker meet and greet.

The Sleeping Negro

Kicking things off for the 24th S.F. Indie Fest is Skinner Myers’ timely drama “The Sleeping Negro.”  In it, an unnamed Black man questions how much of his present material success is owed to his complicity in screwing over fellow Blacks.  Complicating his doubts are conversations with an old friend who drank the “up by your bootstraps” Kool-Aid and a white girlfriend whose racial awareness might be far less than advertised.  If you hated “Green Book”’s undisturbing take on American race relations, then you need to see this film.

The other Opening Night film is Josef Wladyka’s thriller “Catch The Fair One.”  It’s the story of a Native American former boxer who goes in search of her missing kid sister.  This search leads to her entanglement with a human trafficking operation and its chain of command.  The film’s executive produced by Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”).

A different sort of fighter is Vietnamese-American jiu jitsu artist Mai Nguyen.  She’s the subject of Asali Echols’ documentary “Lion On The Mat.”  Her training for an upcoming match is interspersed with revelations of a back story involving an abusive childhood in Vietnam and a traumatic relationship with a now ex-husband.

Jules Retzlaff’s short film “Dedicated To Those Who” looks at the past, present, and future struggles of life in San Francisco.

For those who found adventure or freedom in San Franicisco’s post-millennium nightclub scene, they may want to check out “Love Letter Templates.”  Joselito Sering’s collection of a baker’s dozen animated music videos follows several people lost in The City’s post-rave/proto-hipster scene of the early aughts.  The characters include Cronos, who grows from an LSD-dealing kid to an absentee father with mental health issues; Stella, an up-and-coming designer who’s lost in the nightclub scene; and Tron, a much-desired musician who can only commit to himself.

The titular Iggy in Tim Nathan and Angelica Campion’s animated short “Squirrel Mountain: Iggy To The Rescue” is none other than Iggy Pop himself.  He saves the titular mountain from an attack by the Evil Egg and an army of subversive Knitted Chickens (yes, really).

How did local filmmaker Derrick Scocchera get Stephen Fry to narrate his satirical film “It’s Always Something?”  However he accomplished it, any viewer who has performed one of the weird or inexplicable human behaviors depicted in the film might want to reconsider doing it in the future lest they imagine Fry’s voice making fun of them.

Nick Gillespie’s dark comedy “Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break” might be described as what happens when you mix “America’s Got Talent” with a serial killer tale.  Paul Dood’s dream of becoming famous via a national talent show gets ruined through the actions of five selfish people.  Now he’s decided to use his lunch break to seek revenge on those selfish louts.  But is the fame Dood gets from those killings really the type of attention he wants?

Double,” the titular protagonist of Valerio Valente’s film, is an actor whose “day job” is hotel night receptionist.  He also possesses the power of invisibility.  This special power gets used by Double to spy on hotel guests, his fellow actors, and anybody else who catches his interest.  But what happens when Double discovers that the play he’s appearing in works just as well without his role?

All My Friends Hate Me

The Centerpiece Film “All My Friends Hate Me” concerns a college friend reunion that turns out to be the weekend from Hell.  In Andrew Gaynord’s dark comedy, Pete attempts to connect again with his old college friends.  Yet their teasing makes him wonder if they’re out to get him…or he’s just terribly insecure.

Andrew Zuckerman’s ensemble comedy/drama “Undergrads” follows a group of college undergraduates on the last weekend before graduation.  By the time Monday classes rolls around, some existing relationships will have broken or be seriously weakened while some new relationships will have been born.

In Claire Fleming’s animated short “Lines,” such stars as Letitia Wright and Riz Ahmed read six young prisoners’ poems.  These works talk about the young writers’ hopes, dreams, and fears.

In Curtis Pollock’s thriller “The Roommate,” sudden unemployment inspires Alexis to up stakes from New York City and move to Austin, Texas.  Things look rosy as she’s got an arrangement with her new roommate Brenda, and she’s arriving during the city’s annual music festival.  However, on arrival, things turn decidedly darker for Alexis.  Brenda’s vanished, and Alexis’ journey through the music scene in search of her future roommate soon leaves unclear who she can truly trust.

In Shandaeya Renee Caldwell’s dramatic short “Kiana,” the titular Black woman is self-isolating in her apartment because of COVID-19 concerns.  Then she learns about the murder of Breonna Taylor.  The combination of the pandemic and the murder makes Kiana consider just how vulnerable and isolated Black women such as her have become.

Cat Daddies

Veteran animator Bill Plympton’s new film “Demi’s Panic” concerns a NYC Latina whose nightmares involve an unprecedented storm which transforms both her life and that of her city.  Any resemblance to the COVID-19 pandemic is not coincidental.

The title of the short film “Blue Bison” refers to a group of vigilantes who kidnap wrongdoers and force their confessions.  But this particular night, their M.O. will wind up yielding far different results than expected.  If co-director/writer/lead actor Camrus Johnson’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he plays Luke Fox on the CW series “Batwoman.”

Paul Owens’ creepy “LandLocked” centers on a video camera that can see into the past.  Mason discovers the camera and uses it to record as many memories as possible before his childhood home is demolished.  The director’s actual home movies are used in the film.  His actual family members play fictionalized versions of themselves.

For something a little more pleasant and smile inducing, there’s the documentary “Cat Daddies.”  Director Mye Hoang travels around the country to offer portraits of eight different men and their loving relationships with cats.  The men include an aspiring actor, a homeless man, and a team of firefighters.

Eric Bricker’s documentary “Alumination” traces the decades-long history of the Airstream travel trailer.  Wally Byum’s invention has become synonymous with adventure, friendship, and communion with nature.  Kate Pierson of The B-52s narrates this look at the evolution of what was once a simple trailer into a passport to freedom.

Alumination

In Sean Gillane’s “Return Service,” Aaron’s job is returning suitcases and bags to airline passengers who’ve lost their luggage.  Unfortunately for him, the passengers are far from grateful and his dispatcher acts as if he can somehow transcend the space-time continuum.  What will it take for Aaron to get some me time?

Definitely not for the faint of heart is Harpo Guit and Lenny Guit’s Closing Night Film “Mother Schmuckers.”  This pitch-dark comedy concerns Issachar and Zabulon, a pair of twenty-something dumbass brothers who must find a dog they lost.  Unfortunately for them, said dog belongs to their mother, who gives them 24 hours to find her beloved pet before she kicks them out of her home.  You’ll know if this film is for you based on your reaction to the film’s opening sequence.  It involves the two dumbass brothers trying to cook their own poop in a frying pan.

The other Closing Night Film, “We Were Once Kids,” looks at the legacy of one of the 1990s’ most controversial films.  Larry Clark’s cult hit film “Kids” shocked many viewers with its tale of actual NYC teenagers engaging in sex- and drug-fueled excess on the streets of New York City’s Greenwich Village.  Eddie Martin’s documentary looks at what happened to the teens who appeared in the film and some of the people who worked on “Kids.”  Readers already know Harmony Korine has become a famous director while actresses Rosario Dawson and Chloe Sevigny have incredible film careers.  Martin’s film will clue viewers in on the fates of the other kids who appeared in Clark’s film.

Whichever S.F. Indie Fest films you choose to catch, you can rest assured the best of these films offer viewpoints and ideas that have not been created out of streaming service algorithms.

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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.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth J Codeglia
    February 6, 2022 at 1:14 am — Reply

    Is David Lanning showing his film “This Side Up”? Do you know he has not paid the crew that worked on this film in October 2020? He owes over $50,0000 and won’t return calls or emails. He’s been sued by the wardrobe person and won a default judgement. Other are suing as well.

    Are you going to show the film?

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