The San Francisco Documentary Film Festival (SF DocFest) returns to San Francisco May 29 – June 13, 2019 for the 18th edition of the festival. SF DocFest will screen 48 acclaimed documentary features and 36 short films from around the world at the Roxie Theater and Brava Theater in San Francisco. Full lineup is available at www.sfindie.com. For more information, please visit our website or contact DocFest at 415-662-FEST or email [email protected].
Festival Opening Night Film – CASSANDRO THE EXOTICO!
Director: Marie Losier – France – 73 min – U.S. Premiere
Wednesday, May 29th at 8pm at the Brava Theater
Famed for his flamboyant drag, sky-high pompadour, and show-stopping flips, Cassandro’s trailblazing ascent as one of the first openly gay lucha libre wrestlers has resonated for a quarter century. CASSANDRO THE EXOTICO!captures a prize-winning fighter who reinvented a staunchly macho sport, knocking out opponents and coping with a body pushed to its limits. Cassandro’s story—the underdog and a queer icon, simultaneously fragile and mighty—unfolds on both sides of the border. Join us for an after party at the Make Out Room (3225 22nd St) for 60s/70s soul/funk/disco from around the world with DJs Special Lord B, Ben Braken and Bobby Ganush.
Roxie Opening Film – JR “BOB” DOBBS AND THE CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIUS
Director: Sandy K. Boone – USA – 85 min
Thursday, May 30 at 7pm at the Roxie Theater
What started out as an inside joke amongst two self proclaimed weirdos soon becomes much more than they bargained for. Frustrated by the rising consumer-driven culture, out of work pals Douglass St. Clair Smith and Steve Wilcox decide to turn their conservative Southern ideology on its head and invent a new religion all on their own. Spurred by the overreach of religion and zealous televangelists of the day, the pair concoct religious monikers, a newly minted prophet and devise a crusade to expose the conspiracy of normalcy by using humor as the ultimate weapon.
Centerpiece Film – THE BOOK OF THE SEA
Director: Aleksei Vakhrushev – Russia – 85 min – U.S. Premiere
Thursday, June 6 at 7pm at the Roxie Theater
THE BOOK OF THE SEA tells the story of a family in the indigenous community of the Bering Strait in the Far East of Russia who hunt to provide for their families and village. In the midst of the white expanse of ice they stalk seals and circle whales in their boats waiting for the right moment to use their harpoons. Their story of everyday survival is enriched with vividly animated local myths that at times prevail reality. These elements combine to produce a hybrid animated documentary that provides a haunting testimony of life in the Arctic.
Festival Closing Night Film – I WANT MY MTV
Director: Tyler Measom & Patrick Waldrop – USA – 86 min
Thursday, June 13 at 7pm at the Roxie Theater
A touchstone in the lives of millions of young people, as well as a home for musicians and filmmakers to display their offbeat sense of artistic vision, upstart music network MTV burst onto televisions in 1981. Its scrappy young hosts, fly-by-the-seat-of-its-pants production, and music mini-movies were like nothing Americans had ever seen before. A nostalgic and thrilling ride, I WANT MY MTV takes us back to the beginning where a seed of an idea quickly flourished into a beloved but often controversial cultural juggernaut.
Stick around for the closing night party/double feature with I FORGOT WHAT 8 WAS FOR: THE 80s ALT ROCK SING A LONG!
Non-Fiction Vanguard Award: Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce
The San Francisco Documentary Film Festival is pleased to honor documentary filmmakers Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce with the 2019 Non-Fiction Vanguard Award. Blending an approach that embraces both art and entertainment, Argott and Joyce have made films on subjects as diverse as rock bands, nuclear power, legal theft of priceless art collections and who really created Batman. They have become trendsetters in the ongoing documentary renaissance that has taken place in the early 21st century.
Fresh from this year’s 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, Argott and Joyce’s latest film, FRAMING JOHN DELOREAN, is a portrait of the notorious automobile executive John Z. DeLorean. This film explores the renegade visionary (or ultimate con man) who revolutionized the automobile industry and whose car nowadays is mainly associated with the film BACK TO THE FUTURE. In addition to insights via interviews, Alec Baldwin plays John Delorean in re-enactments of key scenes in his life, adding to a deep portrait of a brilliant innovator whose Midas touch ultimately disappeared.
SF DocFest prides itself in recognizing those unconventional, creative risk-taking filmmakers that are redefining the nonfiction cinematic form and are someone to watch. Please join us Saturday, June 1st at 7pm at the Roxie Theater for a screening of FRAMING JOHN DELOREAN and moderated discussion with the filmmakers, followed by a reception around the corner at 518 Valencia Street. Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce are the latest filmmakers the festival has recognized. Past honorees include Penny Lane (2018), Jamie Meltzer (2017), Sean Dunne (2016), Robert Greene (2014) and Melody Gilbert (2008).
Local Film Highlights
From SOMA based filmmaker Fiona McDougall, BUT I LOVE THE ZINE is a documentary short that highlights Zine culture in the Bay Area as told by several artists. One such artist is writer and publisher V. Vale, a North Beach resident. The film will be shown during the Shorts 3: We Have This in Common program on Saturday, June 8th at 12:15pm and Tuesday, June 11th at 7:00pm, both screenings at the Roxie Theater.
CIRCLES tells the story of Eric Butler a Hurricane Katrina survivor and pioneer of the restorative justice movement. He relocates and finds work at an Oakland, California high school enforcing his no-nonsense approach to counseling vulnerable Black and Latino teenagers. Shot over two years, the film follows Butler’s impassioned efforts to nurture troubled youth and keep them in school, fighting racial discrimination by replacing snap suspensions and expulsions with gritty, intimate and honest mentoring. Filmmaker Cassidy Friedman and producer Becca Vershbow are married and are based in Alamo Square in San Francisco. Subject Eric Butler and his son Tre Thomas live in Hayward. CIRCLES will be screened on Saturday, June 1st at 2:30pm at the Roxie Theater.
From Marin County based filmmaker Liz Canning, MOTHERLOAD is a crowdsourced documentary about a new mom’s quest to understand and promote the cargo bike movement in a gas-powered, digital and divided world. As Liz explores the burgeoning global movement to replace cars with purpose-built bikes, she learns about the bicycle’s history and potential future as the ultimate “social revolutionizer.” Her experiences as a cyclist, as a mother, and in discovering the cargo bike world, teach Liz that sustainability is not necessarily about compromise and sacrifice and there are few things more empowering, in an age of consumption, than the ability to create everything from what seems to be nothing. The film will play on Sunday, June 9th at 4:45pm at the Roxie Theater.
In the early 1980’s, a small group of dedicated Bay Area headbangers shunned the hard rock of MTV and Hollywood hairspray bands in favor of a more dangerous brand of metal that became known as thrash. From the tape trading network to the clubs to the record stores and fanzines, director Adam Dubin reveals how the scene nurtured the music and spawned a movement. MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW is told through powerful first person testimony and stunning animation and photography. The film is a social study of a group of young people defying the odds and building something essential for themselves. Featuring interviews with Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Exodus, Testament, Death Angel, Possessed and many more! Narrated by Brian Posehn. MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW will be screened on Friday, May 31st at 9:15pm and Tuesday, and again on June 4th at 9pm, both screenings at the Roxie Theater.
From Oakland resident Ken Paul Rosenthal, WHISPER RAPTURE is an intimate portrait of cellist-vocalist Bonfire Madigan Shive, who transforms her lifelong experiences with hearing voices and suicidal despair into punk-influenced chamber music. Featuring six original Bonfire music compositions vividly animated by luminous images from natural and urban environments, this visually inventive doc-opera radically re-frames the way we think, speak and feel about mental distress. WHISPER RAPTURE screens on Wednesday, June 5th at 9:15pm and Friday, June 7th at 9:15pm, both screenings at the Roxie Theater.
An unusual combination of disorientation and euphoria occurs in the hours leading up to the birth of expectant mother Angelle’s first child. 36 HOURS is an immersive and tender document of quiet love, celebrating the natural processes of life and the labor involved in existence. 36 HOURS will make its world premiere on Monday, June 3rd at 7pm at the Roxie Theater. This film will be shown with the documentary short EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SUDDEN BIRTH.
In DUSTY GROOVE: THE SOUND OF TRANSITION, Chicago vinyl buyer Rick Wojcik walks us into the homes – and stories – of strangers, digging through their jazz, soul, and hip hop records, purchasing their once-prized possessions. Each seller shares a common reason: they face a major life transition. The documentary is a collection of intimate narratives, akin to a record album of songs. About love, loss, and our deep personal connection to music. DUSTY GROOVE will make its world premiere on Saturday, June 8th at 4:45pm and will be screened again on Monday, June 10th at 9pm, both screenings at the Roxie Theater.
Under a code of absolute discretion, guests are invited into the House of the Latitude, a place where truth and fiction are indistinguishable. IN BRIGHT AXIOM follows participants through dark mazes to a place where a powerful spell is cast, and ultimately broken, as we witness the unforeseen consequences of a daring social experiment. This San Francisco story makes its world premiere on Friday, June 7th at 7pm at the Roxie Theater.
The Young Marines teach obedience and loyalty above all else. THE RECRUITS explores the societal influences that lead young people to conform to or reject military doctrine, raising questions about education, militarization, and the perpetuation of violence. THE RECRUITS makes its world premiere on Saturday, June 8th at 4:45pm and will be screened again on Wednesday, June 12th at 7pm, both screenings at the Roxie Theater. This film will be shown with the documentary short GUY HIRCEFELD, A GUY WITH A CAMERA.
The festival is also thrilled to present the U.S. premieres of the following films:
ANBESSA is a coming-of-age story that creates a new perspective on the myth of progress. A curious ten-year-old and his mother have been displaced from their farmland on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the construction of a condominium. As they watch the buildings take shape, this lyrical film exposes the hope and tension engulfing the country. ANBESSA makes its U.S. premiere on Sunday, June 2nd at 9:15pm and is screened again on Friday, June 7th at 4:45pm, both screenings at the Roxie Theater.
BREAKING THEIR SILENCE: WOMEN ON THE FRONTLINE OF THE POACHING WAR makes its U.S. premiere on Friday, June 7th at 7pm at the Roxie Theater. This film examines how wildlife trafficking and illegal poaching are threatening the world’s population of wild animals. Leading conservation efforts and the fight against criminal poachers are bold, courageous women committed to preventing the extinction of Africa’s most vulnerable animals.
CANDICE makes it’s U.S. premiere on Sunday, June 2nd at 7pm and is shown again on Thursday, June 6th at 7pm, both screenings at the Roxie Theater. Candice Vadala aka Candida Royalle began her career as an adult performer and in her thirties began to direct her own films focusing on women’s sexual pleasure, becoming the “godmother of feminist porn.” In her sixties when confronted with an ovarian cancer diagnosis, she is eager to tell her story in her words.
A GROWING THING makes its U.S. premiere on Sunday, June 2nd at 2:30pm and is screened again on Wednesday, June 5th at 7pm, both screenings at the Roxie Theater. This film documents women in a South African township that are empowering themselves to provide financial support for their families and community through a project selling their embroidered goods. Jabulile is part of a small group learning leadership skills and facing the challenges of eventually running the collective to affect change in their community.
UNFINISHED SENTENCES looks at how a filmmaker daughter and her writer father navigate the conflicting issues of their relationship: race and art, adoration and disappointment, success and failure. Until he dies and in her grief, she discovers that his poetry and prose transcend death, allowing her to hear his voice again and find a way back to herself. UNFINISHED SENTENCES makes its U.S. premiere on Saturday, June 1st at 4:45 pm at the Roxie Theater.
Parties and Special Events
There’s a lot of reasons to go to this year’s SF DocFest, but none other than their funky-fun parties! This year’s parties feature:
Breakfast Club Bingo includes screening, bingo card, and prizes! $10/advance $12/door (21up)
Dance Craze $14/advance $15/door or $20 for double feature with PICK IT UP! SKA IN THE 90’S (all ages)
I Forgot What Eight Was For: The 80s Alt Rock Sing-Along $14/advance $15/door or $20 for double feature with I WANT MY MTV (all ages)
Mission BAG (Bad Art Gallery) – A whole new collection of dumpster-dived art awaits at the June edition of the MISSION B.A.G. (Bad Art Gallery). Hilarious catalog notes, paintings curated from only the finest flea markets, thrift stores and back alleys. Join the festival for complimentary beverages, groovy music and bad art! Free, a 21up event.
General Information about DocFest
Presented each year by SF IndieFest, the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival (SF DocFest) returns to San Francisco at the Roxie Theater, Brava Theater, and 518 Gallery. The festival runs May 29th to June 13th. Regular tickets are $14/advance, $15/door. Opening Night Film tickets (includes after party) are $18/advance, $20/door (21up). The AllFestPass, good for all screenings and parties at the Film Festival, is $240. Passholders jump to the front of the line at all screenings. 5Film vouchers are $65, 10Film vouchers are $120. These discount vouchers are only available and only redeemable at sfindie.com. Tickets are now available at sfindie.com and at 415-552-5580. For more info, contact DocFest at 415-662-FEST or [email protected].