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Thread: San Francisco International Film Festival 2018

  1. #31
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    THE WHITE GIRL (Jenny Suen, Christopher Doyle 2017)

    Famous Wong Kar-wai cinematographer Doyle may draw festival attention to this return-to-Hong Kong film, but frankly it's a non-starter. A wan mood piece about a girl who must hide from the sun, a street boy who sells mosquito coils and lives with a mute Buddhist priest who makes Rube Goldberg machines, and a Japanese pop Star who lives in an empty tower.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-16-2018 at 11:54 PM.

  2. #32
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    The Golden Gate Awards for feature films and McBaine documentary feature competition.


    NATO MARVANIDZE IN SCARY MOTHER


    The SFIFF does give awards, and their top ones are these, divided into documentary and fiction feature. Here are the 2018 nominees. Ten of each. The winners, announced Apr. 15, 2018, are in red. Links to the Filmleaf reviews. Given here are the SFIFF blurbs.


    2018 GGA NEW DIRECTORS (NARRATIVE FEATURE) COMPETITION

    Djon África, João Miller Guerra and Felipa Reis, Portugal/Brazil/Cape Verde
    At loose ends in Lisbon, Miguel (Miguel Moreira) is prompted by a chance encounter to search for the father he has never known in Cape Verde, where he encounters a diverse mélange of residents. From cheeky bus riders to a ribald farmwoman who serves as a kind of cultural griot, Guerra and Reis's winning and funny debut uses the road movie format as its jumping-off point for a culturally rich portrait of the verdant and beautiful landscapes of Cape Verde.

    I Am Not a Witch, Rungano Nyoni, UK/France
    "The child is a witch," exclaim the villagers in the opening of this strikingly beautiful first feature by Rungano Nyoni. When young Shula is accused of witchcraft in her village, she is exiled, her movements constrained, and she is expected to perform miracles; however, she is not prepared to live this way forever. Employing breathtaking composition, Nyoni layers magical realism, satire, and social critique to blur reality with the surreal in this original and unforgettable story.

    Night Comes On, Jordana Spiro, USA
    Jordana Spiro's heartfelt and nuanced debut feature concerns Angel, just out of juvenile detention, and her sister, currently in a foster home. Angel is determined to confront her father about their past, while her sibling needs her to stay out of trouble so they can build on their bond. Newcomers Dominique Fishback (The Deuce) and Tatum Marilyn Hall give authentic and grounded performances, intimately capturing the close bond of sisterhood as they desperately try to remain a family against their complex circumstances.

    Ravens, Jens Assur, Sweden
    A young boy, whose aspirations lie away from the family farm, tries to take a stand against his father, a stubborn and taciturn man who extols the virtues of toil and sacrifice. As their conflict butts up against challenging economic and emotional realities, the lives of all family members, including the boy's dissatisfied mother, are profoundly altered. With a stark visual sensibility and powerful performances, Assur's debut feature beautifully renders the story of a life that seems to offer little way out.

    Scary Mother, Ana Urushadze, Georgia/Estonia (Filmleaf review-ND/NF 2018)
    Manana, a wild-haired 50-something mother of three, has just written a book. The problem is that the novel is clearly autobiographical and leaves no family member unscathed. As the ramifications of her artistic endeavor unravel in compellingly bizarre fashion, Manana's single-minded pursuit of her new calling leads the film into brave and uncharted territory.

    The Sower, Marine Francen, France
    In a rural mountain village in 1851, it is up to the women to bring in the grain harvest after all their men have been arrested for sedition. Under these challenging circumstances, their livelihoods as well as their desire for children become an obsession and when a mysterious man appears, these concerns play out in continually surprising and erotic fashion in this frank, feverish, and ravishingly beautiful film.

    Suleiman Mountain, Elizaveta Stishova, Kyrgyzstan/Russia
    Without preamble, a young Kyrgyz boy is taken out an orphanage and into the lives of his supposed parents who make ends meet by running various cons on unsuspecting villagers. Director Stishova weaves mythological and even comedic elements into a beautifully filmed tale that centers around the titular mountain, a mysterious and holy place where the prophet Solomon is said to be buried and where the film's characters aim to find their destinies.

    Those Who Are Fine, Cyril Schäublin, Switzerland (nd/ND/NF 2018 review)
    Through striking framing, intense angles, fragmented scenes, and amusing conversations that at first seem to be unrelated, Those Who Are Fine weaves together stories of a young woman at a telemarketing company who takes advantage of the elderly by convincing them to give her large sums of cash. Director Cyril Schäublin's bold and precisely assembled debut astutely captures a world where every character is either on or using a device and surveillance is everywhere but fails to protect.

    Tigre, Ulises Porra Guardiola and Silvina Schnicer, Argentina
    In a boarded-up family estate situated in Argentina's mysterious and ancient Tigre delta, three generations gather to decide whether to sell their property to developers. As the family navigates their relationship to their home, their interpersonal conflicts lead to them to a unique and beautiful farewell.

    Winter Brothers, Hlynur Pálmason, Denmark/Iceland (ND/NF 2018 review)
    A powerful batch of moonshine made in the barracks of an industrial compound causes problems for Emil after his coworkers become ill. Already an outcast, resentment grows as he blunders everything that he tries to pursue—including the only woman in town. Set in an ashen-grey wilderness, where everything is covered in a clay-like dust, director Hlynur Pálmason's drama distinctly captures each character's bumbling rage with sly humor in this debut feature film.


    OLEG AFANASYEV in THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS

    2018 GOLDEN GATE AWARDS MCBAINE DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

    City of the Sun, Rati Oneli, Georgia/USA/Qatar/Netherlands
    The lives, dreams, and desires of three stalwart denizens of a desolate Georgian mining town provide the framework for this observational and gorgeously rendered film. With precise attention to landscape and architecture, director Rati O'Neli focuses on Archil, a miner with an operatic flair for theater, the workouts of twin sprinters, and Zurab, an impassioned man working to keep Georgian music and culture alive.

    The Distant Barking of Dogs, Simon Lereng Wilmont, Denmark/Sweden/Finland – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE Filmleaf review •Receives $10,000 cash prize
    In the midst of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, a loving, wise, and defiant grandmother raises her two young grandsons. Living under the omnipresent threat of war, the spirited boys, Oleg and Yarik, learn to adapt to their precarious situation and playfully wander through their neighborhood oblivious to the dangers around them. With a warm gaze toward his beguiling protagonists, director Simon Lereng Wilmot lends sensitivity and entrancing visuals—intimately framed close-ups and vibrant rural landscapes—to deliver a nuanced portrait of war and its corrosive effect.

    Hale County This Morning, This Evening, RaMell Ross, USA (ND/NF review)
    "I already had my troubles for today, so I can't worry about tomorrow," states Daniel, one of the protagonists in award-winning photographer RaMell Ross's inspired and intimate portrait of a place and its people. Set in an African-American community in rural Alabama where the director moves to coach basketball in 2009, the film captures small, but nevertheless precious, moments in Black lives—church services, a toddler running circles, an eclipse—with rapturous attention.

    The Judge, Erika Cohn, USA/Palestine •Receives $5,000 cash prize
    Judge Kholoud Al-Faqih became the first female appointed to any of the Middle East's Shari'a courts in 2009, challenging longstanding traditions and customs of women's roles in society. Constantly battling controversy over her position, Al-Faqih offers guidance, mentorship, and support both in and outside the courts. In this intimate portrait, director Erika Cohn captures the determined and compassionate judge as she strives to achieve justice in a system that so often does not favor women.

    Minding the Gap, Bing Liu, USA
    In Rockford, Illinois, Bing Liu has been filming his friends Zack and Kiere on and off their skateboards for ten years. Weaving archival footage, interviews, and incredible skate videos, Liu chronicles in simple and poetic fashion the lives of his inner circle of friends and family, revealing the damaging circumstances in which they all grew up. Less a film about skate culture and more an unusual and powerful coming-of-age story, Liu's feature documentary is fresh and powerful.

    The Next Guardian, Arun Bhattarai and Dorottya Zurbó, Hungary/Netherlands
    In the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, teenage siblings, Gyembo and Tashi share a passion for soccer, Facebook, and girls. Gyembo enjoys reading classmates Facebook posts while Tashi turns heads with her confident, boyish demeanor. As technology and social media become more accessible, these youthful amusements collide with the father's desire for Gyembo to inherit the family monastery. Co-directors Arun Bhattarai and Dorottyya Zurbó present a penetrating and compassionate portrait of globalization and fundamental change in a country immersed in tradition and culture.

    The Other Side of Everything, Mila Turajlić, Serbia/France/Qatar
    In 1945, filmmaker Mila Turajlić's (Cinema Komunisto, Festival 2011) family apartment was divided and redistributed by the state government. Her mother's political activism meant that they were spied on from the very rooms they used to own. Now her fascinating mother, Srbijanka, can talk about that "other side." A staunch public advocate and voice of resistance against Slobodan Milosevic for years, she discusses with her daughter their complicated personal and political histories, while reflecting on the divided past they share.

    The Rescue List, Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink, USA/Ghana – WORLD PREMIERE

    Lake Volta in Ghana is the largest man-made lake in the world; it is also notorious as a locale for forced child labor. Bay Area filmmakers Zachary Fink and Alyssa Fedele's beautifully shot documentary charts the courageous efforts of a local safe house to rescue the kids, give them schooling and therapy, and prepare them for reintegration into their families. Though it contains many intimate and moving moments with the children, the star of the film is real life hero Kwame, who initiates several dramatic rescues and is a former child slave himself.

    Shirkers, Sandi Tan, USA
    "When I was 18, I had so many ideas," reflects Sandi Tan in this buoyant personal documentary. 25 years ago, Tan and two cinephile friends made a film in Singapore, but the reels disappeared, along with a mysterious man named Georges Cardona who had been acting as the project's mentor. Recently, the footage was found, which prompts this constantly surprising and reflective film about movie love, female friendship, and the urge for creative expression.

    Tre Maison Dasan, Denali Tiller, USA – WORLD PREMIERE
    Tre, Maison, and Dasan are three boys who all share something in common—one of their parents is in jail. Following their separate lives through boyhood and weaving their stories together, first-time documentary filmmaker Denali Tiller tenderly observes each youngster's life, as the kids come to understand more about the world around them. Capturing loving, frustrating, and heart wrenching moments between parent and child, Tre Maison Dasan approaches the issue of mass-incarceration by exposing the effects of the criminal justice system on young men.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-16-2018 at 11:54 PM.

  3. #33
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    Golden Gate Awards announced.

    GOLDEN GATE NEW DIRECTORS AWARD (FICTION FEATURE)
    The New Directors award is given to a debut feature by an international filmmaker whose work exhibits unique artistic sensibility or vision. The New Directors jury included Programmer Dilcia Barrera, Producer and Editor-in-Chief of Filmmaker Magazine Scott Macaulay, and Producer Adele Romanski.

    SCARY MOTHER
    GGA New Directors Award winner: Scary Mother, Ana Urushadze (Georgia/Estonia)
    Receives $10,000 cash prize
    The jury awarded its Golden Gate prize to Ana Urushadze for Scary Mother “for its confident tone and unquestioning commitment to its fearless protagonist, a complicated artist caught between motherhood and the wilds of her own imagination.”

    MCBAINE DOCUMENTARY FEATURE AWARD
    For more than 60 years, a significant element of the SFFILM Festival has been its broad selection of acclaimed documentaries from across the globe. There are two awards in this category – Best Documentary and Best Bay Area Documentary. Films in the Bay Area Documentary Feature category are also eligible for the Best Documentary Feature award. This year’s Documentary Feature jury was comprised of filmmaker and journalist Carrie Lozano, journalist Noel Murray, and nonfiction filmmaker, visual artist, and writer AJ Schnack.

    CITY OF THE SUN
    Special Jury Mention, McBaine Documentary Feature: City of the Sun, Rati Oneli (Georgia/USA/Qatar/Netherlands)
    The jury granted this mention to Oneli’s film “for its stunning use of cinematography and sound design that immerses us in a place that is at once stark and stirring.”

    THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS
    McBaine Documentary Feature Award Winner: The Distant Barking of Dogs, Simon Lereng Wilmont (Denmark/Sweden/Finland)
    •Receives $10,000 cash prize
    The jury described the Feature Award winner as “Remarkable, exquisite and unforgettable.”

    THE JUDGE
    McBaine Bay Area Documentary Feature Award: The Judge, Erika Cohn (USA/Palestine)
    •Receives $5,000 cash prize
    The jury applauded The Judge for "turning a lens on a charismatic and influential woman who is fighting for equality against all odds, and for its nuanced portrayal of a culture that is often misunderstood."

    Links to the reviews. I have not had an opportunity to watch The Judge., or, among the nominees, Night Comes On or Shirkers.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-16-2018 at 11:54 PM.

  4. #34
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  5. #35
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    CITY OF THE SUN/ (Rati Oneli 2017)

    The filmmaker lived for years in New York. He went to the once important, now faded city of Chiatura, in Georgia (it once produced half the world's manganese), and reportedly has stayed back there. He worked with the excellent cinematographer Arseni Kachaturian to make this haunting and unusual film, focusing on a few people, a man who sells scrap metal and teaches music, a few miners, two girls training as Olympic runners who aren't getting enough to eat. He captures a unique mood and look of a cavernous ghost town, tearing itself apart and selling what's left, while a few linger and dance.

    Honorable mention in the Golden Gate awards.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-17-2018 at 12:11 AM.

  6. #36
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    THE NEXT GUARDIAN (Arun Bhattarai, Dorottya Zurbó 2017)

    Soccer-playing siblings, best mates, at a Buddhist temple-monastery in Bhutan, family-owned. They do not please their father much. She likes girls, as does he. To her disappointment, she washes out of soccer camp. He's supposed to train as a monk, and he's not enthusiastic. The filmmakers probably should have stayed around longer to see what was going to happen, but maybe they had other things to do.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-17-2018 at 12:12 AM.

  7. #37
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    THE RESCUE LIST (Alyssa Fedele, Zachary Fink 2017)

    Slavery, unfortunately, is widespread in the modern world, and this is an example of it. Boys are sold into slavery to fishermen in Ghana, on Lake Volta, a huge man-made lake and forced to live a miserable life for years and years. Some are rescued and hidden away and taught to read and write, then returned to their families, if it seems safe. A thousand have been rescued, but about 10,000 may be on the lake still. A simple film that is cheering and yet deeply saddening.


  8. #38
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    SULEIMAN MOUNTAIN/SULEIMAN TOO (Elizaveta Stishova 2017)

    A rarity, a feature made in Kyrgyzstan by an outsider, Russian Elizaveta Stishova. It's a road movie about a trio of con artists, a man and his two wives, one of whom "rescues" their son Uluk from an orphanage.


  9. #39
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    THE JUDGE (Erika Cohn 2017)

    A doc about the first female sharia court judge in Palestine. I could have used a little more specific information, but Kholoud Al-Fakih is a strong and engaging personality and the basic outlines are here. Limited theatrical release Fri. Apr. 13, 2018, wider coming. Rolling release throughout the country. https://www.thejudgefilm.com/screenings/


  10. #40
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    LOTS OF KIDS, A MONKEY AND A CASTLE/MUCHOS HIJOS, UN MONO Y UN CASTILLO (Gustavo Salmerón 2017)

    A quite hilarious home movie portrait of the actor Gustavo Salmerón's 's mother Juleta, who set those three goals for happiness and achieved them, and her chaotic late ife, entertaining simply because this real person and her family are fun to observe.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-18-2018 at 09:38 PM.

  11. #41
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    Festival closing.

    The SFIFF (April 4-17) has wrapped and reports they showed 242 screenings of 186 films from 45 countries, which were attended by some 300 filmmakers and industry guests. Over two weeks, the 2018 fest showed 59 narrative features, 38 documentary features, four New Visions features, two episodic programs, and a total of 83 short films.

    Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade and Sam Green’s A Thousand Thoughts Won Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary. $40,000 worth of awards were granted to winners.


  12. #42
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    GODARD, MON AMOUR (Michel Hazanavicius)

    See Armond White's comment on this film which he calls "appalling and entertaining." He says: "Even a bad film about Godard, as this one is, introduces people to his genius." And there is indeed that. Louis Garrel livens up his presence and I saw the trailer with a friend before re-watching Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really There and he said, "I want to see that."

    Armond White's National Review piece is just out because it's in theaters now, in NYC at Quad Cinema. In Landmark Cinemas shortly coming to San Francisco's Embarcadero Cinema.


  13. #43
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    CIVILIZATIONS: HOW DO WE LOOK? (BBC & PBS series)

    (Finally got to watch this.)

    A sample, the second hour-long episode of a nine-part series updating Kenneth Clark's famous 1969 one, "Civilization." Note the change from singular to plural. Likewise, the unifying voice of the single presenter has been replaced by three. Some new information, and new technology and a few important new archaeological findings, but Sir Kenneth's distinctive voice has not bee replaced with anything equally memorable. This starts out exactly sounding like a Fifties Encyclopedia Brittanica instructional film and never finds itself.


  14. #44
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    P.s. A full review of Godard Mon Amour is up now, since it is out in theaters.

    GODARD MON AMOUR (Michel Hazanavicius 2017)


    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-05-2018 at 01:30 AM.

  15. #45
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    WAJIB (Annemarie Jacir 2017)

    On the one-year anniversary of this film's Locarno debut, I'm posting my full review of this Palestinian film about a son who now lives in Italy who temporarily returns to his native Nazareth for his sister's wedding confronting the daily tensions and generational conflicts of life as a restricted people in a Jewish state. Mohammad and Saleh Bakri, the actors who play the father and son who travel around town in the old family Volvo hand-delivering the wedding invitations in the traditional way, are real-life father and son. No US release of this film seems to be in sight.


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