As I write this, two weeks have passed since this year’s DocFest lineup was officially announced, and in another two weeks – June 6th, to be exact – San Francisco’s 12th annual film festival of all things non-fiction will begin.
By now, I’m sure most of the die hard cinephiles, as well as those who have just been craving some quality cinematic portraits of truth, have already copped their printed schedule and have marked it up accordingly. After doing some schedule dissecting of my own, I have whittled down this year’s 43 programs to eight noteworthy docs. Hopefully, come closing night (June 23rd), my predictions as to what was worth seeing will have proven to be accurate. Now, in alphabetical order, here are they are.
Elena (Dir. Petra Costa)
Fernando Meirelles, director of City of God had this to say about Elena, a story about a woman in search of her sister in The Big Apple, “A rare cinematic experience. A film that provokes 60 insights per minute.” Now, I’m no professional mathematician, but according to my calculations that’s a new insight every damn second! I’ll be happy with a new insight every 30 minutes or so, just as long as I’m able to get lost in the poetical narrative that this film looks like it might be offering.
Showtimes: Fri. 6/7 – 9:00pm (Balboa Theatre)
Sun. 6/9 – 7:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
Mon. 6/10 – 9:00pm Roxie Theatre)
Fuck for Forest (Dir. Michal Marczak)
This movie’s tagline is “Have sex. Save the world.” Well, I’m all for having sex, and if I can save the world while doing it, then count me in. My hope is that after seeing this I would have either attained the most justifiable reason to transform my bedroom into a bona fide sex cave, or at the very least I would have seen an interesting documentary on some horny-minded activists. Here’s hoping for the former.
Showtimes: Sun. 6/9 – 9:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
Thur. 6/13 – 7:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
Fri. 6/14 – 9:00pm (New Parkway – Oakland)
Life with Alex (Dir. Emily Wick)
Aside from The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2003) and Winged Migration (2001) every film I have ever seen about birds has been total shit. Too bad, because birds are beautiful creatures, and as far as I’m concerned, they deserve more cinematic love. Man, do I miss my boyhood pet bird, Sage. Anyway, I digress. Not sure if this documentary’s focus will be centered on the extraordinary intellect of Alex, one remarkable parrot who supposedly can freely converse in the English language, or if this will be more about the relationship between Alex and his colleague/friend, Dr. Pepperberg. Whichever way it decides to go, I just want it to be good, and I want a pet bird again. RIP Sage.
Showtimes: Sat. 6/8 – 9:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
Mon. 6/10 – 7:00pm (Aquarius Theatre – Palo Alto)
Wed. 6/12 – 7:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear (Dir. Tinatin Gurchiani)
I haven’t seen a lot of spectacular films from Georgia (the country, not the state) in a while, come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve seen any films from Georgia. Well, it’s never too late to start, right? So I figure why not start with not only a Sundance Film Festival winner, but something with interesting subject matter as well. And I have to admit, a movie where the director documents the results of her open casting call to young Georgians to follow them in order to find commonalities across social and ethnic lines certainly sounds interesting.
Showtimes: Tuesday, 5/28 – 9:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
The Mayor (Dir. Jared Scheib)
Yes, I am anxious to watch a character study documentary about an 88-year-old tail chaser. Who isn’t?
Showtimes: Fri. 6/7 – 5:00pm (Balboa Theatre)
Sat. 6/8 – 5:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
Sat. 6/22 – 3:00pm (Rio Theatre)
The Summit (Dir. Nick Ryan)
What’s better than a good mystery movie? A mystery movie in the form of a documentary, of course. In 2008, 18 mountain climbers reached the summit of K2. 2 days later, 11 were found dead. Why and how could something so tragic happen? I have purposely avoided seeing any trailers for this movie yet, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Abominable Snowman did it.
Showtimes: Sat. 6/15 – 9:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
Fri. 6/21 – 7:00pm (Rio Theatre)
Trains of Thoughts (Dir. Timo Novotny)
Of all the selections, this is by far my most highly anticipated pick. Almost always a sucker for drawn-out visual essays of specified locations – Leviathan anybody? – I can’t wait to feed my soul with the supposed juicy visual and audial aesthetics being promised in Timo Novotny‘s metro-demic train ride through several different countries’ underground rails. I’m not expecting any form of conventional narrative here, I’m just going to go along for the trip, and hopefully be blown away in the process.
Showtimes: Sat. 6/8 – 5:00pm (Balboa Theatre)
Sat. 6/15 – 5:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
Wed. 6/19 – 9:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
William and the Windmill (Dir. Ben Nabors)
I was looking for at least one potentially great underdog story in this year’s line-up. Something that would possibly pull at my heartstrings a bit, cause hey, who doesn’t like having their heartstrings pulled every now and then? I’m hoping this story of one man’s invention that catapulted him from poverty to riches is just that story.
Showtimes: Mon. 6/10 – 5:00pm (Aquarius)
Fri. 6/14 – 9:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
Thur. 6/20 – 9:00pm (Roxie Theatre)
Click here (SF DocFest’s official website) to check out the entire film guide, as well as all the different DocFest parties and events. Ticket and venue info can be found there too. See ya at DocFest!