The longest-running film festival in the Americas is here. Running through May 7, the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival will showcase more than 100 narrative, documentary, and short films. In the words of Rachel Rosen, director of programming, SF houses a festival dedicated to its eclectic audiences, “We program with the goal of bringing what’s the best out in the world,” said Rosen. “And we want to represent the people who live in San Francisco.”
The festival, organized by the San Francisco Film Society, will host dozens of guests, including actor Richard Gere; Douglas Trumbull, responsible for the special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner; Guillermo del Toro, who will receive an award for his career and present his film The Devil’s Backbone (2001); and filmmakers Martin Rejtman from Argentina; Arturo González Villaseñor from México; Eryk Rocha from Brazil; and Juan Francisco Olea from Chile among many others.
Representing the Americas this year are movies from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Chile, Haiti, Argentina, México, Spain and Perú.
Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, Argentina, 2014, 101 mins)
Lisandro Alonso is of one of the most original and daring filmmakers currently working in Latin America. His films are characterized by long takes, slow development, minimal script, little dialogue and almost no musical score. In the line of Carlos Reygadas Silent Light and Albert Serra’s Quixotic/Honor Cavalleria, and with echoes of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring – Jauja is a journey, as in many of his movies, for both the viewer and the main character who embark on an external and internal quest to achieve meaning. Shot in the Patagonia, the film is composed of meticulously framed shots that capture a breathtaking landscape. The format of the image is very unusual, completely square. The result is magical and sublime.
April 24, 8:30 p.m., Landmark’s Clay Theatre
April 26, 3:45 p.m., Pacific Film Archive Theater
April 28, 3:00 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Que horas ela volta? (Anna Muylaert, Brazil, 2015, 110 mins)
Regina Casé is impressive in the role of a live-in maid, Val, who works for a wealthy family in São Paulo. The arrival of Val’s daughter, whom she has not seen for years, creates a revolution in the household. She calls the boss Barbara, instead of Mrs. Barbara, while both the husband and son fall in love with her. “You’re born knowing what you can and cannot do,” Val reprimands her daughter. She confronts her by putting into question her servitude. The film brings up issues of class and generational gap. Great script, great direction of actors, and great ending by director Anna Muylaert who has worked as a screenwriter as well as a film critic and reporter.
April 26, 3:30 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
May 1, 6:15 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Dos disparos [Two Shots Fired]
(Martín Rejtman, Argentina, 2014, 105 mins)
It had been over ten years since director Martín Rejtman — Rapado (1992), Silvia Prieto (1999), Los Guantes Mágicos (2003) — made a fiction film. Dispassionate and laconic in style, bordering on the humorous, and with a similar aesthetic to that of Mexican Fernando Eimbcke, Two Shots Fired relies on frontal shots and a cool color palette. It was filmed in Buenos Aires and Miramar, as it follows an ensemble of characters who talk a lot, come and go in their lives without a clear goal. A naturalistic, existentialist slice of life reminiscent of French auteur Eric Rohmer, with plenty of action and precise editing.
April 28, 8:40 p.m., Pacific Film Archive Theater
April 29, 6:30 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
April 30, 1:00 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
NN (Héctor Gálvez, Perú, 2014, 94 mins)
Dark and cold, NN (no name) follows the tortuous work of a group of forensic investigators who exhume human remains of the disappeared during the bloody years of repression in Peru in the 80s and 90s. The film focuses on the emotional repercussions that both the investigators and the families go through in finding and identifying the bodies. It is a sad reality that countries like El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, Dominican Republic, and Guatemala have also suffered at the hands of dictators. Gálvez fictionalizes the facts with a lot of emotion, shows them in chiaroscuro, and says it with whispers broken by tears. The film was written by Gálvez, who collaborated with the Commission of Human Rights of Peru (COMISEDH) and The Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IDEHPUCP).
April 30, 6:30 p.m., Pacific Film Archive Theater
May 2, 8:30 p.m., Landmark’s Clay Theatre
May 3, 1:15 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
H. (Daniel García/Rania Attieh, U.S.A., 2014, 93 mins)
Paranormal phenomena are the base of the narrative that ventures into the fantasy and experimental genres. A woman who carries a doll down the street believing it is a baby, another woman who grows a belly and who oozes milk but is not pregnant, an otherworldly black horse that appears and disappears… are all strange, creepy events that unfold after an astronomical event in the cold and snowy landscape of upstate New York.
April 24, 9:45 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
April 26, 1:15 p.m., Pacific Film Archive Theater
April 28, 6:45 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
The San Francisco International Film Festival runs through May 7, 2015. For tickets and showtimes visit festival.sffs.org
(Iñaki Fdez. de Retana, originally published by remezcla.com)