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, San Francisco’s is 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, Haiti, Chile, Argentina, México, Spain and Perú.
Llévate mis amores [All of Me]
(Arturo González Villaseñor, México, 2014, 90 mins)
This heartbreaking documentary tells the story of a group of women in a small town in Veracruz, Las Patronas, who help migrants as they cross Mexico on their way to the US. “We are the ones who feed our migrant brothers,” says one of them. Perched on trains that pass at high speed, young migrants reach out to grab plastic bags with rice and beans, sweet bread, bottled water and warm clothing that the women hand them. “It makes me very pleased, it’s really moving,” says one of the women. “But it makes me sad because also because they are going away leaving their families. But I’m glad they take a lunch, something for the road.” The film skillfully combines interviews with action shots. First time director Arturo González Villaseñor deserves credit for winning the interviewees’ trust, as they open up in front of the camera.
April 26, 1:15 p.m., Landmark’s Clay Theatre
April 28, 9:00 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
May 1, 6:30 p.m., Pacific Film Archive Theater
Dólares de arena [Sand Dollars]
(I. Cárdenas/L. A. Guzmán, Rep. Dominicana, 2014, 80 mins)
Co-directed by the Dominican Laura Amelia Guzmán and Mexican Israel Cárdenas, this filmmaking couple continue the exploration of the coexistence between locals and foreigners in the coastal town of Samana in the Dominican Republic that they started with Jean Gentil (2010). Sand Dollars tells the story of a loving relationship between a young Dominican girl and a foreign elderly woman in a simple and sensitive manner. After three years, the relationship has come to an impasse, as the young Dominican is tempted to leave the island with her lover but feels attached to her Dominican boyfriend. The film captures the interdependence of the idle life of rich foreigners in search of sensations and that of poverty and hardship that suffer the locals. Full of silences and sugary Caribbean melodies, the film has very contained performances that give it a slow and soft tone that matches a delicately lit and composed cinematography.
April 25, 1:45 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
April 27, 8:30 p.m., Landmark’s Clay Theatre
April 29, 2:00 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
El cordero (Juan Francisco Olea, Chile, 2014, 90 mins)
Domingo lives an insignificant life with his pious family until, one day, he kills someone in an unfortunate accident. Tormented by guilt, he starts a spiral of violence with the hopes to recover his calm existence. In the words of director Juan Francisco Olea, “‘El cordero’ talks about the human need to belong to a special group, to ‘blend in’ and be part of something and the fear of being marginalized, exposed.” The film portrays a conservative Chile reminiscent of Pablo Larraín’s Tony Manero, with gray tone and dry humor.
May 1, 2015 9:15 pm, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
May 3, 2015 8:30 p.m., Pacific Film Archive Theater
May 7, 2015 8:15 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Magical Girl (Carlos Vermut, España, 2014, 127 mins)
Enigmatic and very well produced, Magical Girl keeps the viewer in suspense for two hours. It is a mixture of thriller, noir and fantasy, echoing the dark side of Eyes Wide Shut. The narrative is occupied by a teacher who spent 10 years in jail because of a femme fatale who is married to a psychiatrist and an unemployed literature professor with a twelve year old daughter who is fascinated with the dress of a Japanese anime character. The motivations and reasoning of the characters that inhabit Magical Girl come alive at the end of the film, once their stories intertwine.
May 3, 9:00 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
May 5, 3:00 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
May 6, 9:15 p.m., Sundance Kabuki Cinema
The San Francisco International Film Festival runs through May 7, 2015. For tickets and showtimes visit festival.sffs.org