Alejandro Jodorowsky, Hong Sang-soo, Amat Escalante, the Dardenne brothers, Brillante Mendoza, Peter Bratt, Cristi Puiu, Natalia Almada, James Ivory, Eleanor Coppola, George Lucas, Albert Serra, Ramona Diaz, Matías Piñeiro…
The longest-running film festival in the Americas bets on what’s safe to celebrate its 60th birthday. Renowned directors’ films, treasured by their success in other festivals, and with secured distribution.
Faithful to its devote audience and membership, the annual festival organized by the SF Film Society continues an international programming of marked European heritage, led by France and the United Kingdom, and independent American cinema with special attention to the Bay Area.
But this 60th anniversary also has a memorable representation of Latino cinema that we recount below.
Hyperbolic and brilliant, Poesía sin fín [Endless Poetry] is the awaited new film by admired Chilean cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky [El topo (1970), La montaña sagrada (1973), Santa sangre (1989)], starred by his son and the Zen master himself. An autobiographical film that is an overwhelming delight for the senses.
Among the heavyweights of cinema du auteur, the chilling La región salvaje [Untamed] by Mexican filmmaker Amat Escalante stands out powerfully. Very different from what he had done before in Sangre (2005), Los bastardos (2008) and Heli (2013), Escalante’s fourth feature delves into the realm science fiction in the style of Andrei Tarkovski.
Intimate and full of vitality, Hermia & Helena is Argentine Matías Piñeiro’s fourth installment inspired by the work of William Shakespeare after Rosalinda (2011), the marvelous Viola (2012) and La princesa de Francia (2014), as he continues to work with a naturalistic style. The film revolves around an Argentine girl who travels to New York in a fellowship to translate “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Somber and observant La mort de Louis XIV [The Death of Louis XIV] by Catalonian director Albert Serra [Quixotic/Honor de Cavelleria (2006), Història de la meva mort (2013)] is a masterpiece of his usual extravaganza, as his camera silently accompanies the Sun King, who reigned for 72 years in France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, by his deathbed.
The also Catalonian high-brow filmmaker Isaki Lacuesta [Los condenados (2009), Los pasos dobles (2011)] presents his more accessible, very well acted new film La propera pell [Next Skin], a human story set in a small town in the Pyrenees, co-directed with Isa Campo, screenwriter in his previous films.
From Portugal, the symbolic and humorous O Ornitólogo [The Ornithologist] by João Pedro Rodrigues [O Fantasma (2000), Morrer Como Um Homem (2009)], a festival favorite about an ornithologist who embarks on a bizarre physical and metaphysical trip in the northeast of the country.
From Argentina, El invierno [The Winter], Emiliano Torres’ first feature about the relationship between a sheep herder and his helper in Patagonia, and El futuro perfecto [The Future Perfect] by German director Nele Wohlatz, about a Chinese girl in Buenos Aires who wants to learn Spanish despite opposition from his parents.
From Chile, Vida de familia [Family Life] by Alicia Scherson [Il Futuro (2013)] and Cristián Jiménez [Bonsái (2012)], an adaptation of a short story by Alejandro Zambra about a man who takes over the house he is looking after while the owners are on vacation.
And from the U.S., the experimental production El Mar La Mar by interdisciplinary artist Joshua Bonnetta and anthropologist J.P. Sniadecki, exquisitely filmed in the Sonoran desert in Mexico, with enveloping soundtrack and images.
Locally, it is worth highlighting the screening of the documentary Dolores, directed by San Francisco native Peter Bratt, who returns to the Castro Theater eight years after premiering La Mission with a story about the co-founder of the United Farm Workers in California.
Part of the Golden Gate Award Competition will be Todo lo demás [Everything Else], an intimate portrait of a frustrated bureaucrat, by Mexican filmmaker Natalia Almada, her first narrative film after having made three solid documentaries Al otro lado (2005), El general (2009) and the stunning El velador (2011); and the inventive and sagacious El auge del humano [The Human Surge], Argentinean Eduardo Williams’ first feature film, divided in three parts that happen in Argentina, Mozambique and the Philippines, as he brilliantly dilutes the planes of reality.
Two documentaries to compete for the $10,000 Golden Gate Awards are Donkeyote by the Spanish director Chico Pereira, about a quixotic character, a dreamer who wanders with a donkey and a dog on the countryside in southern Spain; and Brimstone & Glory by German filmmaker Viktor Jakovleski, filmed at the National Pyrotechnic Fair in Tultepec, State of Mexico, with GoPro cameras, abstract images and a remarkable musical score.
For two weeks, the festival will host countless guests from all over the world who will accompany audiences in the presentation of their films, among them Alicia Scherson, Eduardo Williams, Natalia Almada, Chico Pereira, Nele Wohlatz, Peter Bratt and Dolores Huerta.
Two new screening venues, SFMOMA and Dolby Cinema, as well as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ greater role hosting screenings and the festival’s box office, are new in this 60th edition. Castro, Roxie, Victoria and New Mission theaters will show films as in previous years, as well as the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. Ticket prices are $15.
For more detailed information, visit sffilm.org/festival
Todo lo demás [Everything Else] (Natalia Almada, México/USA/Francia, 98 mins)
April 6, 6:00 p.m., SFMOMA
April 7, 3:30 p.m., Roxie Theater
April 14, 3:00 p.m., Roxie Theater
La mort de Louis XIV [The Death of Louis XIV] (Albert Serra, Francia/España/Portugal, 115 mins)
April 6, 8:30 p.m., BAMPFA
April 8, 8:30 p.m., YBCA Screening Room
April 12, 1:30 p.m., YBCA Screening Room
El Mar La Mar (Joshua Bonnetta y J.P. Sniadecki, USA, 94 mins)
April 6, 8:45 p.m., SFMOMA
April 12, 6:30 p.m., YBCA Screening Room
April 16, 8:15 p.m., BAMPFA
La propera pell [Next Skin] (Isaki Lacuesta, Isa Campo, España/Suiza, 103 mins)
April 7, 3:00 p.m., YBCA Screening Room
April 12, 8:30 p.m., Roxie Theater
April 13, 3:30 p.m., Roxie Theater
Dolores (Peter Bratt, USA, 98 mins)
April 9, 7:00 p.m., Castro Theatre
Poesía sin fin [Endless Poetry] (Alejandro Jodorowsky, Francia/Japón/Chile, 128 mins)
April 10, 8:30 p.m., Roxie Theater
April 19, 8:30 p.m., Roxie Theater
Hermia & Helena (Matías Piñeiro, USA/Argentina, 86 mins)
April 11, 6:15 p.m., Roxie Theater
April 13, 8:45 p.m., BAMPFA
April 18, 3:30 p.m., Victoria Theatre
Brimstone & Glory (Viktor Jakovleski, USA, 67 mins)
April 12, 5:00 p.m., Castro Theatre
April 14, 9:30 p.m., SFMOMA
Vida de familia [Family Life] (Alicia Scherson y Cristián Jiménez, Chile, 80 mins)
April 12, 8:45 p.m., BAMPFA
April 13, 6:00 p.m., Roxie Theater
April 15, 1:15 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse New Mission
El futuro perfecto [The Future Perfect] (Nele Wohlatz, Argentina, 65 mins)
April 12, 6:30 p.m., Roxie Theater
April 14, 8:45 p.m., BAMPFA
April 19, 4:00 p.m.,Victoria Theatre
El auge del humano [The Human Surge] (Eduardo Williams, Argentina/Brasil/Portugal, 97 mins)
April 14, 6:00 p.m., Roxie Theater
April 15, 8:30 p.m., YBCA Screening Room
El invierno [The Winter] (Emiliano Torres, Argentina/Francia, 93 mins)
April 14, 8:30 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse New Mission
April 15, 6:30 p.m., BAMPFA
O Ornitólogo [The Ornithologist] (João Pedro Rodrigues, Portugal/Francia/Brasil, 118 mins)
April 15, 8:30 p.m., BAMPFA
April 16, 5:00 p.m., SFMOMA
Donkeyote (Chico Pereira, Alemania/España/Reino Unido, 86 mins)
April 15, 5:30 p.m., SFMOMA
April 16, 6:00 p.m., BAMPFA
April 19, 4:00 p.m., Roxie Theater
La región salvaje [The Untamed] (Amat Escalante, México/Dinamarca/Francia/Alemania/Noriega/Suiza, 100 mins)
April 16, 8:00 p.m., Roxie Theater
April 19, 6:00 p.m., Victoria Theatre