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SF 2/4 – 2/18: 12TH Annual SF Independent Film Festival (IndieFest)

SF 2/4 - 2/18: 12TH Annual SF Independent Film Festival (IndieFest)



The 12th Annual San Francisco Independent Film Festival (IndieFest), featuring the finest in independent films and videos, unspools February 4-18 at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street in San Francisco. Tickets are $10 in advance, $11 at the door for each screening and $20 for Opening Night (including the after-party).  5-film vouchers are $45, 10-film vouchers are $85; $200 for FilmPass good for all films and parties.  For tickets or more information, telephone (415) 820-3907 or click onwww.sfindie.com.

Opening and Closing Night
IndieFest kicks off with WA DO DEM, co-presented by the SF Film Society and winner of the top jury prize at the LA Film Festival. Brooklyn hipster Max (Sean Bones) and girlfriend Willow (Norah Jones) have won a free Caribbean cruise.  But then Willow dumps Max, and with no friends willing to take a cruise (even ironically), he decides to go alone.  After docking in Jamaica, Max flees the tourist zone for more authentic environs, and in the process loses all of his clothes, possessions, and middle-class white privilege. Heading to the American Embassy in Kingston on foot, Max has extraordinary encounters, including a full-moon celebration with the reggae group the Congos, and a dreamy stay with a Rasta prophet (Carl Bradshaw, The Harder They Come).

After the screening the Festival celebrates its opening night party with the closing night of Winter MusicFest at DNA Lounge. Come dance the night away at the DNA Lounge as IndieFest welcomes to the stage Smash Up Derby, Kid Beyond, and Gooferman.  Doors open at 9:00pm and tickets for each music event is $10.

IndieFest comes to a close on February 18 with HARMONY AND ME, directed by Bob Byington. Harmony (a hilarious, wry Justin Rice) is a charmingly quirky slacker in the depths of a yearlong post-breakup funk that shows no signs of abating. The highlights of his days are “chance” run-ins with his ex. When one such excursion leads him to a nasty discovery, he decides it’s time to move on, but a disastrous date with his neighbor might not be the ticket. In what New York Magazine calls “a raucous, highly musical comedy,” director Robert Byington establishes himself as a unique, irreverent and highly entertaining voice in contemporary cinema.

IndieFest Celebrates the Local Scene
SF filmmaker and IndieFest veteran Tom Prankratz (WAYWARD, IndieFest ’05) presents us with his latest work with the World Premiere of LIMBO LOUNGE.  After a fatal accident, charming con man Silas encounters gridlock on the highway to Heaven and Hell and is forced to spend some time in Limbo. There, he meets an old flame who offers a fast track to the good life: working in the upper management of Hell. With devilish intentions, Silas discovers just how low he’ll go to get what he wants.

The powerful documentary CORNER STORE, director Katherine Bruens, will also have its World Premiere at this year’s IndieFest.  The film follows Palestinian Yousef Elhaj who moved to San Francisco ten years ago and opened a corner convenience store.  However, for Yousef, his store is also his home: he’s lived and worked there, alone, seven days a week, for in the hopes that he can bring his wife and children here from Palestine.  Will his hard work pay off?  Is such a trade even worth a decade of life?

The life and adventures of local artist and all-around eccentric Harrod Blank, creator of such interactive spectacles as the Camera Van and the Flash Suit is chronicled in OH MY GOD! IT’S HARROD BLANK!.  Using more than 20 years of footage, Berkeley filmmaker David Silberberg presents us with a loveable boy-man in all his oddball glory.

Set in San Francisco, MY MOVIE GIRL follows Adam, a romantically-challenged cinephile whose only romantic experience is one drunken night with his unrequited crush, Kate. That evening failed to live up to Adam’s expectations, so he casts himself and Kate in a movie recreation of their big night, hoping for a better ending.

Celebrating the filmmaking spirit of the Bay Area is the short film compilation, LIFE NORCAL-STYLE.  Ready for a miracle? Line up for a look in EL MILAGRO DE STOCKTON.  In DRUGS, a few San Franciscans attempt to explain why they just can’t say no.  Next, like a ski movie’s freaky California cousin, SECOND NATURE gives downhill skateboarding some experimental flavor. A SENTENCE APART looks at kids living in SF without their incarcerated parents.  And finally, we follow a few motivated would-be Americans to boot camp in NEW AMERICAN SOLDIER.

Sparkly Vampires are sooooo 2009
Mixing Shakesperian flair with bloodsucking creatures is ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD, directed by Jordan Galland. Julian (Jake Hoffman) scores his big break when he lands in the director’s seat of an off- Broadway version of Hamlet.  The author, Theo (John Ventimiglia), has an ulterior motive for his adaptation: he’s actually a master vampire who hopes to lure the real Hamlet (Kris Lemche) out of hiding so the two can end a centuries-old feud over Ophelia.  Meanwhile, Julian pines for his ex, Anna (Devon Aoki), who’s dating mobster Bobby Bianchi (Ralph Macchio). Through a crazy and campy turn of events Julian finds himself in the middle of a two thousand year old conspiracy that explains the connection between Shakespeare, the Holy Grail and some seriously sexy vampires. Now it’s up to Julian to recover the Grail in order to reverse the vampire’s curse…If only being undead wasn’t so much fun!

Premieres Abound
Always an exciting part of the Festival are films that have never seen screened before on our shores.  This year features three world premieres, three US premieres, and seven West Coast premieres.

On the World Premiere docket is CORNER STORE (mentioned above), ACCESS DENIED, and LIMBO LOUNGE (mentioned above).  ACCESS DENIED asks the question, “What would life be like without public access television?” Unfortunately many communities have had to find out the hard way. We’ve lost many wacked-out gems due to cancellation (or just the transient nature of public access programming), but thanks to obsessive collectors of pop culture ephemera, there’s a goldmine of lo-fi creativity to be found in the back catalogue of now-defunct public access stations. Fantastic Fest programmer and Twitch Film critic Rodney Perkins has put together an exclusive show for SF IndieFest that celebrates the weird and wonderful world of public access from San Francisco and beyond.

Having their US Premiere is LESS ADOLESCENT, ZOOEY & ADAM, BLOOD OF REBIRTH and AT THE FOOT OF A TREE.  Lee Galea’s thought-provoking, engaging and quirky drama LESS ADOLESCENT follows Emmanuel, a teenager, who after losing his mother finds himself trying to comprehend his world around him and the secrets that lie within it.  Set in Melbourne’s western suburbs, Emmanuel faces questions about life, death, friendship and the thing that makes us all who we are – our family. In ZOOEY & ADAM the eponymous couple have been unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for seven months.  But a relaxing trip in the country turns to mayhem as they are set upon by a band of drunken young men who beat them up and rape Zooey in front of Adam.  As the distraught couple attempt to recover, they discover Zooey is pregnant.  Unsure of the parentage of their child, they still decide to go through with the pregnancy.  But Adam-who is sure the child has been spawned by a rapist-is haunted, and eventually driven to extremes. Ricky Shane Reid’s AT THE FOOT OF A TREE is a fresh take on a suspenseful coming-of-age drama, in which an eleven-year-old boy takes brutal but heartfelt revenge for the beating of his father and then has to deal with the consequences that follow. Toyoda-san (of past IndieFest titles HANGING GARDEN, NINE SOULS, and BLUE SPRING) is back with another beautiful, mind-expanding film, THE BLOOD OF REBIRTH.  Set in a time when gods and demons ruled the Earth, our hero finds himself undead after helping a captive princess escape from their VD ridden Lord.  He takes the form of a Hungry Ghost and flees with the princess, but the Lord is hot on their heels, hell bent on finding and punishing his two escapees.

West Coast premieres consist of A PLUS D, BONECRUSHER, POINT TRAVERSE, BEYOND THE POLE, CITY ISLAND, EASIER WITH PRACTICE, and RENÉ.  A PLUS D, directed by Amber Sealey, follows Alice and Dan as they navigate the ups and downs of a relationship.  For them, falling in love was easy – it’s the rest they find so hard. POINT TRAVERSE tells the story of two childhood friends, Adwin and Cael, who have followed separate paths in life.  After a chance encounter with an ill-fated loner, the two friends embark on a journey of self-discovery.  Michael Fountain’s documentary BONECRUSHER follows Lucas Chaffin, a proud fourth-generation coal miner, trying to live up to the legend of his dad and what he believes is a family duty.  In true mocumentary style, BEYOND THE POLE follows the first-ever carbon-neutral, vegetarian, organic expedition to attempt the North Pole. The narrative film, CITY ISLAND follows the Rizzo family who live on a little-known island in the Bronx that is as quaint and sleepy as any New England town. But the Rizzos are not as picturesque as the island they inhabit. In EASIER WITH PRACTICE a disillusioned writer on a book tour, Davy (Brian Geraghty, THE HURT LOCKER) gets a mysterious phone call in his hotel room, igniting a long-distance phone sex relationship in sharp contrast to his awkward and unfulfilling real-life relationships. In RENÉ, veteran filmmaker Helena Trestikova follows 17-year-old René’s development from pimple-faced juvie to tattooed convict to published writer in this 20-year document of a life lived both inside and outside Czech prisons and politics.

Droves of Dramas, Comedies and, of course, Dramadies
This year’s Festival features numerous narrative highlights from around the world.

Using found footage acclaimed director Johan Grimonprez (dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y) casts Alfred Hitchcock as a paranoid history professor, unwittingly caught up in a double take on the cold war period in DOUBLE TAKE.  As television hijacks cinema, and Khrushchev debates Nixon, sexual politics quietly take off and Hitchcock himself blackmails housewives with brands they can’t refuse. Bestselling novelist Tom McCarthy writes a plot of personal paranoia to mirror the political intrigue in which Hitchcock and his elusive double increasingly obsess over the perfect murder of each other.

DOWN TERRACE is a darkly comedic drama from Britain that follows the daily travails of a dysfunctional family of crooks trying to keep their business from disintegrating; SECURE SPACE (Merkhav Mugan) takes place in Israel in 2006 during the second Lebanon war. The bride, the groom and their families prepare for the wedding ceremony during the Lebanese air raids on Haifa.  WEST OF PLUTO inhabits the world of suburban teens, who reveal their inner lives in small, nuanced moments. Shot in suburban Quebec, the teens start garage bands, give class presentations, fall in and out of love, throw parties that spiral out of control, and lose their virginity-quintessential experiences on the way to adulthood.  In GODSPEED, Charlie Shepard is a modern day faith healer in Alaska who’s family is brutally and mysteriously murdered.  When the unknown, radiant Sarah appears in town, her link to the killings grows stronger by the day, and Charlie is faced with dark possibilities that challenge his faith, grief and newfound solitude.

Movies About the Facts, Mostly
Always a popular program is IndieFest’s high quality underground documentaries.

Winner of the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival, NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT PERSIAN CATS follows musical duo Negar (Negar Shaghaghi) and Ashkan (Ashkan Koshanejad) after their release from prison.  They decide to start a band, and their search for musicians takes us on a tour of Tehran’s underground indie-rock scene.  Forbidden by the authorities to play in Iran, they plan to perform in Europe, but without money and passports it’s not so easy.

HIGH ON HOPE tells the story of the infamous “Hardcore Uproar” warehouse parties in Blackburn, Lancashire that started in 1989.  Local lads Tommy and Tony, together with two young sound engineers and a posse of willing helpers had a small party in an old workshop in Blackburn, Lancashire.  Pretty soon the press were calling it “Acid House,” and a powerful new youth counterculture had sprung up in the unlikeliest of places.

Don Argott’s fascinating documentary THE ART OF THE STEAL chronicles the long and dramatic struggle for control of the Barnes Foundation, a private collection of Post-Impressionist and early Modern art valued at more than $25 billion. LAST SON tells the incredible story of how Cleveland teens Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster devised Superman, the first comics superhero, and, second to a certain mouse, the most popular fictional character in the world.

Parties and celebrations abound!
IndieFest loves films, and they also love a good party! In addition to the Opening Night shindig, IndieFest has events going almost every night of the Festival, so you can party outta bounds.

Fest attendees can boogie their way to the Roller Disco Party on Feb. 6 at Cell Space. There will be rentable skates provided by Black Rock Roller Disco and the hippest of retro tunes spinning on the sound system as you travel back in time.  The party will be rockin’ from 8:00pm to 2:00am.  Admission is $10, $5 in costume and free with any IndieFest ticket stub or advance ticket receipt. 21 and over.

Now in it’s seventh year, the Big Lebowski Party takes a load off on Feb, 12 at CellSpace from 8:00pm to 2:00am. Fest-goers can dress as their favorite Lebowski character, enjoy white Russians, bowl in the Fest’s mini bowling alley, follow in Maud’s footsteps down the zip line, and watch this 1998 Coen Brothers’ film projected on the wall.  Admission is $10, $5 in costume and free with any IndieFest ticket stub or advance ticket receipt. 21 and over.

SF Indie Presents: Winter MusicFest!
IndieFest starts off on a musical note with the launch of the Winter Music Fest, happening January 29-February 4 and featuring 43 bands in 11 showcases over 7 days.  Opening night kicks off at 8:00pm at the Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th Street) with the musical menagerie of RyKarda ParAsol, Dave Smallen, The Trophy Fire, and the Action Design.  The excitement then expands to Thee Parkside (1600 17th Street) with San Francisco artist Bhi Bhiman, the eclectic Duckmandu, the soulful musings of Kuma/Koshka, and the aptly named Damn Handsome and the Birthday Suits to name but a few.

Thee Parkside will also host an all-ages show called The Next Generation Showcase on Saturday, January 30th at 1:00pm. With such stand-out artists as DFR, Fever Charm, Lou Lou and the Guitar Fish, Finish Ticket, and Emily’s Army, the event is sure to please even the grumpiest of family members.

A very brief and glorious history of IndieFest, in case you are wondering
In 1998 Jeff Ross realized there was no avenue available for his friend Rand Alexander to show his film CAGED, even though it had played the prestigious Slamdance Film Festival that same year. Jeff took to the streets and put on a four-day event financed, like many of the films presented, with his personal credit cards. The event was welcomed with an audience of over 3,000 people. The following year IndieFest grew to a nine-day event with over 4,200 in attendance. Over a decade later, IndieFest draws crowds of 11,000 and continues to support and celebrate maverick filmmakers and their work.

Information about 2010 SF IndieFest
The 12th Annual San Francisco Independent Film Festival (IndieFest), featuring the finest in independent films and videos, unspools February 4-18, 2010 at Bay Area theatres including the Roxie Cinemas, 3117 16th Street in San Francisco. Tickets are $10 in advance, $11 at the door for each screening and $20 for Opening Night (including the after-party).  5-film vouchers are $45, 10-film vouchers are $85; $200 for FilmPass good for all films and parties.  For tickets or more information, telephone (415) 820-3907 or click on www.sfindie.com.

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