Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 San Francisco Independent Film Festival Lineup

In the past few days, the San Francisco Independent Film Festival (Indiefest) has posted their 2009 schedule. The festival runs February 5 to 19.

I noticed a few items off the bat. First, the opening night film is not at the Castro. It's at the Victoria Theater which seats about 1/3 the capacity as the Castro. I don't know if that implies that they expect smaller crowds for opening night or maybe they didn't want the expense of renting out the Castro. The opening night films are Somers Town and Fanboys.

The next thing I noticed is that Indiefest is screening two days at Sugarbowl. I'm not referring to the chain of local Chinese bakeries but the ski resort in Tahoe. For me, that is very incongruous. Indiefest is rooted in the Mission District with an occasional foray to Berkeley but a Tahoe ski resort? I wonder what their strategy is? I doubt that many people will travel that far for Indiefest and the people that are up there that weekend will be up there to ski and not watch movies. If they can pull it off, more power them. Maybe, festival founder Jeff Ross planned around a ski trip. Regardless, Hannibal Chew doesn't like the cold (in Blade Runner as well in Tahoe).

Like DocFest, Indiest is a full three weekends (not including Sugarbowl weekend). Docfest was 21 days whereas Indiefest is only 18. My impression was that Docfest was not well attended at the few screenings I went to in Berkeley and Indiefest is screening in Berkeley the last two or three days. I do notice, they dropped the Berkeley weeknight screenings.

Indiefest is having a launch party at 9 PM on Friday, January 23 at the Elbo Room.

The first thing I do when I see an Indiefest program is look at the Japanese films. Indiefest has a good track record of showing outstanding Japanese films. I filtered the films by country and it looks like Indiefest has a Japanese soft porn fetish this year. They have four films on two Saturdays with the subtitle "I Am Curious (Pink): The Second Wave of Japanese Sex Cinema | 1986-present." That makes me wonder about the First Wave. The films have titles such as S+M Hunter and New Tokyo Decadence: Slave. Despite being highly offended by porn, I'll have attend these support Indiefest being the sole reason. Actually, I seem to recall Pinku films being screened at the Asian American Film Festival a few years back.

The second thing I checked on the schedule were the Midnight screenings. The four midnight films are Home Movie, I Sell the Dead, Super Happy Fun Monkey Bash! and The Teeth of the Night. One measure of a midnight movie's worth is whether it screens elsewhere on the schedule (i.e. non-midnight times). Sadly, all four do screen elsewhere in the schedule. I will say that The Teeth of the Night appears to have potential although the copy ad may be the best part of film. Many a time, I have been led on by the festival guide synopsis to be bitterly disappointed by the actual film. A beautifully filmed ‘horror-zombie-comedy’ that’s sexy and French, gruesome and funny.

The final thing I checked was to see if there were any films directed by Greg Hatanaka on the line-up. I'm relieved to announce I didn't see any. Hatanaka perpetrated two of the worst films in Indiefest history - Until the Night and Mad Cowgirl. There has to be a conspiracy to explain how he gets his films screened at Indiefest. I will never watch another Hatanaka film; I rather schedule a dentist's appointment.

An IndiePass is selling for $200 so I guess in again this year.

23 days to Indiefest...


I've seen five films in the past week:

JCVD starring Jean-Claude Van Damme; (2008) - Official Website
Frost/Nixon directed by Ron Howard; (2008) - Official Website
Gran Torino starring and directed by Clint Eastwood; (2008) - Official Website
The Candy Snatcers; (1973)
Fallen Angels with Takeshi Kaneshiro; directed by Kar Wai Wong; Cantonese with subtitles; (1995)

I don't have the average cost spreadsheet with me; I'm averaging ~$6.50 per screening. $10 for The Candy Snatcers put me over my target cost.

It's been a good week. Of those five films, Frost/Nixon was the worst of the bunch and it was an above average film. For some reason, I can never get excited about a Ron Howard. He makes a lot of films that solid but nothing extraordinary - Apollo 13, Cinderella Man, Backdraft, etc. I have not seen A Beautiful Mind.

I didn't know Diane Sawyer worked for Nixon. I didn't know legendary Hollywood agent Swifty Lazar represented Nixon. Nor did I know he looked like the bald headed guy on the Six Flag commercials; even the glasses were the same. That could not have been a coincident.

I desperately need a Kar Wai Wong program at PFA to fill in my gaps in his filmography.

Mr. Six or Swifty Lazar

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