Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jason previews upcoming events--Jews, Arabs, Docs, and Dead Channels

Hmmmm...must be fall in the bay area. Let's see what's happening soon, in no particular order.

First up, the second annual Dead Channels Film Festival. Fresh off winning a Best of the Bay award (best On-Screen Mind Warp) from the SF Bay Guardian, they're back with their solid week of fantastic film. The schedule isn't up yet, but I have an abundance of faith that it'll be great. They're hosting a kick-off party at the Vortex Room (7th and Howard) Sept 20, where they'll unveil the schedule. Should be a good night (and conveniently, the one Saturday night this month when the Quakes aren't playing at home).

Next up is Docfest, Oct. 17-Nov. 6, put on by the team that does Indiefest. Their schedule isn't officially up yet, but I got a sneak peak at it. First impression--it's huge. Spanning three weeks (2 in SF at the Roxie, one in Berkeley at the Shattuck) and about 50 different film programs (not counting all the shorts), I believe it's actually bigger than Indiefest this year. If I've done my math right, in order to see everything I'd have to go to shows both in SF and in Berkeley, and I'd have to go to shows either on my birthday (Halloween) or on election day (and possibly both). Some highlights I'd point out. They're giving Melody Gilbert a "Someone to Watch" award, and showcasing her past favorites--"Whole", "A Life Without Pain", "Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness"(which I saw at Cinequest last year)--as well as a couple new ones--"Disconnected" and "Married at the Mall". They're also showing "Dear Zachary", possibly the best and definitely the most heart-wrenching documentary from Cinequest this year (which reminds me, I meant to write a letter to the Canadian Minister of Justice , and never did that). There's one about Bigfoot, that sounds fun. And there's one called "Bunnyland" which made me smile until I realized, of course, it was about dead bunnies (or at least in part about a mystery involving 70+ dead bunnies). And they're showing "Anvil! The Story of Anvil!" which I missed at Jewfest.

Which reminds me, The Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival (previously the San Jose Jewish Film Festival, but to me always "Jewfest South") starts up again, from Oct. 26 to Nov. 19. Like years before, it plays Wednesdays and Sundays at the Camera 12, but this year they're also adding Thursday nights at the Cubberly Theater in Palo Alto. Actually, I haven't really looked closely at this schedule yet (they're schedule is up already), so I can't tell you what the "must see" films are, but they usually have a pretty good schedule.

And, while I'm promoting Jewish film, in the interest of bridging differences, the Arab Film Festival runs from Oct 16-28 in San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose, and Los Angeles (LA is a development that started last year). Their film list is up, but no descriptions or schedule yet, so I can't tell you what to look for. And, as you can see, I'll be pretty busy with other film events around the same time, so I can't guarantee that I'll have the time or energy to attend this. However, in the past I've had a pretty good time at this festival. And I feel that by supporting both the Arab and the Jewish film festivals, I'm doing my part to foster Mideast peace in the Bay Area. Seriously, to my knowledge since I started attending this festival a couple of years ago (when it was called Cinemayaat), there have been no incidents of Mideast violence in the Bay Area--it's all been in the Middle East.

One thing, in the past there has been at least one weekend when both the Arab Film Festival and South Jewfest have been playing at the Camera 12. However, they've never played on the same day--Arabs on Saturday, Jews on Sunday. That always disappointed me (but in my optimism, I pretended it had nothing to do with competition or ethnic tensions--maybe it was just that the Camera 12 didn't want to rent out two screens at the same time when they could play general release movies instead). I thought it would be really cool to plan a day when I could attend both festivals, jumping back and forth between them, and either inspiring or confusing the heck out of everyone. Anyway, this year it looks like South Jewfest won't come to the Camera 12 until after the Arab Film Festival has left (if they repeat the schedule from last, the end of the Arab Film Fest is in Los Angeles). So once again, I can't do it.

Wow, and with all that stuff going on, I almost forgot that thing they do up in Mill Valley. Yeah, that's a big festival, put on by the California Film Institute. I don't have a lot of interest in going up there to see films that will play everywhere the next week (or day, sometimes). But I have been there before and had a great time finding some lesser known films. I haven't made it back in a couple of years, and this year my only chance would be the final weekend. We'll see if I can make it.

And that's (some) of what's coming up. At least, it's what I'm keeping my eye on.
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