SF Doc Fest Starts June 1 with Live + Virtual Screenings

Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival Blog

SF Doc Fest Starts June 1 with Live + Virtual Screenings

The 21st San Francisco DocFest starts tomorrow, June 1, with films showing at the Roxie Theater and streaming online. The festival will run through June 12, with a roster of 36 features, 58 shorts and a number of filmmaker Q&As. This year’s DocFest will be presented as a hybrid of virtual screenings and live presentations. For the live component, thirty-six films are scheduled to screen at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. The virtual component is comprised of streaming films, all of which will be available for the duration of the festival.

The festival will kick-off with two opening night films: Eternal Spring (Jason Loftus, 2022) and Ricochet (Jeff Adachi and Chihiro Wimbush, 2022). Told through the eyes of comic book illustrator and Falun Gong practitioner Daxion, Eternal Spring reflects on the repression of Falun Gong practitioners in China before and after a 2002 attempt to hijack a state TV station. Ricochet examines the historic trial that followed a tragic 2015 incident at Pier 14 in San Francisco, in which a young woman named Kate Steinle was killed by the ricochet of a bullet accidentally fired by an undocumented immigrant, José Ines García Zaraté. The incident sparked a political and media firestorm, which left the defense battling legal prosecution, as well as warped public opinion based on growing xenophobia, racism and classism. Both opening night screenings include filmmaker Q&As, and other extras. 

The 12-day festival includes a number of films with SDFF connections. Filmed over the course of 20 years, Annie Berman’s fan-focused feature The Faithful: The King, The Pope, The Princess (SDFF2022) explores the deep veneration and legacies of the Pope (John Paul II), the Princess (Diana), and the King (Elvis). As the years pass, Berman finds her relationship to the film has become a constituent feature of her life and identity in a way that parallels the ways in which officially licensed tchotchkes define the fans in her doc. Berman’s doc is part of the festival and will be showing online

The Mission (2022), a film co-producedby Still I Rise Films/Mimi Chakarova (The Mirror, SDFF 2022), is part of the Bay Area Resilience-themed shorts block, which will screen at the Roxie on Saturday, June 4, and will also be available to stream online. The film focuses on longtime Mission activist Valerie Tulier-Laiwa who jumps into action to meet her neighborhood’s needs when COVID hits. While making the doc, Goupil was part of a group of women fellows funded and mentored by Chakarova. The shorts block includes a filmmaker Q&A with The Mission director Hélène Goupil.

Last but not least, Sentinels, a new documentary short co-directed by Derek Knowles (After The Fire, SDFF 2020) and Lawrence Lerew, takes an immersive, observational tack in its presentation of the Redwood Forest Defense tree-sit. The film bears witness to a radical form of protest that, unlike street protests, takes place largely outside of the public eye, and requires a great deal of both physical and mental strength. Sentinels is paired with the feature Clarissa’s Battle (Tamara Perkins, 2021) about activist/organizer Clarissa Doutherd. This program will be screened at the Roxie on June 4, and will also be offered virtually.

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