SDFF NEWS BITS: ALUMNI UPDATES, FEST + DOC INDUSTRY HAPPENINGS
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OCTOBER 20, 2021
LOCAL DOCUMENTARY NEWS
Invisible: Gay Women In Southern Music (T.J. Parsell, 2021), a new doc exploring queer female singer/songwriters who have successfully navigated the male-dominated landscape of Southern music will be screened at Rialto Cinemas® Sebastopol on Friday evening. Rialto® is pairing with OUTwatch for the screening, which focuses on the lives of women who have written songs for country legends like Johnny Cashjy, Barbara Mandrell, Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire and Tim Mc Graw. The film features appearances by Linda Rondstadt Emmylou Harris, Pam Tillis, Rodney Crowell, Gretchen Peters, Jessie Scott and Judy Dlugacz as well as by An Illustrated History of Women In Country Music authors Roark Smith, Robert Oermann and Mary Bufwak. Invisible: Gay Women In Southern Music will be shown at the Rialto Cinemas® Sebastopol on October 29 at 7:05 p.m., tickets are available here.
SDFF Declare Your Independents host Peter Coyote is the narrator of the new doc 3 Seconds in October: The Shooting of Andy Lopez (Ron Rogers, 2021), which will air on PBS from 10/22-10/27. The film details the fatal shooting of local 13 year-old Andy Lopez by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus in 2013. The 28-minute documentary focuses on Lopez’s death, but contextualizes it as part of the ongoing nationwide debate about law enforcement accountability and transparency following fatal incidents involving people of color. The case has continued to foment anger, at least in part, because details of its handling have remained obscure while law enforcement scandals in the county have been ongoing. Since Lopez’s death 32 other people have died during or after interactions with Sonoma County law enforcement and the county has paid out $10 million in civil lawsuits tied to law enforcement’s excessive use of force. 3 Seconds in October will air on KRCB on Friday, 10/22 at 10:30 p.m., Sun. Oct. 24 at 11 p.m. and Weds., Oct. 27 at 10 p.m. KRCB’s content is also available via live stream.
The Napa Valley Film Festival has released its film lineup for its 2021 streaming festival, which will run from Nov. 10-14, 2021. Their selection includes 12 feature-length docs and 3 programs of documentary shorts. Streaming passes for the festival and for shorts programs only are available here.
Pilobolus, the inventive modern dance company at the heart of the 2002 Mirra Banks doc Last Dance and Jeffrey Ruogg’s Still Moving: Pilobolus at Forty (2012) will perform in Berkeley tomorrow and Friday (10/21-10/22) at Zellerbach Hall. The transformational modern dance troupe combines contortionist feats, circus arts, fantastical décor and costumes in celebration and mimicry of the natural (and unnatural) world. Banks award-winning doc captured Pilobolus’s contentious collaboration with author Maurice Sendak on A Selection, a work about a Nazi fake “work camp” in Terezín. and Bank’s recent No Fear No Favorwas an SDFF 2021 selection, for which she also gave an exclusive interview. Still Moving: Pilobolus at Forty is another festival selection from 2013 that focused on the company’s lifecycle in the wake of one of its founder’s death.
ALUMNI AWARDS + FESTIVAL APPEARANCES
Last Meal (Marcus McKenzie and Daniel Principe, 2020) won the award for Best Documentary Short at the Oscar® qualifying BendFilm festival in Oregon. The film, an SDFF 2021 selection, examines the last meals of death-row inmates, from the opulent to the simple. One of the BendFilm jurors this year was Michael Scheuerman, producer of SDFF 2021 selection Hunger Ward (Skye Fitzgerald, 2021).
Taste Of Cement (Ziad Kalthoum, 2017), will be streamed online (11/1-11/7) and screened live (10/31) as part of the UK’s Margate Film Festival. This visually stunning SDFF 2019 selection is a portrait of workers in exile, bound to construction sites by overnight curfews. The film documents Syrian workers building new skyscrapers in Beirut on the ruins caused by the Lebanese civil war, as their own houses are being bombed in Syria. While there doesn’t appear to be any geographic restrictions on tickets, we’d encourage anyone outside the UK to double-check before purchasing.
Snowy filmmakers Kaitlyn Schwalje & Alex Wolf Lewis recently appeared on the Film Ireland Podcast to celebrate the Still Voices Short Film Festival, which will run Nov. 4-7. Snowy is an SDFF 2021 Official Selection about the quality of life experienced by a pet turtle living in a family basement since its child owners left home.
Crip Camp co-director Nicole Newnham will be the featured guest at a virtual Q&A and discussion for the Bronx Documentary Center’s 7th Annual Women’s Film Series on Friday, Oct. 22. The free Q&A and discussion will be moderated by Nolan Ryan Trowe, and can by clicking “Join The Virtual Discussion” here. The film can be accessed via Netflix with a subscription or via youtube for free co complement this event.
NEW RELEASES FROM SDFF FILMMAKERS
Producer Anita Gou’s new doc Found (Amanda Lipitz, 2021), was released on Netflix today (Oct. 20). The film follows three adopted American teens who discover they are related over 23andMe, and embark on a journey together to explore their Chinese roots. Gou produced SDFF 2018 selection The Last Animals (Kate Brooks, 2017).
Dick Johnson Is Dead (Kirstin Johnson, 2020) will be released as a Criterion Collection DVD, along with a selection of other Netflix original movies, including Beasts of No Nation, Roma, Rolling Thunder Review(Martin Scorsese’s doc about Bob Dylan), The Irishman and Marriage Story. Although Netflix started out as a DVD service, they’ve never released any of their original productions on disc. SDFF alumni Nels Bangerter (Out In The Silence, SDFF 2009, Kuma Hina, SDFF 2016) collaborated with director Kristin Johnson on Dick Johnson Is Dead.
IN OTHER NEWS…
Unfortunately for the teams that worked on Found and Dick Johnson Is Dead, their good news came the same week that LGBTQIA+ and allied workers are organizing a walkout at Netflix, with activists staging a protest in front of the company’s corporate offices. These protests were triggered by Netflix management’s alleged dismissiveness toward concerns and objections voiced by trans employees about its new Dave Chapelle special The Closer. The special has been widely criticized by LGBTQIA+ folks for its anti-trans sentiments. However, Netflix’s response to the criticism has drawn at least as much ire and even more public criticism, some of it from the company’s own talent. Corporate leaders have so far doubled down in their support of the special, making the baffling argument that the content is commentary not harm and is also very popular with subscribers. The company also fired a trans worker who tweeted critically about the special though the company claims the dismissal was over a completely different issue.
In related news, Julia Scotti made this list of 11 Trans Comedians to Watch if You’re Tired of Dave Chappelle. Scotti was also featured, along with Julia Scotti: Funny That Way director Susan Sandler in a recent Blade article, and a related podcast interview with Rated LGBT Radio. Julia Scotti: Funny That Way is a portrait of transgender comedian Julia Scotti, which explores the courage and humor it takes to be Julia.
In much happier LGBTQIA/doc story, SDFF multi-fest alumni Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu is one of six filmmakers featured in Season 3 of Reel Wahine of Hawaii. The six-episode series depicts the lives of pioneers in the Hawaiian film industry, all of whom share a passion for documenting historical moments to insure they’re remembered. Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu’s collaborations with Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer Leitis In Waiting and Kapaemahu have been SDFF favorites!
SDFF FILMS + FILMMAKERS STREAMING
Filmmaker Anna Snowball’s 2019 short doc about Dutch sex ed, Spring Fever, is now available to stream for free via Aeon, a nonprofit tasked with creating an online sanctuary for serious thinking that promotes critical thought and a cosmopolitan worldview. Spring Fever follows a group of pre-teens during a week in March in which Dutch students learn about sex, love and relationships in a shame-free environment. The expansive sex ed model has been credited with some of the world’s best outcomes for teen sexual health. Snowball produced SDFF 2021’s A Horse Has More Blood Than A Human (Abolfazl Talooni, 2019) about an elderly Iranian couples’ dreams of a quiet retirement hat are shattered by hidden developments in their hometown.
Coastal Mountains Land Trust and Midcoast Conservancy will host the virtual Wild & Scenic Film Festivalfrom Sunday, Nov. 14-Friday, Nov. 19 The online event will feature eight short documentaries by independent filmmakers. The festival is put on by California’s South Yuba River Citizens League and presents stories about individuals from around the world stepping up to protect the environment and to create healthy, resilient communities. Click here for tickets/registration.
If you weren’t able to catch My Favorite War (Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen, 2020) at SDFF 2021, check it out at the Calvert Journal Film Festival online. My Favorite War is an animated memoir of a Soviet childhood and an antiwar film that emphasizes the importance of an individual’s right to freedom in a democratic society. The streaming festival is envisioned as a journey across Central Europe and runs Oct. 18-31. The film is also an official selection of the Manchester festival, which runs Nov. 14-19.
Eight of filmmaker Lynne Sachs’ films will be streaming on Criterion Channel this October, including The Washing Society (2018 w/ Lizzie Oleskerd), which showed at SDFF 2018. Criterion’s October lineup will also include her films E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo (2021), Maya At 24 (2021), Girl Is Presence (2020 w/Anne Lesley), Film About A Father Who (2018), The Last Happy Day (2009), Which Way Is East (1994) and Wind In Our Hair (2010).
SDFF 2021 selection Fish & Men (Darby Duffin and Adam Jones, 2019) was released via DVD and VOD by Virgil Films, and is also available to stream via a number of services (Netflix, Amazon, Apple Vimeo, etc.). The film explores the high cost of cheap fish in the modern seafood economy, and the forces threatening local fishing communities as well as the public health. The film and filmmakers were also featured in a new profile on wickedlocal.com this week.
Gilda Shepperd’s Since I Been Down, will stream from Nov. 21-28 by UC Santa Cruz’s Visualizing Abolitionproject, and will be accompanied by an interview between Sheppard and author adrienne maree brown on 11/26. Shepperd’s doc approaches intersecting criminal justice and carceral issues by focusing on victims of the 1980s drug war who continue to languish behind bars. Visualizing Abolition is a group of graduate students and faculty aiming to expand discourse on mass incarceration and policing through art, and just received an almost $2 million grant. Registration is required. Since I Been Down will also show at Nashville’s 12th Annual Black Film Festival, which was recently reschedule for Dec. 2-5 and will be a hybrid streaming and in-person fest.
If you missed The Worlds of Urusla K. Le Guin (Arwen Curry, 2018) at SDFF 2019 or at Best of the Fest, look for it on PBS’s American Masters, where it will be streaming for free through Oct. 31.The film has been made available through a partnership with All Arts’ Ballerina Book Club, which selected Ursula K. Le Guin’s masterpiece The Left Hand of Darkness as their October book of the month.
Filmmaker Adam Mazo’s new film Bounty will premiere via streaming through the Maine Historical Society and the Portland Press Herald on Nov. 11. The doc is follows citizens of the Penobscot Nation who bring their families to Boston to read their ancestors’ death warrants, which were part of a 1755 colonial government proclamation that paid settlers to murder the tribespeople. Mazo’s project with Ben Pnder-Cudlip, Dawnland, was an Emmy® award winning film and SDFF 2019 official selection. Pre-registrationis required for this online screening.
Knocking Down The Fences (Meg Shutzer, 2019) will be streaming as part of Lunafest this year, alongside Maria Finitzo’s Until She Is Free, which imagines a culturally “cliterate” world. Knocking Down The Fences showed at SDFF 2020, and is about AJ Andrews, the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove, and her struggle to make it as one of the best professional softball players in the world. Finitzo’s film The Dilemma of Desire was an SDFF 2021 selection. Lunafest is a traveling film festival by, for, and about women that began in 2001, and has been streaming for the past 2 years since COVID hit. You can find streaming dates on their website.
Radu Sava, whose 2019 A California Original about the California Grey Pine played at SDFF 2019 has recently released another film about the California wilderness Not If But When: Wildfire Solutions (Radu Sava and Rebekah Hood-Sava, 2020), which is now available to rent or buy on Amazon streaming. This 40-minute doc delves into the world of wildfire solutions examining their pros and cons, their successes and challenges. The film includes expert interviews, drone footage, historical data and maps.
The Israeli Film Archive in Jerusalem just launched a digital version of its collection, making around 250 films—from Israeli and Palestinian directors (1928-present)—available online. The vast majority of these films can be streamed for free from the archive’s website; a select few are pay-to-rent. Netflix is also making a n collection of Palestinian films available as part of its “Palestinian Stories,” collection. Netflix’s selection includes 27-32 films (depending on where you’re streaming), including a handful of noteworthy docs: Mahdi Fleifel’s 3 Logical Exits, Xenos and A World Not Ours; and Raed Andoni’s Ghost Hunting.
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