The tenth annual San Francisco Independent Film Festival, aka IndieFest, offers a plethora of non-Hollywood features, documentaries, and shorts for two weeks. The Feb. 7 opening-night film, Jeff Nichols' Shotgun Stories, is an outstanding rural drama that opens as a low-key rustic comedy about three marginally employed Southerners. It gradually deepens as Nichols slowly reveals the dark family history of the three brothers and their escalating feud with their ne'er-do-well father's other family. As Nichols avoids melodrama in favor of character study, quirky humor, and appealingly filmed scenes of Southern life, Shotgun Stories builds up impressive suspense as the family relationships get ever more toxic.
Other promising films at IndieFest include Re-Animator and Edmond director Stuart Gordon's Stuck, based on the true story of a young woman who kept a derelict who crashed through her windshield alive in her garage rather than heading for the ER, as well as Ilya Chaiken's Liberty Kid, about two Brooklyn teens trying to get by in post9/11 New York. Later in the run, two films take us to new territories: Driving to Zigzig-land (about a cabbie's life) and Finding Kraftland, an odd vanity project about an L.A. talent agent's obsession with pop ephemera. This last is worth seeing if only for film composer Marc Shaiman's totally wack performance of "Holiday for Strings," complete with new lyrics praising said agent's obsession with getting him work.
Today's screenings start at 5 p.m. with A Big Story in a Small City at the Roxie New College Film Center, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $10; call 863-1087 or visit www.roxie.com.
Feb. 7-20, 2008