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Lots of locals in the Toronto Film Fest.

Wednesday, Sep 3 2008

A number of movies with ties to the Bay Area are playing at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (September 4-13), in search of distribution, publicity, or just delighting their audiences.

Local filmmaker Barry Jenkins' first feature, Medicine for Melancholy, follows an attractive young black couple who wake up after a one-night stand and explore issues of race and class while biking and cabbing around the streets of San Francisco. Beautifully shot in unusual desaturated colors, the film even credits the San Francisco cafes (Sugar Lump, Revolution, Ritual, and Atlas) where the script was written. SF Weekly contributor Michael Fox saw Medicine earlier this year at the San Francisco International Film Festival and raved about it. Fox interviewed Jenkins, who told him, "It's extremely important to me that whatever issues raised by the film aren't limited to African-Americans, but rather opened to all citizens of the city being economically squeezed in ways that have real psychological consequences. San Francisco is a melting pot losing many of its ingredients."

Sean Penn narrates Witch Hunt, a documentary by Bay Area residents Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, examining a notorious Bakersfield case of families being torn apart and ruined as children were coerced into falsely testifying about child molestation rings.

Robert Kenner's Food Inc. uncovers the industrial agriculture complex feeding the world today, featuring UC Berkeley professor and local hero Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, filmed at his home.

Pedro follows the saga of pioneer HIV-positive activist Pedro Zamora, who revealed his HIV status while appearing on The Real World: San Francisco in 1994. And the thriving local experimental scene is represented by young San Francisco filmmaker and San Francisco Art Institute graduate Vanessa O'Neill's Suspension and longtime Canyon Cinema stalwart Nathaniel Dorsky's Sarabande and Winter.

Yes, there will be lots to see. Be sure to catch updates of the Toronto Film Fest on SF Weekly's All Shook Down blog (

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Meredith Brody


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