Just Gimme Some Truth

Remember the educational films you were shown in school? They celebrated great causes and great men (with the occasional great woman). No reason to waste time, money, and celluloid on ordinary people. Hell, where’s the inspiration in that, even if it’s regular folks who deserve most of the credit for every social movement you can name? But with today’s cheap camcorders and laptop editing software, the tools of production are available to everyone — and anyone is a potential subject for a film. The San Francisco Documentary Festival, better known as DocFest, has embraced the new reality for more than a decade, culling the sexiest, druggiest, and rockingest portraits of oddball subcultures from the deluge of nonfiction produced around the globe. Between reality TV and YouTube, you may think you’ve seen it all. But DocFest is here to show and tell you different. Today’s prime-time buzz is about Dirty Pictures, a head-on profile of octogenarian Dr. Sasha Shulgin, the Berkeley-born chemist known for spreading the gospel of ecstasy and the benefits of psychedelics. Here’s a (moving) portrait of a great man, indeed.
Oct. 14-27, 2011

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