If the fifth annual Cinema by the Bay showcase of locally significant films is any indication, this Bay Area of ours is a fertile crossroads indeed. Local moviemakers seem keen on stories about lives colliding, with sparks flying. Holy Ghost People, the opening night film, throws together an attractive pair of lost souls to penetrate a cult of snake-handlers. Along the Roadside finds a Mr. Stability type bailing on his pregnant girlfriend and embarking with a manic pixie Euro-tourist dream girl on a road trip to L.A. In Redemption Trail, set among Sonoma vineyards, a woman desperate with grief finds herself taken in by the adult daughter of a Black Panther who was killed by cops. The documentary American Vagabond follows gay runaway street kids to the promised land of San Francisco, “the city at the end of the rainbow,” where hopes abruptly cross paths with hard realities. Even the mild-mannered young mailman in Dear Sidewalk finds his route and his routine disrupted by an alluring older gal. In addition to these and other features, the festival also includes 10 diverse shorts from the hallowed cinema department at SF State — like Pump, a bicycle-intensive collage from 2006 which Super8.org ranked the sixth greatest Super 8 film of all time — and a Sunday induction ceremony for the newest members of “Essential SF,” the Film Society's hall of fame of sorts for local cinematic talent. Of which there's a lot. Expect more collisions, more sparks.
Nov. 22-24, 2013