Jeff Ross, the founder of the SF IndieFest, likes parties. A lot.
So along with the shorts, features and international films at part of the festival from Feb. 11-25, there will also be opening and closing night parties (at the Dance Mission and Brand New Vortex Room, respectively); the 12th Annual Big Lebowski Party where it will get The Rocky Horror Picture Show treatment, with people acting out the scenes on stage; the Anti-Valentine’s Day '80s Power Ballad Sing-A-Long; and a pre-fest kick off, Men in Tights, where comedians sit on the front of the stage during the screening of a past Super Bowl and pretend to be sports commentators. Ross describes this as a good event for a couple where one person is a sports lover and the other less so. He has one caution though.
“There’s no comedy during the commercials,” he said. “The commercials are sacrosanct.”
[jump] Ross says he can hardly believe the festival, which started in 1998 as a four-day event, when a friend of his couldn’t find a place to show his movie, Caged, is now in its 18th year, has five programmers, and has expanded to two weeks. This year, along with the Roxie Theater and the Brava Theater, films will also screen at the Mission’s new Alamo Drafthouse.
This year’s opening night movie is Frank and Cindy, a feature film made out of director G.J. Echternkampʼs documentary about his relationship with mother Cindy (Rene Russo), who was a groupie to his step-father, Frank (Oliver Platt), when Frank was part of an 80s band, OXO. For the closing night, there’s Too Late, shot on 35mm, and starring John Hawkes as a private eye. The centerpiece film is Ma about a modern vision of Mother Maryʼs pilgrimage in the American Southwest, ending up in Las Vegas.
The festival has partnered with Noise Pop this year to present music documentaries. As particular stand outs, Ross mentions Hustlers Convention, which includes interviews with George Clinton, Fab 5 Freddy, and Ice-T; Who is Billy Bones? about the lead singer of the L.A. punk rock band The Skulls; and Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai ( Rain the Color of Blue with a Little Red In It.)
“It’s a retelling of Purple Rain,” Ross said. “It’s shot in the Sahara in Niger, and they have no word for purple. The music is awesome.”
SF IndieFest, Feb. 11–Feb. 25, At various venues. $12-$25, sfindie.com