If there’s anything regular readers of SF Weekly’s film section know, it’s the burning shame that comes from wasting precious time they’ll never get back — but they also know we’re lucky that so many documentaries regularly play in town. In its 17th year, SF DocFest returns to the Roxie, the Brava, and the New People Cinema to provide what it describes as “a manageable amount of the truth.” Heaven knows that amount changes from person to person, but there’s something in this year’s stellar DocFest lineup for every tolerance level.
The best documentary movies are always about movies themselves — shut up, yes they are — and Joe Tropea’s Sickies Making Films is a great one which looks at censorship throughout the decades. Michael Vale and Donna McRae’s Cobby: The Other Side of Cute is the best film Jeff Krulik never made, as the search for the simian star of an obscure 1960s kids’ show addresses the wider issue of what happens to animals after the nonconsensual time in the spotlight is over. And speaking of fading lights, David McMurry’s Atomic City visits Arco, Idaho — population 995 — which was the first city lit by atomic power. It was just for an hour overnight in 1955, but it’s defined their identity ever since.
Opens Thursday at the Roxie, the Brava, and the New People Cinema.