California Independent Film Festival
Going strong since 1997, the California Independent Film Festival features not just indie films made in California, but mainstream and international pictures as well. Highlights include James Tooley's fan-funded documentary Starring Adam West about TV's original Batman, as well as the world premiere of Leslie Iwerks' Citizen Hearst, which looks at the past 125 years of William Randolph Hearst's media empire.
Sept. 11-14, The Castro Theatre, the New Rheem Theatre in Moraga, and the Orinda Theatre in Orinda, caiff.org
Legacy Film Festival on Aging
Now four years old, the Legacy Film Festival on Aging continues to entertain and educate audiences about what it means to age, and how to go about doing it in a way that doesn't make you feel, well, old. For example, Sue Bourne's documentary Fabulous Fashionistas looks at six women who aren't letting being 80 years old keep them from being fashion-forward.
Sept. 12-14, New People Cinema, legacyfilmfestivalonaging.org
Life Is an Opinion: Films by Mary Helena Clark and Karen Yasinksy
This surreal evening offers a selection of abstract films by Mary Helena Clark and Karen Yasinsky. Yasinsky's films such as The Lonely Life of Debby Adams and Life is an Opinion, Fire a Fact use puppetry, animation, and even hints of narrative to trigger feelings of discomfort and empathy, while Clark's works, like After Writing and The Dragon is the Frame, are permeated with mysterious associations and assembled with the logic of dreams.
Sept. 13, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, ybca.org/life-is-an-opinion
Not to be confused with Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring, in which the silence is very much a bad thing, this seasonal event from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival lasts only one day but still is plenty festive, with German Expressionism benchmark The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari, Buster Keaton classic The General, and a bunch of Laurel and Hardy shorts.
Sept. 20, Castro Theatre, silentfilm.org
Iranian Film Festival
Now in its seventh iteration, this annual showcase pledges to be a way for North American audiences to discover the next generation of Iranian filmmakers. But the current generation is worth knowing too; hence a tribute to Pouran Derakhshandeh, who'll be here in person with her new movie Hush! Girls Don't Scream.
Sept. 27-28, San Francisco Art Institute, iranianfilmfestival.org
Mill Valley Film Festival
You know it's out there when you have to take a bridge to get to it. But the true seekers of independent and world cinema who venture into the North Bay will have their inquisitiveness amply rewarded. One of the festival's many highlights include Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary, a Robert Redford-narrated documentary tribute to the art of turning life, and death, into an experiment.
Oct. 2-12, Rafael Film Center and other Marin County venues, mvff.com