Fall Arts 2016: Film Festivals

California Independent Film Festival
Sept. 8-14
Castro Theatre, New Rheem Theatre in Moraga, and Orinda Theatre in Orinda

Turning 19 this year, the California Independent Film Festival features not just the Golden State-native indie flicks you might infer from its name, but also mainstream and international movies. Among the latter are Frank D’Angelo’s The Red Maple Leaf from Canada — imagine that! — featuring one of the final performances from the late, great, and gruff Robert Loggia.

Legacy Film Festival on Aging
Sept. 16-18
New People Cinema

In its second year at New People and sixth year overall — they grow up so fast, don’t they? — the Legacy Film Festival on Aging continues to show the best in features and short films about making the best of our inevitable cellular decay. Highlights include Bryn Evans’ documentary Hip Hop-eration, about a group of bed-headed senior citizens training for the World Hip-Hop Dance Championship in Las Vegas.

Art House Theater Day
Sept. 24
Alamo Drafthouse New Mission

A one-day festival in which dozens of art house theaters across the nation will be showing restorations of Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm and Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits. It goes to show how much the concept of the “art-house film” has changed from when it used to mean challenging foreign films — Phantasm made $12 million on a $300,000 budget, and Time Bandits was 1981’s 10th-highest grossing film, earning $35 million on a $5 million budget. But then again, the movies at Midnites for Maniacs are seldom “dismissed, underrated, and forgotten” as its tagline suggests, so our local culture is pretty forgiving about such things.

Anna Magnani, A Film Series
Sept. 24
Castro Theatre

Speaking of challenging foreign films, a mile and a half away on that same day the Castro Theatre will be hosting a retrospective of the great Italian actress’s work, including a 4k restoration of Roberto Rossellini’s 1945 neo-realist classic Rome, Open City, shot amid the rubble of the title city less than a year after the Nazis were forced out.

Samuel Fuller: A Fuller Life
Sept. 23-25
Roxie Theatre

Meanwhile, over the course of that weekend, the Roxie will celebrate an all-American director whose collective oeuvre probably still didn’t gross as much as Time Bandits: Samuel motherfucking Fuller. Selections from that oeuvre include acknowledged classics from the 1950s and ’60s, like Shock Corridor, The Naked Kiss, and Pick Up on South Street, as well as oddities such as 1972’s made-for-German-TV Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street and one of his few color pictures, 1981’s deeply troubling White Dog.

Mill Valley Film Festival
Oct. 6-16
Assorted points north of the Golden Gate Bridge

It’s all the way on the other side of a body of water — one that doesn’t even have a tunnel going underneath! — and thus violates most San Franciscans’ ethical standards, and the lineup was not available at the time of this writing, but historically, the Mill Valley Film Festival has offered early glimpses at movies that will be generating Oscar buzz a few months later. And a few that will be snubbed, like Beasts of No Nation last year.

United Nations Association Film Festival
Oct. 20-30
San Francisco, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and Stanford University

Turning 19 this year, the United Nations Association Film Festival spotlights documentaries from around the world on a variety of depressing but vital topics. This year’s theme is “Compass for a Better World,” and highlights include legendary documentarian Barbara Kopple’s seldom-seen 1999 A Conversation with Gregory Peck, and Katie Couric’s 2016 Under the Gun, about America’s stubborn refusal to do a goddamn thing about our epidemic of gun violence.

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