20th SF IndieFest, Week One

It's your chance to see the incredible shot-by-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark that some kids made in 1980s Mississippi.

While the annual SF IndieFest still “showcases the best in independent, alternative, and subversive cinema from around the globe,” it’s notable that they don’t describe it as the newest of the best. To celebrate reaching the 20-year mark — and well done on that! — they’re showing a film that played in the festival each year from 1999 through 2017 “to showcase the evolution of the festival and highlight the many talented filmmakers who got their start at SF IndieFest.”

Not all of those filmmakers got their start at IndieFest, of course; 2003’s Bubba Ho-Tep was director Don Coscarelli’s ninth feature film and 2010’s Kaboom was Gregg Araki’s eighth, but it’s still nice to have them back. (This writer sat behind Coscarelli and Bubba Ho-Tep star Bruce Campbell at the 2003 IndieFest screening, and you are jealous.)

One of the most interesting past features is Eric Zala’s Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, a shot-for-shot remake of the aforementioned Spielberg film by three Mississippi kids in the 1980s, which originally played in 2005 and which is the most heartwarming copyright violation you’ll ever see. Also highly recommended — though not playing in IndieFest — is the documentary about the making of the film, appropriately titled Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made. Whether the version of The Adaptation shown at IndieFest will include the airplane scene finally shot in 2014 as documented in Raiders! is unclear.

The opening night feature is Michael Berry’s musical Stuck, about a group of New Yorkers stuck in an immobile subway car who begin sharing their lives in song. This is not to be confused with the 2014 Napa Valley Film Festival favorite #Stuck, about two people who begin opening up to each other while stuck in a traffic jam. (The 2018 Stuck is a musical, and the 2014 #Stuck has a hashtag in front of the title.)

Highlights of new movies playing in the first week include Graham Skipper’s sci-fi/horror hybrid Sequence Break, in which a young arcade-game repairman in the present day sees his life get very strange indeed when a young woman and peculiar arcade cabinet each enter his shop. While IndieFest’s description of the picture as “Videodrome meets Altered States” sets a high bar for high-tech body horror, what’s more important is that Sequence Break clears the admittedly lower bar of being a story involving 1980s video games that isn’t as stupid as Ready Player One. Meanwhile, Brett Hanover’s Rukus is a documentary-fiction hybrid based on an unfinished collaboration with the furry artist of the same name — Rukus, not Brett — who passed away in 2008. The finished project uses multiple formats to fictionalize Rukus’ rough coming-of-age in Memphis at the turn of the century.

Among IndieFest’s homegrown events is the eighth-annual “Super Bowl: Men in Tights” party, just the title of which is never not funny because men don’t wear tights! See what they did there? Humiliation via implied blurring of strict gender lines, particularly the implication of femininity, equals Pure Komedy!

Opens Thursday at Roxie Theater, the Victoria Theater, and 518 Valencia.


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