In addition to the variety of alums opening at local Landmark Theatres, there are a few more SFIFF favorites poised to break up the Bay Area's notorious #JuneGloom via special presentations, Frameline Film Festival, and Netflix Streaming. Not to miss are two SFIFF award winners: Satyajit Ray's beloved The Apu Trilogy, recipient of the Akira Kurosawa Directing Award at SFIFF35, 1992; and Laura Bispuri's visually splendid Sworn Virgin, recipient of the New Director's Prize at SFIFF58, 2015. Keep watching this Summer of SFIFF!
The Apu Trilogy, directed by Satyajit Ray
Opens June 12 at Opera Cinema Plaza and Shattuck Cinemas
SFFS Programmer Rod Armstrong will give a special intro to the Sunday, June 14, 7:15 screening of Pather Panchali at Shattuck Cinemas
Two decades after its original negatives were burned in a fire, Satyajit Ray’s breathtaking milestone of world cinema rises from the ashes in a meticulously reconstructed new 4K restoration. The Apu Trilogy brought India into the golden age of international art-house film, following one indelible character, a free-spirited child in rural Bengal who matures into an adolescent urban student and finally a sensitive man of the world. These delicate masterworks—Pather PanchaIi (“Song of the Little Road”), Aparajito (“The Unvanquished”) and Apur Sansar (“The World of Apu”)—based on two books by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee, were shot over the course of five years, and each stands on its own as a tender, visually radiant journey unto itself.
The Wolfpack, directed by Crystal Moselle
Opens June 19 at Embarcadero Center Cinema and Shattuck Cinemas
This Sundance Documentary Grand Jury Prize winner intimately focuses on the charming and insightful Angulo brothers, who range in age from 16 to 24. Because the brothers have been kept isolated within their family’s apartment, only homeschooling, DVDs and fear of the outside world—epitomized by their bizarre reenactments of famous films—inform their reality. When one brother sneaks away from home and eventually convinces his siblings to join him, their shared truth is threatened with endlessly surprising results.
The Royal Road, directed by Jenni Olson
Screens at Frameline Film Festival Friday, June 19, 11:00 AM at Castro Theatre and Monday, June 22, 7:00 at Rialto Cinemas® Elmwood
San Francisco director Jenni Olson’s second feature-length film solidifies her standing as a major voice in the use of film as personal essay. Primarily composed of two elements—Olson’s self-revealing voiceover narration and long takes of beautifully composed urban landscapes shot on vibrant 16mm film—the film’s spare approach belies a sly and bountiful complexity as it burrows into the endlessly mineable terrains of history and memory.
Sworn Virgin, directed by Laura Bispuri
Screens at Frameline Film Festival Monday, June 22, 9:15 at Roxie Theater and Wednesday, June 24, 9:30 at Rialto Cinemas® Elmwood
A young Albanian woman, chafing against her culture’s strictures on female behavior makes the decision to follow the local tradition of living as a man and takes the name Mark. Years later, questioning her choice, she leaves her remote village to join her sister in Italy. Stunningly shot and acted, this moving debut film carefully and precisely delineates its protagonist’s determination to discover who she really is.
Advantageous, directed by Jennifer Phang
SFFS FilmHouse Resident & SFFS Women Filmmaker Fellow
Releases on Netflix Streaming June 23 and opens June 26 at Roxie Theater
Set in the near-future, Advantageous (winner of a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival) focuses on Gwen Koh, a single mother, whose aspirations for her daughter drive her to the precipice of a fraught decision. Including eerie and ingenious low-key special effects and a deliciously understated performance by Jacqueline Kim, this sci-fi film is rife with underlying tension and lyrical beauties that perfectly match the urban dystopian atmosphere of quiet desperation.
No Ideas But in Things: J.P. Sniadecki
Fieldwork Session at Headlands Center for the Arts, June 23
Filmmaker J.P. Sniadecki, director of The Iron Ministry, returns to the Bay Area as Headlands Center for the Arts' Artist in Residence. At a special Fieldwork Session, he will be lending a behind-the-scenes eye (and ear) into the poetic world of things, Sniadecki will show clips from films he’s made in China and the U.S., and will lead close-listening activities with soundscapes that accompany his intimate cinematography.
The New Girlfriend, directed by François Ozon
Screens at Frameline Film Festival Thursday, June 25, 9:15 at Landmark Theatres Piedmont
When a beautiful young woman dies, she leaves behind her husband, David, and best friend, Claire. The widower’s main coping mechanism—dressing in his wife’s clothes—becomes a way for the woman's two loved ones to explore their grief (and their own evolving notions of gender, friendship and romantic attraction) without drowning in sadness. With bold colors, remarkable acting prowess and an ingenious plot, Ozon’s delightful and liberatory new film is a concoction worth savoring.
54: The Director's Cut, directed by Mark Christopher
Screens at Frameline Film Festival Friday, June 26 9:00 at Castro Theatre
The restored Director’s Cut of 54 is being hailed as a lost, gritty masterpiece, featuring career-defining performances from both Mike Myers and Ryan Philippe. A rediscovered classic of unbridled excess and existential longing, its story of a Jersey boy sucked into a web of depravity is framed by sweaty abs, jeroboams of quaaludes and the pulsing beat of music’s most celebrated and reviled era.
What Happened Miss Simone?, directed by Liz Garbus
Releases on Netflix Streaming June 26
This documentary leaves audiences awestruck at the genius, tenacity and musical prowess of Nina Simone. A full biography filled with candid conversations, interviews, letters and performances, this film is the definitive take on Simone’s life. Paying special attention to her career-jeopardizing choices during the Civil Rights movement and her insistence on justice and unflinching when presenting her surprising weaknesses, What Happened, Miss Simone? is a fitting portrait of an inimitable and powerful artist.