See More SFIFF: October Highlights & SFFS-Supported Films at Mill Valley

This October, three of our favorite films from the 58th Festival will screen locally: Stanley Nelson's stirring documentary about the Black Panther Party; Douglas Tirola's hilarious account of the early days of the National Lampoon; and Michael Almereyda's creative and visually stunning portrait of Stanley Milgram.

THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION — opens October 2 at Opera Plaza, Shattuck & Piedmont
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution reveals how in a few short years, the Black Panther Party grew from a small group of young people in Oakland, CA, into a movement inspiring millions worldwide. Examining the history and notoriety of the Black Panthers, and featuring the perspectives of both its charismatic leaders and the rank-and-file, this is a definitive portrait of an iconic organization whose radical vision continues to fascinate us 50 years after its founding.

They were Harvard eggheads and willful eccentrics who singlehandedly changed the face of American humor forever. Douglas Tirola’s look at the rise and fall of The National Lampoon charts the moment when bad taste became big business and the barbarians at the gates became superstars

EXPERIMENTER — opens October 23 at Opera Plaza & Shattuck
This inventive and playful biography of scientist Stanley Milgram revisits his famous experiment, in which subjects were made to believe they were administering electric shocks to others in order to test why people will cede to authority, no matter how brutal the request. An examination of scientific ethics, the drama also explores the moral consequences of “just following orders.” Anchored by a riveting performance from Peter Sarsgaard as Milgram, iconoclastic genius Michael Almereyda (Hamlet) has delivered a timely and important film about the role of science in our society.

We're also thrilled to share that a number of films that we support through our various Filmmaker360 programs will roll on the big screen at the Mill Valley Film Festival! We're proud to have fiscally sponsored projects, an SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant winner and a documentary born out of our FilmHouse residency space in this year's lineup.

ALL EYES AND EARS — 8:15 October 11 at the Lark Theatre & 2:00 October 18 at the Sequoia
This timely documentary is a story of three people: Gracie Mei Huntsman, a teenager whose adoptive father’s job takes her back to the nation where she was abandoned to an orphanage at birth, the victim of China’s one-child policy and preference for boys; newly appointed US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr., who inherits the job at a time of rising tensions between the two countries; and Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer whose activism led to China putting him under house arrest and who now seeks US asylum. China itself becomes a fourth character, a world superpower engaged in a volatile relationship with its western counterpart, the United States. In her feature documentary debut, director Vanessa Hope’s foreign-policy and prior filmmaking experience in China comes into play as she gracefully weaves the disparate strands of her characters’ stories into an exciting and constantly changing saga of politics, ideology, identity, and high-stakes diplomacy. This is a FilmHouse alumni project.

CODE: DEBUGGNING THE GENDER GAP — 2:00 October 17 at the Throckmorton Theatre, 3:30 October 14 at Rafael 2 & 6:00 October 9 at the Sequoia
Big Tech needs to smash antiquated cultural stereotypes to recruit the best talent and transform an industry mired in a boys’ club mindset. Without a more diverse labor force, estimates are that one million engineering jobs will go unfilled by 2020. In her compelling and timely documentary, Robin Hauser Reynolds examines the history and current state of the technology industry and points the way toward a more equitable future. She focuses on the women and people of color within it who are working to increase their numbers in the sector and confronting the false truisms, educational obstacles, and rampant sexism that discourages so many from entering the field despite the wealth of job opportunities. Reynolds provides a platform for industry innovators to speak to complacency and inspire a revolution in startup culture and education that will allow many more people to succeed within the paradigm shift of the Information Age. This is a fiscally sponsored project.

DOGTOWN REDEMPTION — 1:45 October 10 at the Rafael 1 & 5:00 October 15 at the Lark Theatre
We’ve all woken up to the late-night clanking of bottles and cans while a stranger rummages through our recycling. Once we drift back to sleep, these mysterious men and women continue their long journey toward survival. Dogtown Redemption captures the fascinating faces and sturdy souls of Oakland recyclers, including a former punk rocker and a misplaced minister, who often cover over 10 miles of city streets as they haul hundreds of pounds of recyclables for a modest payout. By focusing on the dramatic personal plights of these hardworking individuals, the film also raises intriguing questions about the socioeconomic reality of West Oakland. For example, does a for-profit recycling center in the heart of a low-income area help or hurt the community? Are these recyclers empowered or exploited? Filmmakers Amir Soltani and Chihiro Wimbush combine intimate interviews and powerful all-access footage to craft an intensely honest, and sometimes hopeful, portrait of society’s forgotten people. This is a fiscally sponsored project.

MEDITERRANEA — 5:45 October 11 at Rafael 2 & 2:30 October 13 at Sequoia 1
A young man makes a perilous journey from Burkina Faso to Italy in Jonas Carpignano’s poignant and exquisitely crafted first feature. Refreshingly astute in his approach to character, the filmmaker weaves a fictional narrative based partly on the lived experiences of mesmerizing lead Koudous Seihon. The actor brings a heartfelt gravity to his character, Ayiva, whose hoped-for better life in the southwestern town of Rosarno gets off to a rocky start. Robbed by bandits in Algeria and rescued by the Coast Guard off the shores of Italy, Ayiva is given three months to miraculously procure a work contract in a country facing its own share of serious employment woes. Employing vérité style, Carpignano has an almost organic way of revealing the story that gives it reality and heart. In putting a deeply human and personal face on the hot-button issue of immigration, Mediterranea also announces Carpignano as a director to watch. This is an SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant winner.

A NEW COLOR: THE ART OF BEING EDYTHE BOONE — 2:00 October 10 at the Throckmorton Theatre & 11:45 October 16 at Rafael 2
Meet Edythe Boone, one of the seven women artists commissioned in 1994 to cover San Francisco’s historic Women’s Building with a massive, iconic mural entitled MaestraPeace. Now in her 70s, the African-American artist works to restore the mural to its original brilliant colors, reassuring a young woman terrified of mounting a scaffold for the first time. Back on the ground, she teaches public art to everyone from West Oakland middle schoolers to Richmond seniors. As Edy guides students in choosing mural subjects, using a grid, and mastering texture, they’re thrilled to be working with a veteran muralist whose art can be found all over the Bay Area and commemorates the great events of her time. Those events keep coming, as we see when the death of Edy’s nephew becomes a national symbol of racist policing. To all her students she says, “You can’t change your beginnings, but you can put a nice beautiful ending to the story.” This is a fiscally sponsored project.

ROBERT BLY: A THOUSAND YEARS OF JOY — 8:00 October 10 at the Throckmorton Theatre, 4:00 October 13 at Rafael 1 & 2:30 October 14 at the Sequoia
Poet Robert Bly stands out even among the celebrated, revolutionary generation of American artists who burst forth in the 1950s, and this loving documentary by Haydn Reiss (Rumi: Poet of the Heart, MVFF 1998) charts his singular path from second son to taciturn father on a wintry Minnesota farm to radical anti-Vietnam War activist to wild man of the 1990s men’s movement. The bespectacled, white-haired Bly is every inch the politically and spiritually engaged mystic, seeking each moment’s fervid heart as well as the eternal, intuitive bedrock beneath our cultivated ideologies and “personas.” He was one of the first to translate Pablo Neruda, Rumi, and the ecstatic Sufi poets, and his work with Joseph Campbell—exploring the metaphorical, psychological terrain of myth and ritual—led to the unexpected pop culture phenomenon of Iron John. A confounding whirling dervish, Bly’s life embodies the quest for personal honesty and shared truth. This is a fiscally sponsored project.

THE ROOTS OF 'ULU — 2:00 October 9 at the Throckmorton Theatre & 8:00 October 14 at Rafael 3
Take a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, where we are introduced to the mythological origins of ‘ulu, commonly known as breadfruit. After being replaced over the years by commercial crops like coffee and sugar, the 'ulu plant is now making a dramatic comeback, playing an important role in cultural preservation and food sustainability for Hawaii’s future. This is a fiscally sponsored project.

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