In its own words, the San Francisco International Film Festival “champions the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area.” It makes sense that its 2018 edition would open with A Kid Like Jake, a film directed by trans filmmaker Silas Howard that stars Claire Danes and Jim Parsons as parents dealing with a child who enjoys, according to its preschool, “gender-variant play.” Such a statement film sets the tone for a wildly diverse and entertaining roster of projects which include several movies hailing from Latin America.
Bringing the star power to the fest is Rodrigo Santoro who stars in Rodrigo and Sebastián Barriuso‘s Un traductor. The filmmaker pair have created a moody historical piece centered on a Russian teacher who gets recruited in Havana to serve as translator for children brought from Chernobyl for medical treatment. Mining this little-known bit of Cuban history and featuring a worthy performance from Santoro, this Sundance title isn’t afraid to stage complex conversations about what life was like in the island in 1989.
Never one to sit out a festival of this size, Argentina will be aptly represented by Tigre. Directed by Ulises Porra Guardiola and Silvina Schnicer, this atmospheric family film is set in the mysterious and ancient Tigre delta. In a world brimming with overgrown vegetation, flowing rivers, and a group of encroaching developers eager to snatch up this piece of land, three generations gather in their family home to decide what to do with the property and land alike. But with a group of local kids running amok Lord of the Flies-style and old rancors bubbling up, this will prove to be a family reunion like no other.
Mothers who suffer from (or are already dreading the feeling of) empty nest syndrome may want to check out Gustavo Pizzi‘s Loveling. Co-written by its star (The Second Mother‘s Karine Teles, Pizzi’s wife), this tender drama follows a Brazilian family as they prepare to send off their eldest son abroad where he’ll get to play in a German handball team. As Irene (Teles) tries to work towards her GED and keep the family afloat in light of the impending changes up ahead, Loveling traces with humor and warmth the kind of story many of our mothers surely experienced but we have so rarely seen captured on screen.
Oh, and art lovers should be sure to check out Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, which is an essential documentary on the breakout Brooklyn artist. Filmmaker Sara Driver chronicles the Haitian-Puerto Rican through interviews of close friends, lovers, and collaborators. Of course, in doing so she also presents a vibrant look at the changing city that his work captured and portrayed in equal measure.
Plus, there’s the powerful documentary about a mass deportation that took place 100 years ago Bisbee ’17, the Raul Castillo starrer We The Animals, and catch a group of Mexican students competing in the World Science Fair doc Inventing Tomorrow. Finally, don’t miss the free community screening from Bay Area natives Katie Galloway and Dawn Valadez of their documentary The Pushouts. The powerful doc chronicles the story of Victor Rios an ex-gang member who mentors at-risk youth of color.
San Francisco International Film Festival runs April 4 – 17, 2018.