More than 150 movies will be shown at the Sundance Kabuki, New People and Castro theaters in San Francisco and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley over the course of the next two weeks as part of this year’s edition of the San Francisco International Film Festival. Running through May 8, organizers expect 200 guests in town, among them filmmakers Neto Villalobos from Costa Rica, Lois Patiño from Galicia, Spain, and Mariana Rondón from Venezuela. Unique to this year’s festival is a spotlight on new voices in Latin American cinema. Here are our top picks of the Latino films playing the prestigious fest.
The Amazing Catfish
Claudia Sainte-Luce, México
With an effective blend of realism, drama and comedy, this first time 32-year-old director from Veracruz recalls Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda’s style and family-themed subjects. In Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, a young girl’s life is transformed when she meets a woman and her three daughters. The film shows great camerawork by Agnes Godard, usual of French director Claire Denis.
(May 3, 6:00 p.m., Sundance Kabuki • May 6, 9:00 p.m., Sundance Kabuki • May 8, 8:45 p.m., PFA)
Cesar’s Last Fast
Lorena Parlee, Richard Ray Perez, USA
An inspiring documentary focused on the 38-day hunger strike that Cesar Chavez, the president of the United Farm Workers, went on in the summer of 1988 in the San Joaquin Valley of California to draw attention to the harmful effects of pesticides. It contains a wealth of archival footage and interviews with Luis Valdez from Teatro Campesino, Dolores Huerta, and many others. Check out our interview with the director of Cesar’s Last Fast.
(April 26, 1:30 p.m., Sundance Kabuki • April 29, 6:45 p.m., Sundance Kabuki)
All About the Feathers
Neto Villalobos, Costa Rica
Picturesque and with funny dialogues, it tells the story of a security guard excited about a gamecock and a group of lovable characters that surround it. Simple and direct, it is the first film from Neto Villalobos who studied film in Barcelona, Spain. It’s exciting to see movies come out of Central America, where film production is scarce. The movie was supported by 273 people on IndieGogo.
(April 25, 6:30 p.m., PFA • April 27, 8:45 p.m., Sundance Kabuki • April 29, 6:15 p.m., Sundance Kabuki)
Coast of Death
Lois Patiño, Spain
The experimental feature debut of this director from Galicia is in the running for the Golden Gate Award for Best Documentary. It is a poetic ode to the Galician coast in northwestern Spain in which a fly-on-the wall camera observes the magical land of ‘meigas’ (witches) where fog and drizzle prevail. The filmmaker interviews fishermen, lumberjacks and the elderly. It starts as a breeze and fades like breath.
(May 2, 7:00 p.m., Sundance Kabuki • May 3, 9:15 p.m., Sundance Kabuki • May 5, 6:30 p.m., PFA)
Bad Hair (Pelo Malo)
Mariana Rondón, Venezuela/Perú
Junior wants to have his hair straight and be a singer. He is 10 years old and lives with his mother and baby brother in a large apartment building in a crowded, poor neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela. Excellent performances portray vivid characters that convey intense emotions between mother and child, with a wealth of nuances and a strong social backdrop. It is the third film by Mariana Rondón who studied film in France and Cuba.
(May 1, 9:15 p.m., Sundance Kabuki • May 4, 6:15 p.m., New People • May 7, 6:30 p.m., PFA)
The 57th San Francisco International Film Festival runs from April 24-May 8. For more info visit sffs.org