Saturday, April 26, 2014

Santa Cruz Del Islote (2014)

A scene from Luke Lorentzen's SANTA CRUZ DEL ISLOTE, playing at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 24 - May 8, 2014Courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society. 
WHO: Luke Lorentzen is the Stanford-based filmmaker who directed this, and many other familiar Frisco Bay filmmaking names (consulting producer Jamie Meltzer, sound mixer Dan Olmstead, etc.) are found in the credits.

WHAT: I haven't seen any of the San Francisco International Film Festival's documentary features yet, but I'd be very surprised if many of them are more able to probe an otherwise-invisible corner of the globe with more artistic and documentary integirty than Santa Cruz Del Islote, a 20-minute short about the most densely-populated island in the world. Even Manhattan and Hong Kong have more open space per capita than this 1200-person, 2.4-acre speck off the coast of Columbia, made up of wall-to-wall fisherman's shacks. Eschewing talking heads and infographics for a visually sumptuous approach (every shot is simply gorgeous), Lorentzen allows the island's residents to provide a sparse narration to contextualize what we're seeing and hearing, but for the most part this is not a verbal but a sensory experience of what life is like in the built-up little town and out in the fishing boats. For the residents of Santa Cruz Del Islote, the sky above and the Caribbean around them is their only wilderness, and Lorentzen often frames the horizon low to emphasize the vastness of the island's blue surroundings.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens on a program beginning tonight at 7PM and on Sunday, May 4th at 3:45., both at the Kabuki Theatre.

WHY: Santa Cruz Del Islote screens on the (numerically, not chronologically) first of the San Francisco International Film Festival's seven shorts programs (though one might call this Tuesday's Castro Theatre program an unofficial eighth). This program is nominally half-documentary and half-narrative, but there's definitely some bleedover. There's a documentary element to Jim Granato's comedic narrative Angels, for example, and though up for a documentary award, John Haptas, Kris Samuelson, and Seiwert's Barn Dance is really a performance staged for the camera. Throw in Bill Morrison's archival-footage-based Re:Awakenings, and it makes for a very diverse and surprising program, as SFIFF shorts programs so often are.

HOW: Digital

OTHER SFIFF OPTIONS: Day 3 at the festival includes other shorts programs such as the also-excellent animation showcase. It's also the night of the first screenings of anticipated-by-me films like Tamako In Moratorium and Our Sunhi.

NON-SFIFF OPTION: Other Cinema's weekly screening tonight features the local single-channel premiere of Sam Green's Study of Fog as well as other Frisco-centric offerings.

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