Monday, April 16, 2018

SFFILM 61 Day 13: .TV

The 61st San Francisco International Film Festival is nearly done, running through April 17th. Each day during the festival I've been posting about a festival selection I've seen or am anticipating.

Image from .TV supplied by SFFILM
.TV (USA/TUVALU/NEW ZEALAND/FRANCE: G. Anthony Svatek, 2017)
playing: 4:30 today at the Roxie as part of the Shorts 4: New Visions program

Yesterday SFFILM Festival announced its annual Golden Gate Awards winners as well as Audience Awards winners. The latter are Sam Green's live documentary on the Kronos Quartet, A Thousand Thoughts and Youtuber Bo Bunham's directorial debut Eighth Grade; I've seen neither but Eight Grade screens one last time again today, 2PM at the Roxie.

The Golden Gate Award winners are all listed in David Hudson's SFFILM round-up, if you scroll down to yesterday's date. Again I haven't seen any of the features but I've seen most of the shorts (all but the narrative winner Shadow Animals & runner-up Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month). I don't have any major quibbles with their other selections but my sensibilities matched the jury's most precisely in its selection of .TV for the New Visions Golden Gate Award for experimental film and video works. Named for the internet domain extension that, if current climate change trends continue could become the last remaining trace of the Polynesian nation Tuvalu, .TV draws on (according to its end credits) video footage of Tuvalu's islands from Youtube and the hors-frontieres website, along with a voiceover by Tuvaluan-in-exile Tiueli Papau, to create an experimental documentary with traces of apocalyptic "fiction". Add in the element of video footage streaming directly from websites paying to use the .tv extension (to the point that, according to a title card, it's become Tuvalu's steadiest source of income) in mundane domestic and office spaces, and we have a film that perfectly intersects our transforming world in the age of internet pervasiveness and environmental catastrophe. Not only can we watch images of beauty before their destruction on our multiplying screens, we can make movies about countries we may never have visited and even win prizes for them (if we're as talented as Svatek).

Second prize in the new Visions category went to Ameer Kazmi's meandering but eye-popping Fair Grounds; I personally prefer Akosua Adoma Owusu's small-gague sequel to an Academy Award-winning classic, Mahogany Too, or Kevin Jerome Everson's mesemerizing Rams 23 Blue Bears 21, or Hope Tucker's eerie exploration of a never-activated nuclear power plant Atomkraftwerk Zwentendorf, but it's a matter of small differences in taste, as the entire New Visions 4 program is solid work. Check it out today if you can slot it into your schedule, and check out SF Cinematheque, Other Cinema, BAMPFA and the Silent Film Festival for upcoming screenings of experimental film and video from the present and past.

SFFILM61 Day 13
Other festival options: In addition to Eighth Grade, today's the last SFFILM opportunity to see Amy Adrion's documentary about the hurdles facing women directors in Hollywood, Half the Picture, which I just learned includes an on-screen interview with local filmmaker Jennifer Phang in addition to the women (Miranda July, Ava DuVernay, Penelope Spheeris) listed in the festival program guide (one might think this year's program notes weren't written by locals). It shows at the Victoria. as does the French-Canadian zombie film Ravenous.

Non-SFFILM option: With the passing of Miloš Forman this weekend, I'm thinking fondly of his appearance at the 2004 edition of the festival, my first as press. In fact I named my wrap-up piece in Senses of Cinema after his great film shown that year, Taking Off- though I hesitate to link to the article because I'm embarrassed how I misgender the subject of one of the films I talk about (Beautiful Boxer). I'm trying to grow and learn. Anyway, tonight the San Francisco Symphony is presenting a screening of Forman's Amadeus at Davies Symphony Hall with live music replacing that of the film (though dialogue and sound effects will remain) and if I weren't working past the start time I'd be pretty tempted.

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