Friday, April 29, 2016

Sonita (2015)

A scene from Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami's SONITA, playing at the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 21 - May 5 2016. Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society.
WHO: "Afghanistan's youngest female rapper" (interestingly the only two Afghan rappers listed on English-language wikipedia are female) Sonita Alizadeh is the subject/star of this documentary, directed by Iranian filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami.

WHAT: Like No Home Movie, this is another SFIFF selection with US distribution (in this case through Women Make Movies) so I can only write a 100-word capsule review. Here goes:

America reflects in this window onto the eponymous charismatic, teenage, homeless Afghan refugee in Tehran, nascently negotiating her public persona. Overtly because she dream of following Eminem to rap stardom; subtextually because most viewers know so little just how our foreign policy's shaped this region. The narrative centerpiece, Sonita's cry against child-bridehood, is both personal and universally coherent and applicable. (Big kudos to the Dari-English rhyme translators/subtitlers!) Ghaemmaghami's own transformation from observer to catalyst is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of her documentary. It's left underdiscussed but enough camera-captured clues remain to provide countless theorists grist for important philosophical analyses.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens at BAMPFA tonight only at 8:45, as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival.

WHY: There's nothing like seeing a crowd-pleasing festival film with a sellout audience of respectful festgoers. That's why I picked this multi-award-winner as today's blog pick despite the fact that the final screening has gone to RUSH status, meaning that all advance ticekts have been sold and only a few will be made available at the door for those willing to wait in line an hour ahead of the showtime. I haven't ever tried seeing a RUSH-status show at BAMPFA (at its current or previous sites), but I've almost always had good luck using this method to see a popular film at other festival venues. The Alamo Drafthouse New Mission has a major advantage over the former festival flagship venue when it comes to Rush lines: a long wind-shielded corridor leading up to the door to the lobby makes an hour wait much pleasanter in any weather than the Kabuki could claim.

HOW: Digital screening with director in person. Here's a brief report on her appearance at the prior screening.

OTHER SFIFF SCREENINGS: Tonight being a Friday night, there have been a number of screenings at RUSH status including the final showing of another music-themed/Iran-centric feature Radio Dreams at BAMPFA, Late last night the second showing of Lebanese comedy Very Big Shot at the New Mission and the first showing of French nun drama The Innocents were marked at RUSH, but today they aren't- perhaps a few more advance tickets have been made available day-of. If you like nothing better than free tickets, you should definitely check out Contemporary Color, a documentary about a David Byrne-instigated color guard show, by the Ross Brothers (who made Western and Tchoupatoulas) that screens outdoors for free (with SFIFF ticket) at 432 Octavia, near Hayes.

NON-SFIFF SCREENING: 8PM tonight Oakland's Paramount Theatre hosts its (approximately) monthly movie screening. This time it's Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger. For $5 you get a 35mm feature, cartoon, newsreel and organ concert in the grandest movie palace on Frisco Bay.

No comments:

Post a Comment