Yes, it’s that time of year again: gather your friends, book your tickets, and get ready for those watching marathons! Herewith, some curated selections for those overwhelmed by choice:
Honestly, I Just Go for the Costumes:
Belle, UK, dir. Amma Asante. Mixed-race Dido Elizabeth Belle and her white cousin Elizabeth, the great-nieces of William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, inspired this lush period drama. Yves Saint Laurent, France, dir. Jalil Lespert. All That Jazz, yes the Bob Fosse one.
Queen Margot: Director’s Cut, France/Italy/Germany, dir. Patrice Chéreau. Ample nudity and gore.
The Seventh Walk, India, dir. Amit Dutta. Deftly blending sound, image and text, this subtly hypnotic film meditates upon the figure of painter Paramjit Singh, commingled with surreal tableaux inspired by the artist’s paintings. Soul Food Stories, Bulgaria/Finland, dir. Tonislav Hristov. Muslim, Christian, Roma and atheist Communists live together peacefully now in Satovcha, a Bulgarian village of 2,000 people. Tangerines, Estonia/Georgia. Georgian director Zaza Urushadze has crafted a gripping and perceptive antiwar tale set during the brutal 1992 Georgian-Abkhazian war. We Come as Friends, France/Austria, dir. Hubert Sauper. Having liberated themselves from Omar al-Bashir, embattled South Sudanese now find themselves confronted by a new breed of predatory adversary that’s eager to reap financial gains.
Abuse of Weakness, France, dir. Catherine Breillat. Enough said. The Lady Eve, yes the one with Barbara Stanwyck. Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy, Thailand, dir. Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit. Mary’s final year of high school is told via 410 tweets. Tip Top, France, dir. Serge Bozon. Isabelle Huppert in a comedic police procedural. We Are The Best! Sweden. Director Lukas Moodysson and a punk rock girl band. Yeahh!
I Missed it at Sundance
Dear White People, US. A biting look at higher-education hypocrisy and racial politics in the “post-racial” world of Obama’s America, Justin Simien’s comedy spares no one. Difret, Ethiopia. Director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari captures Ethiopia’s scenic beauty, as well as the ugliness of customs that endanger the lives and futures of young women. Return to Homs, Syria/Germany, dir. Talal Derki. Filmed between 2011—2013, this urgent dispatch from the besieged Syrian city of Homs transmits a visceral eyewitness account of a peaceful uprising descending into civil war. White Shadow, Italy/Germany/Tanzania, dir. Noaz Deshe. Alias, an albino youth on the verge of adolescence, must learn to navigate a world in which he is not just an outsider, but actual prey.
The 57th San Francisco International Film Festival runs from 24 April–May 8, 2014, in San Francisco and Berkeley, CA. Buy tickets at: http://www.sffs.org/festival-home.