Pass the Remote: Choice cuts from 3 film festivals opening this week

Three film festivals in the Bay Area take flight this week while another one in the South Bay offers more jam-packed temptations as part of its second week of all-virtual programming.

Pass the Remote spotlights a few of the choice cuts getting served at the San Francisco Greek Film Festival, the Poppy Jasper International Film Festival and the International Ocean Film Festival. We also point you to a light-hearted screwball comedy that is part of Cinejoy.

The San Francisco Greek Film Festival, running from Friday through April 16, offers a tasty and diverse menu this year with in-person selections at the Delancey Screening Room along with virtual options.

The 6:30 p.m. opening night feature “Holy Emy” kicks things off in a daring way with a nonconformist drama that refuses to adhere to the dictates of a specific genre.

The award-winning debut from Araceli Lemos tells the unique story of a young Filipina girl named Emy (Abigael Loma) with stigmata abilities that appear to be hereditary. When her sister (Hasmine Killip) gets pregnant by a bad-boy coworker at a fish seller that employs them both, Emy, already feeling alienated living in Greece, feels even more ostracized as her powers show up in miraculous ways.

“Holy Emy” is an intriguing message movie that comes Saran Wrapped-tight over an always-interesting, multihued premise about being an immigrant.

“Holy Emy” is the opening night selection of the San Francisco Greek Film Festival. (Photo courtesy San Francisco Greek Film Festival)

If you’re hankering for something sexy, sashay over at 6:30 p.m. April 12 to the Delancey Screening Room for Apollo Bakopoulos’ sensual “Aligned.” 

Abundant with the eye-candy sights of Athens, Greece, as well as the lithe, chiseled physiques of its two male leads, “Aligned” tells the steamy story of a New York dancer (Dimitris Fritzelas) and an out Greek dancer (Panos Malakos) and their discovery that they make excellent partners in the studio and great friends, and potentially more than that, whenever they are away from rehearsals.

“Aligned” is erotic, stylized but not overly explicit. It goes down smoothly.

“Aligned” is a sensual look at an unexpected attraction between two male dancers, one from Athens, Greece, and the other from New York. (Photo courtesy Apollo New York)

Other notables include the intense thriller about a relationship’s fallout in the aftermath of a disaster “All the Pretty Little Horses” (6:30 p.m. Saturday) and the closing night feature, an epic set in Smyrna about a family contending with raw emotional and physical wounds brought on by dark chapters in history, “My Beloved Smyrna” (6:30 p.m., April 16). For a full schedule and to see what is available to watch online, visit

There’s a lot blooming — particularly in terms of film festivals — in the South Bay this week. The Poppy Jasper International Film Festival runs Wednesday through April 13 and is boosted with Bay Area shorts along with features and documentaries that span the globe. 

Braden Swope’s “Human Resources” will screen as part of the South Bay film festival. (Photo courtesy Poppy International Film Festival)

Touting its 2021 MovieMaker Magazine designation for being one of the “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee,” the fest plants its roots in Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy, Hollister, and San Juan Bautista. The stated mission is to focus on “diverse, inclusive and women empowering films.”

There will be a mix of panels, movies and a special screening of Juliet Landau’s “A Place Among the Dead,” a star-studded documentary/narrative hybrid on the disturbing connections between the filmmaking industry and those of the bloodsucking community. How’s that for something novel? You can sink those bicuspids into that one at 8 p.m. Thursday at the District Theater in Gilroy.

Another selection that caught my eye is Braden Swope’s “Human Resources,” an award-winning horror entry that finds a new hardware store employee (Hugh McCrae Jr.) uncovering something dark and evil at work at his new job. It also screens at District Theater at 8 p.m. Saturday. For a complete list of films and to purchase tickets, visit

As studies and news reports continue to tell us, our planet is in a world of hurt right now with climate change accelerating. To throw some well-deserved respect the way of Mother Nature, why not plunge into the International Ocean Film Festival this weekend and learn more about the marvels of the seas that we need to protect and meet adventurers who rejoice in the big blue?

“Soul of the Ocean” takes us on a journey underwater. (Photo courtesy International Ocean Film Festival)

The 19th annual festival takes place in three venues: the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture in San Francisco (Thursday through Sunday); the Smith Rafael Film Center (Friday through Sunday); and the Roxie in SF (Saturday through Sunday).

Each location offers its own lineup so you’ll have Whitman’s Sampler of selections to choose from. Should you be in awe of underwater marvels (and who isn’t?), put Howard Wesley Hall’s “Soul of the Ocean” high on the list. His documentary revels in marine life and shows the interdependence of what dwells below and, in turn, on land.

It screens Saturday at the Cowell Theater as part of the 7 p.m. program along with Sophie Ballagh and Ewan Blyth’s 28-minute “ICEolation,” about a sea kayak trip through Antarctica’s icy, icy waters. “Soul” will also screen during the 7 p.m. Friday program at the Smith Rafael Film Center, along with the provocatively titled two-minute short “Lionfish: Ocean Murder Hedgehogs.”

“Selma” from director Maciek Jablonski chronicles a 2015 expedition on a yacht to get as close as possible to the South Pole. Makes your teeth chatter, doesn’t it? (Photo courtesy International Ocean Film Festival)

Since sailing is such a popular activity in the Bay Area, novice and pros might want to set a course to the Smith Rafael at 7 p.m. Saturday for a screening of the adventure documentary “Selma.” It details a 2015 yacht crew’s attempt to get their sailing vessel as close as possible to the South Pole.

To set sail on any or all of those, drop your anchor (or cursor) here at

And if you just need a good laugh or two, you’re in luck. J.W. Andrew’s frisky, dark-humored screwball comedy “The Dinner Parting” sprinkles in a whole lot of sassy laughs, and is screening as part of Cinejoy

Rachel Paulson and William Sterling deliver the witty banter in “The Dinner Parting,” part of Cinejoy. (Photo courtesy Arts & Cults Production Co.)

All of the film transpires in the home where Susan (Rachel Paulson) and Henry (William Sterling) are gathering both the expected and the unexpected for a dinner party that dishes out extra helpings of shocking secrets.

As the night wears on, stories turn ever more elaborate and the get-together goes way off its original three courses. The witty banter gets deliciously served up by both stars in this black-and-white charmer of a throwback to films of yesteryear.

For streaming tickets, visit

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