Venice. Telluride. Toronto.
Film fans from around the globe jet to these hot-spot destinations for marathon viewings of buzzy films that often go on to dominate the awards conversation. While the actors’ and writers’ strikes continue to deter stars from chattering about their films with journalists and others, these fests still have the power to entice and draw massive crowds despite the scaled-back celebrity power.
But let’s face it. Attending those festivals costs an awful lot, with hotels jacking up prices and airfare burning up savings accounts.
The good news: Should that confluence of budgetary constraints and limited vacation time put the kibosh on making a cinematic pilgrimage, the Bay Area film scene is a more than a satisfying alternative. You can stay in the know with no financial burden.
Pass the Remote gives you a rundown on Bay Area film fests coming to theaters near you.
14th annual San Francisco Dance Film Festival
When: Sept. 22- Oct. 8
Where: Most screenings at ODC Theater, San Francisco, also streaming
Some highlights: The Oakland-set episodic film “Flower” (Oct. 1, Brava Theater) addresses various issues that resonate not only in the Bay Area but around the world, including the dire housing situation. Director Manuela Dalle’s “Dancing in A-Yard” (Oct. 5, ODC Theater) centers on 10 men in a dance program in Los Angeles county’s California State Prison at Lancaster. The award-winning documentary “Call Me Dancer” (Oct. 7, ODC Theater) tells the inspiring story of street dancer Manish Chauhan, whose perseverance and dedication to his craft despite his family’s reluctance led him on a path to a new career.
46th Mill Valley Film Festival
When: Oct. 5-15
Where: Mill Valley, San Rafael, Larkspur, Berkeley, San Francisco
Highlights: Certain to be full of award hopefuls, the festival’s full schedule gets unveiled Sept. 7, but a few Bay Area-tied morsels already have been announced. Richmond filmmaker Finn Taylor’s “Avenue of the Giants,” partially shot in Marin, covers how a teen (Elsie Fisher) and Auschwitz survivor Herbert Heller (Stephen Lang) changed each other’s lives. Berkeley director Maureen Gosling’s documentary “The 9 Lives of Barbara Dane” describes the instrumental roles the Oakland singer and activist played on the Bay Area civil rights justice scene. And San Rafael directors Jonathan Parker and Marlo McKenzie shine a spotlight on a popular Bay Area personality and adult entertainment nightspot in “Carol Doda Topless at the Condor.”
More info: https://www.mvff.com/ ; tickets go on sale Friday
Drunken Film Fest
When: Oct. 8-13
Where: Double Standard (Oct. 8), Stay Gold (Oct. 9), Telegraph (Oct. 10), Temescal Brewing (Oct. 11), Eli’s Mile High Club (Oct. 12), Continental Club (Oct. 13), all in Oakland
Highlights: The program of the DIY fest taking place in bars has not been announced, but expect an eclectic mix of short features, animation, documentaries and more — set in the Bay Area and beyond.
More info: Drunken Film Fest | Oakland; tickets go on sale Friday.
Green Film Festival of San Francisco
When and Where: Oct. 12-22 (streaming); Oct. 12-19 (Roxie, San Francisco)
Highlights: “A Thousand Pines” (Oct. 15, Roxie) follows, for one season, Oaxacan tree planter Raymundo Morales and his crew as they arduously help America regrow its forests. Bay Area documentary makers Sebastián Diaz and Noam Osband direct. Bay Area filmmaker Gemma Cubero del Barrio brings a personal touch to “The Island in Me” (Oct. 14, Roxie), a documentary about two women who grew up on a Cook Islands atoll and their return visit decades later. John McDonald’s “Call Me Mule” (Oct. 15, Roxie) introduces John Sears (aka Mule), who travels around the county with —you guessed it —mules and has raised a ruckus in some quarters.
More info: https://sfgreenfest2023.even tive.org
Albany Film Festival
When and Where: Oct. 12-15 at El Cerrito’s Rialto Cinemas (since Albany no longer has a movie theater)
Highlights: Now at Rialto Cinemas Cerrito, the festival has three programs on separate days: Green Docs on Oct. 12; Seeing/Believing on Oct. 14; and Connections on Oct. 15. Joan N. Hamilton’s 35-minute documentary “The Long Game: How Robert Doyle Shaped the East Bay” examines the crucial role the former East Bay Regional Park District general manager played in preserving open land for public enjoyment; it’s part of Green Docs. In the short documentary “Swimming the Rock,” screening on Oct. 15, a grieving man honors his grandmother with a swim from Alcatraz. Also on Oct. 15, Grace Anna Walcott’s “River of Life” observes 13 queer individuals participating in a 10-week drama therapy workshop.
More info: https://albanyfilmfest.org/
The 26th United Nations Association Film Festival
When and Where: Oct. 19-29 in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, San Francisco, Stanford University
Highlights: The 26th festival of documentaries continues to focus on human rights with an emphasis on strategies and approaches that offer solutions; a news conference announcing the schedule is Sept. 22.
More info: http://www.unaff.org/2023/mission.html
3rd i San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival
When: Oct. 23-25
Where: Roxie and Castro theaters, San Francisco
Highlights: The full lineup has not been announced, but confirmed films include “While We Watched,” which spotlights the tenacity and ethical standards of Indian anchor and journalist Ravish Kumar on the job and looks at the dangerous spread of misinformation. Director Vinay Shukla’s documentary is the opening night selection. If you want to see something with an edge, director Kanu Behl provides with “Agra,” an uncompromising portrait of a sexually repressed man living in tight quarters with his family.
More info: The schedule will be available on Sept. 20 at https://www.thirdi.org/
Other upcoming events: The Roxie and the Red and White Fleet’s “Floating Features” is a not-too-miss series of film cruises on San Francisco Bay. This year’s program, which is aboard the hybrid electric vessel Enhydra, includes: “Jaws” (9 p.m. Sept. 29-30), “The Rock” (9 p.m. Oct. 13-14), “So I Married an Axe Murderer” (8 p.m. Oct. 20-21) and “Little Shop of Horrors” (8 p.m. Oct. 27-28). Tickets are $50. For more info, visit https://roxie.com/series/floating-features/.