Pass the Remote: A newly restored ‘Bushman,’ plus raucous comedy, charming animation, and Mads Mikkelsen

A stunning restoration of the little-seen San Francisco-set indie drama "Bushman" screens Feb. 3 at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in its West Coast premiere. (Courtesy Milestone Films/Kino Lorber)

David Schickele’s “Bushman” appeared to be destined to become yet another celluloid casualty, a noteworthy but scrappy B&W indie seen by few, since it received a blip of a release and never migrated to DVD, let alone a streaming service. 

It was poised to be lost forever. 

To the rescue came Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and The Film Foundation, which identified “Bushman” as a lost Bay Area gem, and distributors Milestone Films and Kino Lorber. An impressive 4K restoration of Schickele’s 1971 San Francisco-set, highly unconventional feature receives a Bay Area premiere on Saturday at the PFA. 

Episodic and experimental, it fuses fiction with fact, focusing on Nigerian immigrant/San Francisco State University professor Gabriel (Paul Eyam Nzie Okpokam, a non-professional actor) and his seemingly random encounters with counter-culture San Francisco types: girlfriends, campers and even a guy who fancies him. 

The fascinating people and vignettes expose the racism embedded in white culture. “‘Bushman” serves as a distinct time capsule for the tenor and attitudes of 1968 in the wake of staggering slayings of Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Hutton and Robert F. Kennedy. But it’s not a narrow portrait about America or the Bay Area. Schickele uses footage from his time in the Peace Corps to recreate scenes of life in Nigeria, along with quick flashes of the carnage of Nigeria’s civil war. 

Gabriel discovers he’s indeed a stranger in a strange land, someone unique—in white people’s view—who piques the curiosity of some who find him “exotic” and exciting. 

“Bushman” takes a twist two-thirds in, changing direction with a startling development that throws cold water in the faces of audiences, but here’s a tip: Do not read too much about the movie before heading to the PFA to see this resurrected Bay Area-set classic.  

“Bushman” and “Give Me a Riddle” screen at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by a conversation with two relatives of Schickele, who died in 1999, and Bay Area filmmakers Rob Nilsson and Ross Lipman. For tickets, visit There’s also an encore screening, with no guests, at 7 p.m. Feb. 24. For tickets ($10-$20) and information, visit  

San Francisco native Leah McKendrick proves she’s a force in front of and behind the camera—and laptop—with “Scrambled.” (Courtesy Lionsgate)

San Francisco native Leah McKendrick pulls triple duty on her raw and raucous debut “Scrambled,” coming to theaters on Friday and not to be missed. McKendrick stars in, wrote and directed this hilarious, unabashedly real comedy/drama sure to resonate with single women in their 30s surrounded by countless bridal and baby showers for everyone but themselves.

McKendrick plays exasperated Los Angeles jewelry designer Nellie Robinson, always the life of the party, but feeling the pressure to have a child. Since she’s no longer with that perfect someone, she elects to freeze her eggs and decides to revisit lovers from her past—to hilariously awkward results. McKendrick pulls off the triple duty with finesse; “Scrambled” should elevate her presence and stature.  

“The Tiger’s Apprentice,” set primarily in San Francisco, is an animated delight for families. (Courtesy Paramount+).

San Francisco also shines in the spotlight in the delightful Paramount+ stand-alone animated family feature “The Tiger’s Apprentice” based on San Francisco author Laurence Yep’s 2003 fantasy novel. It’s packed with voices of A-listers (Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh, Sandra Oh, Henry Golding, Bowen Yang, Lucy Liu) whose characters are animals in the Chinese Zodiac. With the assistance of an overly confident tiger (Golding), a Chinese-American boy named Tom (Brandon Soo Hoo) works to protect all the creatures that make up the Zodiac, and the world itself.

After a rough prologue, “The Tiger’s Apprentice,” which debuts Friday on Paramount+, hits its stride and speeds along like a bullet.  

“The Promised Land” with a tremendous Mads Mikkelsen, left foreground, and a hissable Simon Bennebjerg, right, screens in limited release. Don’t miss it. (Courtesy Magnolia Pictures)

Even if it didn’t land as a nominee for Oscar’s best international feature in 2024, director Nikolaj Arcel’s solemn but exciting 18th century Denmark epic on the high cost of ambition and the terrible ruling class, “The Promised Land,” is highly worth seeing—especially in a theater.

Mads Mikkelsen brings his sexy, seething intensity to the part of Capt. Ludvig Kahlen. Kahlen’s given a mission impossible really, to make an unforgiving plot of Jutland fertile. He accepts the challenge since the payoff is a noble title, but his valiant efforts attract the interest and ire of his nobleman neighbor, the insanely jealous sociopath Frederik De Schinkel (Simon Bennebjerg). He oversees the swath of land and makes life miserable for Kahlen and a couple that’s working to make the land bear fruits and vegetables.

“The Promised Land,” as intensely well-constructed as its lead actor, has the enduring feel and appeal of a novel. Opening Friday in theaters, it’s a must on the big screen. But be prepared for bursts of violence.

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *