Boundless cinema: SF International Film Festival celebrates directorial debuts, documentaries, democracy

Scenes from films in the SF Film Festival
Samantha Patten/Staff

With “Avengers: Endgame” just hitting theaters and new summer blockbusters around the corner, it might be easy for the movie masses to have their attention drawn to the bombastic and showy action of such films. Meanwhile, the San Francisco International Film Festival, which ended April 23, featured a variety of films empowered not by their CGI stunts and high-budget casts but by their subtle narratives, diverse landscapes and nuanced creative teams. In bringing individuals across the Bay Area and beyond together at select venues such as the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive for the purpose of joint artistic appreciation, the film festival realized some of the most resounding potentialities of film as an art form. From legendary jazz performers to excavated documentaries to bees, the festival highlighted previously told stories in innovative lights and projected wholly original storylines previously unseen by the public eye. Join The Daily Californian as we delve into these fresh tales.

Maisy Menzies, Ryan Tuozzolo and Anagha Komaragiri

On making a generational anthem: An interview with the cast and crew of ‘Booksmart’

Coming-of-age films are a veritable gateway for a budding movie lover, telling stories that speak to youth anxiety while giving up-and-coming talents a chance to make a name for themselves.

— Jackson Kim Murphy

‘Honeyland’ is poignant tale of community, survival in Balkan landscape

Visually, the film drips with the golden honey that drives the narrative.

— Areyon Jolivette

Petra Costa captures Brazil’s political tensions, legacies in ‘The Edge of Democracy’

Costa doesn’t shy away from involving herself in the action; throughout the film she can be seen and heard asking questions and pressing interviewees to reveal more.

— Camryn Bell

‘Tehran: City of Love’ highlights search for identity in urban lifestyle

This triptych plays out in the streets of contemporary Tehran, a city where the language of love and the language of business are interwoven as subtly as the relationships forged between its inhabitants.

— Ruth Murphy

In ‘What We Left Unfinished,’ Mariam Ghani recalls Afghan tales burned, lost, forgotten

These directors, actors and writers produced art for the sake of both history and a chance to process the violence around them.

— Malini Ramaiyer

‘Booksmart’ explores chaos, restlessness of the end of high school

“Booksmart” understands the stakes of this specific quarterlife crisis, spinning an entertaining thread before falling prey to its tendency to sugarcoat the situation.

— Jackson Kim Murphy

‘Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool’ showcases life of iconic jazz musician

An overall excellent documentary, “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” transcends some of the pitfalls of biographical work.

— Camryn Bell