February 18, 2022
By Nancy Friedman
Its running time is just 87 minutes. It has only three main characters. Its filming locations were confined mostly to downtown Los Angeles and studio soundstages.
But in its way Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 film City Lights qualifies as an epic—and so does the story behind the San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s one-night-only presentation of this silent masterpiece, accompanied by the Oakland Symphony under the direction of Timothy Brock, at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre on Saturday, February 19.
Ashia Lance Interviews Stanley Nelson
Co-Directors Stanley Nelson and Traci Curry brilliantly reshape race narrative in ATTICA by giving voice to the unheard minorities and disrupting the dominant historical narrative. It is a strategy that Nelson has used in his many films including THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL, JONESTOWN: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE and MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL.
An Interview by Ashia Lance
SIMPLE AS WATER is an exquisitely shot and urgent film that looks at war and displacement through the lens of parenthood. The San Francisco International Film Festival’s “Doc Stories” noted “The modern world has become all too familiar with images of refugees fleeing their homes, desensitized to the onslaught of harrowing images and heartbreaking stories. Academy Award® winner Megan Mylan (LOST BOYS OF SUDAN, SMILE PINKI) trains her lens on the everyday acts of courage and determination that drive her protagonists, featuring families in Turkey, Greece, the US, and Syria. From a soft-spoken Uber driver who sacrifices everything for his teenage brother to far-flung parents urged on by parental love, this timeless film explores ties that bind and the dreams that empower humans to overcome the unthinkable.”
We invite you to discover from Mylan’s film and this interview what happens after these displaced individuals find sanctuary and slip from the headlines?
Two fascinating video sessions occurred in November, 2021. We have obtained these recording for your viewing pleasure.
Gregory Bezat, San Francisco producer/director of a film in production, M.F.K. Fisher:The Art of Eating, was on a terrific panel on Food Luminary Documentaries such as Julia Child and James Beard.
Allen Michaan told tales of saving and operating the Grand Lake Theatre movie palace in Oakland in a wide-ranging conversation about the joys of saving a place that has meant so much for nearly a of century of moviegoers..
Both can be watched below.
By C.J. Hirschfield
At the beginning of the pandemic, TIGER KING was the documentary everyone was watching. It focused on an eccentric and unethical schemer/scammer driven by greed–truly a despicable character. Kind of like the president we were forced to endure on screen at the same time.
Maybe now we’re ready to see more documentaries like the recently-released FAUCI, and now LIKE A ROLLING STONE: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BEN FONG-TORRES, which turn the camera onto people who show up with passion, talent and humility every day– and not just for the money. After a film festival tour and theatrical release the film is now on Netflix.
By C.J. Hirschfield
(Editor’s note: On August 20, 2021 Michael Morgan unexpectedly passed away at age 63 from an infection. In the weeks prior to being admitted to the hospital he had conducted at the San Francisco Symphony and Bear Valley Music Festival. The Oakland Symphony paid tribute to him.)
In April, 2021, ten documentary short subject films were short-listed for this year’s Oscars. At their best, documentary shorts tell a compelling story that, while lacking in length (they must be under 40 minutes) still manage to grab and hold us, leaving us richer for the experience.