Magazine of Northern
May 20, 2015
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May Now Big Festival Month
by Tom Mayer
The Sonoma coast from 'Rebels with a Cause'. photo: N. Kelly & K. Yamamoto
SF Green Film Festival
If as some say film is a religion and film festivals are a pilgrimage, certainly, the Green Festival is some sort of Lourdes—dedicated to healing the earth.
I always find the SF Green Film Festival to be one of the most interesting and inspiring of all film festivals held annually in San Francisco. It makes an extra effort to reach out to diverse audiences and to engage people in important environmental issues.
Indeed, "This year's festival is bigger and better than ever, with more films covering a wider range of topics," Executive Director Rachel Caplan told me recently. Hence it includes local premieres of 40 films from around the world, with 70 visiting filmmakers and guest speakers.
Themes at this year’s festival include energy, green chemistry, food, housing, fashion, water use, and art in the environment. The Closing Night celebrations, June 5, takes place on United Nations’ World Environment Day, but it also features events, parties, panels and educational programs, which invite attendees to get involved and take action.
Opening Night, May 30, is the SF Premiere of "Rebels With A Cause", by Bay Area filmmakers Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto, covers the epic story of those who fought to save the Marin County coast.
New York State protestors trying to stop the dubious and chemical-ladened process called 'fracking'. photo: J. Bowermaster
Some other notable films are "Dear Governor Cuomo" (SF premiere), by Jon Bowermaster and starring Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo, about the incredible acts of nonviolent action for a ban on fracking in New York State; "Tiny" (also SF premiere) with filmmakers Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith in person, about the "tiny house movement;" and the Northern California Premiere of "More Than Honey", an in-depth look at honeybee colonies from Oscar-nominated director Markus Imhoof.
The third annual San Francisco Green Film Festival takes place May 30 through June 5 at New People Cinema, the Goldman Theater in Berkeley, the Koret Auditorium and Superfrog Gallery and SPUR Urban Center, 654 Mission Street, SF
For this year’s full festival program please visit
SF Green Fest
Noir Masterpieces at the Roxie
Another fantastic May festival is the Roxie's Film Noir series—curated by Elliot Lavine exclusively for the Roxie Theater—from May 10 to the 23rd. The series features classic examples of Noir, including studio vault prints, rarely-seen films never released on DVD, and restorations.
A favorite of mine for years, this series always provides surprises and rediscoveries galore. Lavine tells me that "Films like 'Blues in the Night' and 'The Monster and the Girl' deserve a wider audience. Many of these films, especially the Paramount releases, have only been recently released on DVD, or have never been released on VHS or DVD."
The poster from 'Blues in the Night' (1941 directed by recent immigrant Anatole Litvak. photo: A. Litvak
The latest series includes 30 films, classics as well as the customary rare rediscoveries that make the Roxie the SF showcase for Film Noir. Indeed, this month's installment is "another fantastic barrier-busting barrage of Hollywood hokum, film noir style." according to Lavine.
Favorites like "I Wake Up Screaming and "Sweet Smell of Success" will screen with rediscoveries and Noir hybrids like "Blues in the Night", "The Monster and the Girl", "All Through the Night" and "Nightmare". There will also be tributes to Joan Crawford, Beverly Michaels and George Sanders, see
PlayGround Film Festival
The second annual PlayGround Film Festival will run May 1 to 25 in San Francisco, Berkeley, San Rafael, and Palo Alto. The festival is a leading showcase for the Bay Area’s best new filmmakers and writers and their short work.
The festival is a combined project of the PlayGround and Dances with Light groups, representing an amazing fusion of the local theatre and film communities. Ranging from comedy to powerful contemporary issues, the films are all adapted from some of the best short plays developed andproduced by PlayGround over the last sixteen years and featured in the annual Best of PlayGroundFestival.
Each film has been created with the full collaboration of the original playwright and is followed by a short documentary about the writer. The festival opens Wednesday, May 1 at Berkeley’s Rialto Cinemas Elmwood with additional screenings in San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Rafael, and Berkeley. For tickets and more infor, please call 415-992-6677 or visit
Since 1994, PlayGround has been a leading incubator for some of the Bay Area’s most promising new playwrights, premiering 110 original short plays by 57 Bay Area emerging playwrights from several thousand submissions through its Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series and Best of PlayGround Festival. PlayGround has worked with groups throughout the Bay Area, including: Theatre Rhinoceros, SanJose Stage Company, Just Theater, and SF Playhouse.
Barry Stone, owner of Dances with Light, made his first film in 1979. He has professional credits as an actor, composer and director in the theatre, and as a producer, director, writer, composer, actor, cinematographer and editor in film and television. His directorial credits include "All Ways Welcome", produced and directed for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation, and numerous commercials, music videos and corporate films. He has been the cinematographer on many projects including forty-seven episodes of series television and twenty-one feature films.
Just Passed: SF Global Vietnamese Film Festival
The second biennial San Francisco Global Vietnamese Film Festival running April 26 to 28 at the Roxie Theater, is a film and video showcase centering Vietnamese filmmakers in Vietnam and the diaspora.
The biennial SFGVFF has been consistently one of the better film festivals in SF, with new films and filmmakers in person. The festival has been getting increasing publicity, and larger audiences, as the only festival of its kind in the Bay Area. The Opening Night Gala was at Artists’ Television Access (992 Valencia St), with the remaining programs at the historic Roxie Theater.
Over 20 films from all over the world—including Vietnam, Cambodia, Canada, France, Japan, Czech Republic, and the United States—were showcased.
This year, the SFGVFF features narrative, documentary, and experimental films and videos by Cuong Ngo (Pearls of the Far East), Do Quoc Trung (On Duty With Shu Qi), Duc Nguyen (sneak preview of Stateless), Hong-An Troung (Adaptation Fever), Leon Le (Dawn), Lin+Lam (Departure), Mark Tran (All About Dad), Nghiem Quynh Trang (Un Interrogatoire), Nguyen Dình Anh (Uncle & Son), a retrospective by Nguyen Trinh Thi, Phuong Thao Tran and Swann Debus (With or Without Me), Tony Nguyen (Enforcing the Silence), Tran Anh Hung (Norwegian Wood), Tran Dung Thanh Huy (16-30), Tran Ngoc Sang (Go Playing With Ice), and Viet Le (Love Bang!).
The festival featured introductory talks and Q&A discussion with filmmakers/directors Viet Le, Duc Nguyen, and Tony Nguyen and is sponsored by the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Walter and Elise Haas Fund, Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, and San Francisco Arts Commission. Visit
for more info and tickets.
Tom Mayer is a film and film display activist as well as writer living in San Francisco and he can be reached
Posted on May 06, 2013 - 10:35 PM