By Randy Myers
Bay City News Foundation
An eclectic mix of shorts, features and documentaries, all focused on environmental issues, pops up at San Francisco’s 2022 Green Film Festival, set to hit screens at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco Thursday through Sunday. It will also be available to stream from Thursday through April 24.
The festival – along with the Smith Rafael Film Center’s four-film thematic program set in a beleaguered region of Ukraine – takes center stage in this week’s Pass the Remote.
In its second year, San Francisco’s Green Film Festival is further cementing its tradition of whipping up a fresh slate of films and shorts. The robust spirit of its lineup can be attributed to it being the brainchild of the SF IndieFest team, responsible for many Bay Area fan favorites such as Another Hole in the Head, SF IndieFest , DocFest and more. When the San Francisco Green Film Festival closed in 2020 after 10 years, the San Francisco Green Film Festival came into existence afterward.
As with many SF Indie productions, San Francisco’s Green Film Festival aims to not only elevate works from around the world, but also focus on the Bay Area’s filmmaking community, a trend reflected in its immensely relatable opening feature, “Do I Need That?”
Novato’s Kate Schermerhorn covers vast territory in a 60+ minute documentary that explores the question posed in its title, then not only encourages us to examine all the things we hoard, but also adds context to our consumption from the views offered by authors, experts and, of course, consumers. But what gives this world premiere its power and emotional resonance is when Schermerhorn recounts the painful transition of helping her aging parents leave their well-stocked home and enter an assisted care facility. Never do we feel like Schermerhorn shames us for our need to collect curious objects that we then allow to collect unused dust in our garages. This avoidance of tsk-tsking helps make “Do I need this?” much more effective because it follows a compassionate path and refuses to be pedantic or make us feel bad. (To stream, visit https://watch.eventive.org/sfgreen2022/play/621961d7e4cda100b013248b; screens at 8 p.m. Thursday with “The New Environmentalists,” which screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival, https://sfgreen2022.eventive .org/schedule/62196191ad8b6a006208120e)
The fiery and atypical program of the festival can be found in two of its flagship screenings.
First, the 50th anniversary presentation of Douglas Trumbull’s ahead-of-its-time sci-fi classic, “Silent Running.” Bruce Dern plays a botanist who becomes suspicious of a plan to eradicate thriving ecosystems that have been transplanted into a spacecraft that is to be decommissioned and sold. (Screens at 8:45 p.m. Saturday at the Roxie, https://sfgreen2022.eventive.org/schedule/62196b3e79f00b00531c98da, and can be viewed on YouTube)
If your cinematic appetites lean towards the stomach-churning horror genre that also carries an indignant message about not messing with the dirt, turn into a night owl and pop in to the midnight Friday screening (OK , 8:45 p.m.) from “The Feast.” Lee Haven Jones’ panic doesn’t stop at gore as a wealthy family prepares for dinner at their posh home nestled in the Welsh mountainside.The appearance of a hired hand (Annes Elwy) sets the courses of a bloody meal. “The Feast” simmers in its own sauces for quite a while, but when the tensions boil over, prepare to squirm like a goldfish in the desert. (Screens 8:45 p.m. Friday at the Roxie , https://sfgreen2022.eventive.org/films/62192e0339bbc80036e2be00)
If you want to dive headfirst into Bay Area talent and stories, check out the Shorts Programs.
Here are a few to note:
“Yellowstone 88: Song of Fire” is a beautifully animated, award-winning short film directed by Mill Valley’s Jerry van de Beek and Betsy De Fries, and gives us a poetic insight into the devastating 1988 fire in the oldest national park in America, Yellowstone . Peter Coyote narrates with eloquent refinement, reciting De Fries’ lovely poem “Song of Fire” with such grace. It’s short (less than 6 minutes) but still meaningful. (To stream, visit https://sfgreen2022.eventive.org/films/6224ca3bbc403400d9d436a8; 4:15 p.m. screens Saturday at Roxie with “Holgut,” https://sfgreen2022.eventive.org/schedule/6222be32d711b1005bffe0ff)
One 39-minute documentary that I found particularly illuminating is “War and Time” by Professor Enid Baxter Ryce of CSU Monterey Bay, a fascinating look at this rather dumb human tendency to want to control the weather. Stupid humanity. Premiered at Philip Glass’ Days and Nights festival, it uses the composer’s music in the background, then takes us from the past to the present, all the while evoking men imagining mind-boggling notions, such as suggesting that firing cannonballs might stimulate precipitation. and that bad weather is a barometer of war. Hmmm. The experimental documentary also examines how scientists have made strides to better understand atmospheric rivers, while conspiracy theorists step in and sow and season more misinformation. (To stream, visit https://sfgreen2022.eventive.org/films/622391aad711b1005b004066; screens at noon Saturday with the short film “Taking the Reins” by Bay Area Gunther Kirsch, about the ordeal of a family breeders in Silicon Valley, https://sfgreen2022.eventive.org/schedule/62239290f585f400aad8c27c)
A few other Bay Area notables include: Oakland’s Nick Stone Schearer’s stunningly photographed look at urban coyotes and ways Bay Area residents can respect their existence, “Don’t Feed the Coyotes” ; Nathan Weyland of Oakland’s informative insight into coping with dismal rainfall while adapting to a thirsty Central Valley agricultural system that feeds the nation, “Finding Balance Below”; and Zack McCune’s “The Last Lion,” an interesting dive into the background of a photographer who allegedly took a picture of a Barbary lion in 1925, the last sighting.
To purchase tickets or to stream everything, visit https://sfgreen2022.eventive.org/welcome.
If you want to better understand Ukraine and how the country’s filmmakers view and process what’s happening in the tumultuous region of Donbass, the Smith Rafael Film Center helps shed some light with its impressive series of Ukrainian films, launching this weekend. .
The first film in the series is “Bad Roads”, writer/director Natalya Vorozhbit’s feature debut and Ukraine’s official selection for the 2022 Oscars. It is set on the choppy roads of Donbass and spans four vignettes. (Friday 7 p.m.; Monday 7 p.m.)
The ambitious, crazy-as-hell black comedy “Donbass” is a loud anti-war feature/satire that intertwines the lives of many characters who find themselves triggered by propaganda, fear and anger. Set in the mid-2010s, director Sergei Loznitsa’s epic reflects on the madness of war and how misinformation fuels hatred, which then reverberates across the country and around the world. (7 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Tuesday).
In 2014, in “Reflection” by the talented filmmaker Valentyn Vasyanovych, a Ukrainian surgeon/prisoner of war is given an unthinkable task when he is detained: participating in mercy killings. The filmmaker’s harrowing drama “Atlantis” finds Serhiy trying to get his life back to some semblance of normal once he’s released. (4:15 p.m. Sunday; 7 p.m. April 21).
Finally, Iryna Tsilyk’s Sundance winner, “The Earth Is Blue Like an Orange,” captures the resilience of a family’s spirit amid the destruction of war. As chaos rumbles outside, single mother Anna from the small town of Krasnohorivka creates a cinematic wonderland within her home as she and her family shoot a film that uses their wartime experiences as a creative springboard . (7 p.m. Sunday; 7 p.m. April 20)
For tickets, a portion of which will be donated to Americares’ Ukraine Crisis Fund, visit https://rafaelfilm.cafilm.org/ukrainian-film-series/.