In most American cities, the annual film festival sucks up all the air for the month. The other venues for serious and/or alternative movies -- the arthouse cinemas, indie/underground theaters and museums -- scale back their programming in recognition that there simply isn't sufficient audience or media coverage to sustain everyone. We extend our sympathies. April in the Bay Area, like the other 11 months, is crammed with special events, retrospectives and one-off oddities. The SF International Film Festival (opening April 25) isn't so much a 600-pound gorilla hovering near the family china as a sundae-with-everything after a satisfying meal. So dig in, but save room for dessert.
San Francisco Cinematheque, the venerable keeper of the flame of experimental film and video, unveils Crossroads, its fourth annual immersion of new work from around the country, April 5-7 at the Victoria Theatre. Artistic Director Steve Polta has curated eight programs of visionary short films under such irresistible rubrics as "As if clinging could save us," "On the beach (at night)" and "…in which the players in the great mystery vanish into spectacle!" Treat your senses, and imagination, to the visions of the amazing Janis Crystal Lipzin, Paul Clipson, Kelly Sears, Scott Stark (presenting the world premiere of The Realist at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 7), Malic Almaya and Michael Robinson, among others. For more information visit sfcinematheque.org.
Joel Shepard's globe-trotting expeditions have made the film programming at Yerba Buena Center For the Arts a crucial if underappreciated strand of the local tapestry. This month's coup is an appearance by master mood-maker Pen-ek Ratanaruang in conjunction with the retrospective, Thai Dreams: The Films of Pen-ek Ratanaruang. The director will be on hand Thursday, April 4 with his latest work, Headshot (2011), winningly described as a "Buddhist neo-noir," and Sunday, April 7 with the mysterious relationship/nature drama Nymph (2009). The six-film series, replete with confounding and mind-blowing scenes, continues through April 21. For more information visit ybca.org.