Having a hard time recognizing San Francisco these days? It could be the radically altered skylines, with construction cranes busily working to make once-familiar corners ever more strange. Maybe it’s because all your friends have moved to Los Angeles or places where your Bay Area rent would pay for a five-bedroom mansion. Or was it that Maserati you were stuck behind in traffic, the one with the “JOHN GALT” vanity plate?
The good news is the San Francisco you once knew still exists, and the short documentary Lady Bountiful, screening at the Little Roxie this Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7pm, is here to remind you the city’s freaks, radicals, free-thinkers, bohemians, poets, artists and outcasts aren’t going anywhere without a fight.
Standing in for all of the above is the bike-riding, tai chi-practicing, tennis-playing octogenarian artist Joan von Briesen, whose penchant for accumulating things -- and people -- in her Cole Valley Victorian home are delightfully captured by filmmaker Ethan Goldwater. As she faces cancer treatments and her own mortality, von Briesen only stops moving, it seems, while napping face down on her bed.
Goldwater met von Briesen through a family member nearly 15 years ago, when he was interning at the Bay Guardian and writing investigative pieces about medical marijuana. He ended up living in the attic of von Briesen’s home for a year and a half; he’s been back and forth between San Francisco and New York ever since.
Despite the fact that von Briesen has hosted 100-plus tenants over the years -- many of them artists of various stripes -- this is the first time she’s been the subject of someone else’s work.