Bay Area Filmmakers Well Represented at the SF International Film Festival

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Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson appear in 'Sorry to Bother You,' by Boots Riley (Courtesy of SFFILM)

The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) opens April 4 with a nearly-endless variety of features, shorts and documentaries from around the world. But despite it having "international" in the name, there's always a local angle at SFIFF.

Opening night is reserved for A Kid Like Jake, directed by Silas Howard. He was a guitarist with the San Francisco "queercore" punk band Tribe 8, before doing films, and working on the show Transparent. In an interview at Sundance, Howard described what drew him to this film that stars Clair Danes and Jim Parsons as parents trying to find the right kindergarten for their Gender Fluid child: “I’m very fond of characters saying the wrong thing, and then ultimately doing the right thing. Especially when someone you care about is maybe at risk of being hurt or made fun of.”

'A Kid Like Jake' features Claire Danes, Jim Parsons and Leo James Davis in a film directed by Silas Howard
'A Kid Like Jake' features Claire Danes, Jim Parsons and Leo James Davis in a film directed by Silas Howard (Courtesy of Sundance Film Institute)

And another local angle, Howard got a grant to help finance this film from SFFILM and San Francisco’s Kenneth Rainin Foundation.

Both my co-host and I are most excited about the debut film for Oakland musician Boots Riley, who directed and wrote the film Sorry to Bother You. It’s a wild comedy set in Oakland about Cassius Green (Lakeith Greenfield),  a black man, who gets a job as a telemarketer, and then becomes a phenomenal success by pretending to have a "white voice." Arnie Hammer, Terry Crews and Bay Area resident Danny Glover co-star, and it looks hilarious and a bit surreal.


Other films with Bay Area connections include Come Inside My Mind, a documentary about Robin Williams; Endgame, a film about hospice directed by Bay Area filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. And the festival is honoring Bay Area filmmaker Wayne Wang, who made SmokeChan is Missing, Dim Sum, and The Joy Luck Club. The festival runs April 4-17 at the Castro and other theaters in San Francisco, and the Grand Lake and the PFA in Berkeley.  Details here.