Now Playing! SFFILM Rocks On with Warpaint and Wisconsin Deaths

Members of the band Warpaint perform as part of a special SFFILM program at the Castro Theater this year. (Robin Laananen)

The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM) continues through April 23, with a few fresh-as-a-daisy oldies stirred into the contemporary state-of-cinema mix. This year, a Castro Theater event on April 19 pairing live music with silent films is typically inspired. It matches live music from Warpaint’s Theresa Wayman and Stella Mozgawa with the immortal Maya Deren’s amazing mid-century works of avant-garde ethnography: At Land, Meshes of the Afternoon, Ritual in Transfigured Time and The Very Eye of Night. Entrancing, transporting and not to be missed.

One of my more memorable, and confounding, experiences at the San Francisco International Film Festival was the 2000 press screening of Wisconsin Death Trip. I recall James Marsh’s genre-defying adaptation of Michael Lesy’s 1973 cult-fave compilation of 19th century photographs and newspaper accounts of Midwestern self-destruction and suffering as an amalgam of black-and-white poetry, historical curiosity, death tourism (Marsh is British) and bullet-punctuated eulogy. Decide for yourself on Saturday, April 20, when Wisconsin Death Trip screens at BAMPFA in Berkeley as part of the Mel Novikoff Award presentation to editor and executive producer Anthony Wall of BBC Arena, the long-running strand of stellar arts documentaries. (James Marsh, incidentally, went on to win the Best Documentary Oscar for Man on Wire before segueing to narrative features.)

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