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Now Playing! Bayview and Beyond, All the Way to Hong Kong

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The Haight-Ashbury intersection in 1966, a still from 'Lost Landscapes.' (Rick Prelinger)

The local news of the week, Entertainment Division, is that the multi-talented Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You) is making a half-hour, Oakland-set series for Amazon with Jharrel Jerome playing a 13-foot man-child. Riley previously described I’m A Virgo as “dark, absurd, hilarious and important,” which jibes with the writer-director’s latest statement: “This show will either have me lauded or banned, and as such, I have demanded payment up front.”

Lost Landscapes of San Francisco
Dec. 16

Cities exist in a swirl of evolution and entropy, but San Francisco’s rate of change quickened dramatically in 2020 with the death-by-pandemic of countless restaurants and small businesses. So the aura of nostalgia that envelops Rick Prelinger’s annual compendium of 20th-century amateur films (i.e., home movies) and archival artifacts will be particularly pronounced this year.

Much of the fun of Lost Landscapes is hearing people yell out names and locations as places zip by in Prelinger’s seductive montage. A live chat will have to suffice instead, in this 5pm streaming presentation, with the advantage that you’ll be able to make out what everyone is yelling (that is, typing). Just don’t be surprised if the castles in the celluloid exert a stronger-than-usual emotional pull. The screening is free, though the Prelinger Library welcomes donations.

Bayview Live, held Oct. 17, 2020 by SF Urban Film Fest. (Lucas Bradley)

Bayview is Alive
Dec. 17
YBCA (online)

Bayview has as rich a history as any district in San Francisco, though much of it has been forgotten or erased. Important bits and pieces of that history are preserved and depicted in the murals that dot the neighborhood. And now, Susie Smith has documented four of those murals in individual short films that movingly convey the lives of everyday people.

These essential portraits—which should be seen by every San Franciscan—screen under the auspices of YBCA artists in residence SF Urban Film Fest, along with Shantré Pinkney’s new, immersive short filmed at a summer community event in Bayview. Then stay tuned (streamed?) for a conversation among community leaders—some of whom appear in the films—about Bayview’s past and present contributions to the fabric of San Francisco. In addition, the YBCA website features a link to the short documentary Point of Pride: The People’s View of Bayview/Hunter’s Point (2014).

Still from from tamara suarez porras’ ‘within a great silence,’ 2019. (Courtesy SF Cinematheque)

covalences: works from black hole collective film lab
Through Jan. 10, 2021
SF Cinematheque (online)

If I asked you to name the biggest champions of shooting movies on film in the digital age, you’d likely cite megalomaniac multimillionaires Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino. They are the loudest, certainly, but I’m more impressed with the work of a dogged confederation of avant-garde filmmakers based in West Oakland and known as the Black Hole Collective Film Lab.

covalences, a collection of experimental shorts by Alix Blevins, Anna Geyer and many others curated by BHCFL and streaming on the SF Cinematheque website, confronts us with flashes and flurries of tactile, shuddering images intended to provoke and unsettle. For those of adventurous spirit, the last sentence of the artists’ statement is irresistible: “On the one hand, this program represents to us a memorial for pre-pandemic life and on the other, an act of radical self-determination: onward movement into the fiery flames of the future.”

Still from Wong Kar Wai’s ‘As Tears Go By,’ 1988. (BAMPFA)

Wong Kar Wai
BAMPFA and Roxie

Born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong, Wong Kar Wai exploded on the international scene in 1988 with As Tears Go By, a gritty gangster film suffused with unusual beauty and sensitivity. Genre filmmaking may have been WKW’s point of entry, but his métier was stylized, deeply felt melodramas full of gorgeous compositions, luscious clothes and beautiful stars like Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung.

From Days of Being Wild (1990) to In the Mood For Love (2000), WKW was the filmmaker of the 1990s. A touring retrospective in tandem with new high-definition restorations of his wondrous films was one of the year’s most anticipated events until the pandemic pushed it online. Take a big dip into his oeuvre via the Roxie’s World of Wong Kar Wai or BAMPFA’s Existence is Longing: Wong Kar Wai (through Feb. 28, 2021), and your holiday romance won’t be the same.

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