Now Playing! SF Alums and Urban Film Fest Find the Connective Threads

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Christina Rimbaldi as Christine in Svetlana Cvenko's 'Show Me What You Got.' (Courtesy Double Take Pictures, Inc.)

This week’s offerings commemorate the intersection of Valentine’s Day and Black History Month with an overlap of class reunion.

Show Me What You Got
Feb. 12, 14–15
VOD

Svetlana Cvetko lives in L.A. and shoots all over the world, but her roots as a filmmaker are in the Bay Area. After gravitating to San Francisco from the former Yugoslavia several years ago, Cvetko took film classes and turned her eye from photography to cinematography. She was a quick study, making narrative shorts while shooting local docs like Charles Ferguson’s Oscar-winning Inside Job, Jacob Kornbluth’s Inequality for All and Jason Cohen’s Silicon Cowboys.

Cvetko’s wonderful and wise second feature as a director, Show Me What You Got, is infused with an L.A. vibe filtered through the French New Wave. Shot by Cvetko in joyous, handheld black-and-white, the movie depicts a ménage à trois between a barista-slash-artist (Cristina Rambaldi), the son of an Italian TV soaps star (Mattia Minasi) and a would-be actor (Neyssan Falahi) postponing his return to Tehran.

A seductive yet mature study of love, freedom and responsibility, Show Me What You Got returns for a virtual run after screening at the Mill Valley Film Festival in 2019. Play dates are limited, so hurry and schedule your play date (pun intended).

Still from Lynne Sachs' 'Film About A Father Who.' (Courtesy of the Roxie)

The Films of Lynne Sachs
Opens Feb. 12
Roxie Virtual Cinema

“This is not a portrait,” states Lynne Sachs, near the end of Film About a Father Who, after the last in a string of revelations. “This is not a self-portrait. This is my reckoning with the conundrum of our asymmetry.” Shot on a procession of film and video formats from 1965 though 2019, Sachs’ fascinating new film isn’t therapy, either.

Sachs studied and made films in San Francisco from the mid-’80s through the mid-’90s, bridging the experimental film and documentary worlds. Several of her pioneering works from that period, including The House of Science: a museum of false facts (1991), are included in the Roxie’s accompanying shorts program “Inquiries Into Self and Others.” A second collection, “Profiles in Courage,” showcases Sachs’ recent work, including A Month of Single Frames (for Barbara Hammer).

Sachs’s films are, generally, intentionally unpolished, willfully undercutting the popular presumption that the job of documentaries is to provide answers. Film About a Father Who excavates her (now-elderly) dad’s messy, lifelong love life through a pastiche of loose ends, unanswered questions and unresolved emotions. The film imperceptibly gets deeper and darker as it goes, ultimately amassing the power of an indictment.

Still from Irene Gustafson's 'reimagining the city, as our own.' (ABD Productions)

SF Urban Film Fest
Feb. 14–21
Online

Film festivals continue to test and tweak virtual models, trying to conjure the group experience of live screenings and the connective threads of community. The first is a hard nut for anyone—even Sundance—to crack. This year’s SF Urban Film Fest, though, has mastered the second challenge, of bringing people together online to brainstorm on issues and seed solutions.

The theme of this year’s edition is “Wisdom Lives in Places,” which evokes the street-level experience and expertise on offer in the films as well as the accompanying panel discussions. The program “People-Led Solutions: Models of our Shared Future” centers on evictions and homelessness and features local filmmaker Irene Gustafson’s collaboration with the Tenderloin ensemble Skywatchers, reimagining the city, as our own. An inspiring group of activists and advocates convenes after the film program.

Who can resist an event called “Times Like These: An Inflection Point for Food & Our Cities”? The film component includes Aaron Lim, Anson Ho’s uplifting short doc about a young man doing his part and more to keep Chinatown restaurants going through the pandemic. The diverse group talking turkey following the films includes La Cocina Program Director Geetika Agrawal. Bring your wisdom; join the conversation.