Film buffs in New York and Paris have the great good fortune that every worthwhile film made in the world in the course of a year comes through their town for at least one show. (This poses a great challenge to filmgoers, needless to say.) The Bay Area is right behind, thanks to our plethora of independent festivals. The old joke is that there's a festival hereabouts every weekend; this month, that's true. San Jose's Cinequest is already in mid-swing as March begins, and continues through March 11. In San Francisco, meanwhile, the Roxie cracks open the vault for a week of underexposed early-1930s movies, Hollywood Before the Code: Nasty-Ass Films for a Nasty-Ass World (March 2-8). And that's just the beginning. Ready, set, action!
Taste the Waste
San Francisco Green Film Festival: The second annual edition of this idealistic social-issue-slash-cultural event, running March 1-7, offers moving evidence that filmmakers in every country are galvanized by the state of the environment. Of course, global = local at this crucial point in the planet's well being. In Taste the Waste (Tuesday, March 6, 5:30pm, San Francisco Film Society Cinema), German director Valentin Thum's shocking exposé of the vast amount of food assured of rotting by our system of food production and distribution, speaks to all of us. For tickets and information visit sfgreenfilmfest.org.
Pink Ribbons, Inc.
Injustice and its correctives propels the 2012 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, unspooling on Thursday nights throughout March at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Swiss-Canadian filmmaker Léa Pool's investigation of breast-cancer fundraising, Pink Ribbons, Inc. (Thursday, March 29, 7pm & 9pm, YBCA), will be of particular interest to those galvanized by last month's Susan G. Komen For the Cure decision to defund Planned Parenthood. For more information visit www.ybca.org.
Sun Beaten Path
San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival: A different Asian country stakes a claim every year to being the hottest spot in world cinema, with Hong Kong, South Korea and China holding the mantle recently. Any of the imports (and most of the American indies) in the 30th annual festival is well worth a look, but I'm especially attracted to Sun Beaten Path (Saturday, March 10, 8:30pm, Pacific Film Archive; Sunday, March 11, 4:30pm, Sundance Kabuki), a picturesque Chinese drama about a guilt-ridden, grief-stricken young Tibetan on a redemptive pilgrimage. The SFIAAFF runs March 8-18 in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose. For tickets and information visit caamedia.org.
The Fifth Heaven
East Bay Jewish Film Festival: My strategy with this surprisingly ambitious program, unspooling March 10-18, is to hone in on the Israeli films receiving their Bay Area premieres. How convenient, then, that the 2011 dramas Ahoti Ha'Yafah (My Beautiful Sister) and The Fifth Heaven play back-to-back on March 13. For tickets and information visit eastbayjewishfilm.org.
Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance
San Francisco Dance Film Festival: The movies and dancing are a natural combination; films were originally called "motion pictures," after all. This ethereal bash opens March 15 at the Delancey Screening Room with the S.F. premiere of Ron Honsa's documentary about the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Never Stand Still, with the director on hand, and lowers the curtain March 18 at the S.F. Film Society Cinema with the local debut of Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance accompanied by director Bob Hercules and an array of ballet luminaries. For tickets and information visit sfdancefilmfest.org.
Disposable Film Festival: Dance is the most ephemeral of the arts, but personal digital video -- shot on cellphones, iPads, webcams and the like -- is arguably more immediate, and just as fleeting. This youth-oriented fest opens Thursday, March 22 with a program of short films at the Castro and continues throughout the weekend with free panels, seminars and screenings downtown at Hotel Rex and in the Mission at Typekit's HQ. Cameras have replaced journals and diaries for a sizable number of teens and tweens. One day soon, everyone will be ready for his or her close-up. For tickets and information visit disposablefilmfest.com.