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SFIndieFest, celebrating its Sweet 16 with a prom. That is in addition to the annual Roller Disco Party, on February 7, which precedes The Big Lebowski celebration of screening and Lebowski-themed party on February 15. This is the original, and it has spawned two other now indispensable film festivals in The City: Doc Fest and Another Hole in the Head, the latter dedicated to cult and genre films. All have music components, because founder Jeff Ross wants them to have it, not because he is copying what other festivals do. He doesn’t attempt draw even a tangential line between the two art forms. They are together in his festivals because it’s fun, and before any other consideration, Ross insists that a good time is had by all. Even when seeing films that are less than joyful. SFIndie promises, and delivers, films that are independent, alternative and subversive.
This insouciance about the status quo is what I like best about these festivals, that and the fact that Ross insisted on showing the original PARANORMAL ACTIVITY even after Paramount tried to stop him after buying the remake rights. The great thing about operating a festival on the margins is that if someone did want to sue, they would not get a whole lot for their trouble. I am still convinced that it was Ross’ decision that nipped the idea of Paramount’s remake in the bud, and if for nothing else, I will be eternally grateful to Ross and his festival.
There are always more films than can be encapsulated easily, so I have picked three to share, and encourage you to check out the link to the festival program. I encourage you even more strongly to pick a film at random and be surprised, perhaps appalled, but anything but bored.
I love a film that makes me ask “what the heck was that” and then sticks in my mind as I parse it for hours, even days afterwards. And thus is SFIndie’s opening night film, THE CONGRESS, Ari Folman’s adaptation of Stanislasw Lem’s novel, a dreamlike concretion of live-action and anime that takes on youth culture, mindless media, and the fabric of reality itself. Best of all, it dumb itself down, clipping along and cajoling us to keep up with what it going on.
At the other end of the spectrum, but also a perfect example of what this festival is about, is Rona Mark’s OBJECTS ATTACK. Impudently original, and giddy in its exploitation of its micro-budget to give us a taste of what made the first generation of underground filmmaking feel so raw and revolutionary. It charts the rocky course of its heroine, Lovey, a woman who has ripped the fabric of the cosmos resulting in a life of mismatched socks, and household objects turning on her. It is visually adventurous and philosophically piquant.
From the doc part of the spectrum comes HANK: FIVE YEARS FROM THE BRINK, a cogent and chilling examination of the financial meltdown of a few years back, and how Hank Paulson, a Wall Street insider who deplored the financial system there, turned Secretary of the Treasury and dealt with a no-win situation to save the economy, and Wall Street. Directed by Joe Berlinger, whose previous incisive work includes CRUDE and the PARADISE LOST trilogy about the West Memphis Three.
Click here to find more films, to buy tickets, and to plan your next week or so around parties, films, and music.