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37 Seconds

Overprotected by her mother and exploited by her wannabe influencer cousin who claims Yuma’s drawings as her own, 23-year-old Yuma, an aspiring artist with cerebral palsy, craves a life of her own making. Played by disabled actress Mei Kayama in her triumphant screen debut, Yuma craves a bigger life where she can explore her sexuality, not shaped or limited by her disabled body. Though soft-spoken, Yuma has a spark of inner steel which reveals itself as she draws her fictional erotic manga, Hana and the Lusts of Time. Through her art, we’re privy to her inner world, a vast panorama beyond the vantage point of her wheelchair. Winner of several awards at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, 37 Seconds is an odyssey of discovery, involving love hotels, kind sex workers, and drag queens—a journey humorous and absurd but also deeply human and joyful. Tokyo’s skyline, through Yuma’s eyes, is a character unto itself, guiding her to realization and triumph.
Thu, Oct 10 6:00 PM
Fri, Oct 11 11:00 AM
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39½

Kara (Beth Lisick) is living her dream—making films and leading a rich, satisfying life in San Francisco, surrounded by art and friends. But as thirtysomething turns into almost 40, the ticking of her biological clock—and Mom’s phone calls—spur Kara into a last-ditch attempt to have it all. Director Kara Herold takes this oft-examined feminist trope and gives it an inventive spin in her quirky auto-fiction, which combines animation and absurdist comedy to narrate Kara’s pursuit of the holy triumvirate: career, kids, and romance. Bay Area literary celeb Lisick is goofily right as Kara, demonstrating a flair for physical comedy whether running through town with a big box of sperm or struggling into the lotus position in a pair of tight vinyl pants. Yet underneath the hilarity, this meta-movie, which features a film about Kara within a film about Kara by a director named Kara, poses serious questions about what it means to be a woman artist in the 21st century.
Sat, Oct 5 5:30 PM
Sun, Oct 13 5:30 PM
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Amateurs (Amatörer)

The picturesque Swedish town of Lafors has fallen on hard times: Once a thriving center of leather and textile production, outsourcing has shuttered the factories. In addition, the community’s demographics are changing: Immigrants, refugees, and the homeless are now part of the face of Lafors. To stimulate the job market, the town council decides to entice SuperBilly, a German cut-price superstore, into opening an outlet in Lafors. When councilman Musse enlists the help of high schoolers to create a promo film, the results are so hilariously bad that the town recruits a filmmaker from Stockholm. His efforts to portray the town as a bucolic Scandinavian paradise backfire badly, so plucky teenage BFFs Aida and Dana decide to take matters into their own hands, with surprising results. At once light-hearted and socially prescient, this delightfully charming and thought-provoking film is a meditation on globalism, the power of film, and what it means to "represent."
Fri, Oct 4 6:30 PM
Wed, Oct 9 9:00 PM
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Animals

Laura (Holliday Grainger, Tell It to the Bees) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat, Arrested Development) are the sort of best friends who have no use for boundaries. They share clothes, an apartment, and a love of drinking and "medicating" their way into Dublin’s boho-chic demimonde. Still, all that hedonism isn’t helping Laura finish her novel. When the twentysomething writer gets engaged to a promising concert pianist, she must choose between a life where the fun never stops and a world where she has to act like a—gasp!—grown-up. A Withnail & I for millennials, Sophie Hyde’s adaptation of Emma Jane Unsworth's bestseller nails that fraught moment when the curtain comes down on the party of youth and you’re unsure what comes next. But it’s the way the killer double act of Grainger (on simmer) and Shawkat (on the boil and beautifully incendiary) captures the ebb and flow of female friendships—from late-night revelry to take-no-prisoners truth-telling—that makes Animals
Wed, Oct 9 8:15 PM
Fri, Oct 11 8:30 PM
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Aurora

Hard-partying, commitment-phobic nail technician Aurora is true to her name: at once luminous and dark, beautiful and bound to burn out quickly. She pinballs through life in icy Lapland without a plan more concrete than moving to Norway to administer colonics, bouncing from karaoke bar to dance party to friends’ couches and back again, and getting ejected from a strip club for trying to incite a feminist riot. Then, in an unorthodox romcom twist, she meets-not-so-cute with Iranian asylum seeker Darian and discovers her purpose: to find him a wife so he can stay in Finland with his young daughter. Meanwhile, soulful Darian starts to assimilate to his new surroundings, including a few hilarious attempts at mastering the Finnish culture of sauna bathing. But will he settle for a fake spouse and stop running for his life, and will Aurora keep running away from herself? Winner of the Best International Feature at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Fri, Oct 11 5:30 PM
Sat, Oct 12 11:45 AM
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Blue Hour

Japanese director Yuko Hakota's sincere and touching debut full-length feature follows Sunada (Kaho, a Japanese TV darling who also co-starred in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister), a 30-year-old TV commercial director whose work and home lives leave something to be desired. With her quirky best friend Kiyoura (Korean actress Shim Eun-kyung) who fancies herself an amateur chanteuse, she embarks on a road trip from Tokyo to her childhood home in the countryside of Ibaraki. In a setting that's both familiar and changed, Sunada and Kiyoura reimagine themselves and consider how one's childhood shapes a person. Full of gorgeous color thanks to cinematographer Ryûto Kondô (Shoplifters, MVFF 2018), Blue Hour is a visual treat which evenly blends awkwardly funny scenes with emotionally stirring drama in this remarkable coming-of-age-in-your-30s tale.
Sat, Oct 5 2:45 PM
Thu, Oct 10 9:15 PM
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The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

Based on a true life incident, this indelible character study intimately wraps us into the lives of Áila (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, who also co-wrote and directed alongside Kathleen Hepburn) and Rosie (Violet Nelson, in a moving debut performance), two Indigenous Canadian women who have been dealt very different hands in life.
Sat, Oct 5 8:30 PM
Mon, Oct 7 6:00 PM
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Carmilla

Based on a 19th-century gothic novel (pre-dating Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 30 years), this evocative and supernaturally-inflected coming-of-age tale combines the beauty, gruesomeness, and inevitability of nature with a young girl’s burgeoning sexuality. Lara (Hannah Rae, Broadchurch), an isolated teenager, certainly earns the frequent palm whackings from her stern governess, Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine, Call the Midwife). Fascinated with the macabre, Lara borrows "forbidden" anatomy books from her father’s study and uses her left hand to eat despite the governess' admonitions. When a carriage overturns on the road outside the estate, its injured occupant, the spirited and sensuous young Carmilla, takes up residence in the home for her recuperation. Lara develops a growing obsession with the enigmatic houseguest, and strange events unfold. When Lara falls mysteriously ill in the same manner as other girls in the region, suspicions turn to Carmilla as the source of t
Mon, Oct 7 9:00 PM
Tue, Oct 8 11:30 AM
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Cherry Blossoms & Demons (Kirschblüten & Dämonen)

For downtrodden and alcohol-dependent Karl (Golo Euler), everything in his life seems to be going wrong—he loses his job, separates from his wife and child, and is still unable to grieve his parents’ deaths. He doesn’t know where to turn until a mysterious dancer from his late father’s past named Yu (Aya Irizuki) magically arrives on his doorstep. Unexpectedly, Yu begins to help Karl confront his demons (both literal and figurative) and start to heal in this surreal, whimsical dramedy. Celebrated German filmmaker Doris Dörrie (who won the Audience Award at MVFF 2016 for Greetings from Fukushima) continues to explore the process of reckoning with our spirits across different cultures. In this sweet-spirited sequel to her award-winning 2008 film Cherry Blossoms, Dörrie continues the moving stories of her lively characters, bringing the great Birgit Minichmayr, Hannelore Elsner, Felix Eitner, and Elmar Wepper back as Karl's charming family. Don’t miss a special cameo by Hiro
Mon, Oct 7 6:00 PM
Tue, Oct 8 8:30 PM
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Chuskit

Chuskit tells the triumphant story of a physically disabled girl in rural India whose circumstances derail her dream of going to school. Nevertheless, she persists! Inspired by true events, this fictional tale centers on Chuskit, whose vibrant early childhood is marked by energetic play and an eager thirst for learning. Partially paralyzed in an accident, Chuskit, now age 9, spends her days at home under the watchful eye of her loving but disapproving grandfather (played with tender gravity by renowned folk musician Morup Namgyal) who demands adherence to tradition and discourages her aspirations. Undaunted, Chuskit pursues a series of schemes with the help of her brother and friends, as well as the city doctor who brings her a sleek wheelchair that gives her newfound freedom. Chuskit is an authentic ode to girl power that offers a fascinating glimpse into a modern culture so different from our own, where the internet hasn’t yet landed but the value of connection is prize
Sat, Oct 5 4:45 PM
Sat, Oct 12 12:30 PM
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Clemency

TRIBUTE TO ALFRE WOODARD: A death penalty story that doubles as a devastating character study, writer-director Chinonye Chukwu’s extraordinary drama—the well-deserved Grand Prize winner at Sundance—opens with Warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard in a subtle tour-de-force performance) presiding over the execution of a convict. A seasoned professional with a dozen executions to her name, Bernadine remains unfazed and collected. However, with her life at home with her husband (Wendell Pierce, The Wire) feeling hollow, her off-hours are spent drinking until she’s numb. Her life’s routine becomes irrevocably disrupted by the arrival of the next death row inmate—a man named Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge, Hidden Figures) who is convicted of killing a cop and swears by his innocence—which sends Bernadine toward her inevitable breaking point. Hardly a social justice handwringer, the film expertly examines the moral toll capital punishment takes on everyone involved.
Sun, Oct 6 5:00 PM
Mon, Oct 7 4:00 PM
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The Conductor (De dirigent)

Feminist icon Antonia Brico, for those not (yet!) familiar with her, was the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic. Internationally acclaimed for her work with the Berlin Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, and her own Women’s Symphony Orchestra, the story of Brico’s rise from poverty to prominence in her field is truly extraordinary. Director Maria Peters' cinematically stunning and inspirational biopic tells the tale of a defiant and determined Dutch working-class immigrant (and SF Bay Area transplant) in the early 20th century. Raised by a stern and tradition-bound foster family, Brico must choose between her passion to train as an orchestra conductor—unimaginable for a woman of her time—and the comforts and constraints of traditional gender roles and functions. With galvanizing performances by Christianne de Bruijn (as Brico) and Scott Turner Schofield (as Antonia’s dedicated friend and confidant), this unforgettable drama brings Brico’s story to life with vibrant
Sat, Oct 5 2:00 PM
Sun, Oct 6 8:00 PM
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De Lo Mio

Two sisters from the US journey to Santiago, Dominican Republic, to reunite with their estranged brother and clear out their grandmother’s house in this affecting family drama. The island nation is not just the story’s backdrop but also its cultural core as the family races against a looming deadline to the clear the property for sale. The house becomes a center of tension, amplified by the past, family dynamics, and cultural differences between the high-spirited, New York-raised sisters, Rita (Sasha Merci) and Carolina (Darlene Demorizi), and older, more serious Dante (Héctor Aníbal), who stayed behind in the Dominican Republic. As the siblings navigate their complex relationship what develops is a thoughtful portrait of what it means to grow up and let go. Diana Peralta’s stunning debut film is a beautiful meditation on familial ties, third culture struggles, and how we define where home is.
Fri, Oct 11 6:15 PM
Sat, Oct 12 7:30 PM
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The Dog Doc

In a small Westchester town, the unassuming offices of Smith Ridge Veterinary Center are a last hope for many of the animals that walk through its doors. The practice is the vision of Dr. Marty Goldstein, a pioneer of integrative veterinary medicine who has built a career on treating beloved pets, particularly dogs, holistically for 45 years. Goldstein boldly goes against the grain of conventional medicine by incorporating alternative therapies and cutting-edge techniques, combining the best of Eastern and Western treatments. The result is a haven for humans and their canine companions other vets have deemed beyond hope. Sundance Award winner Cindy Meehl (Buck) followed Goldstein and his patients for nearly three years, charting ups and downs and joy and heartbreak along the way. The Dog Doc is an admiring portrait that showcases the high stakes and dedication of veterinarian work while posing serious questions about conventional veterinary practices and how they might be
Fri, Oct 4 5:00 PM
Mon, Oct 7 11:30 AM
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A First Farewell (Di yi ci de li bie)

Meet Isa, Kalbinur, and Alinaz—three free-spirited Muslim Uighur children whose ordinary lives in rural China (where they only speak their native Uyghur language) are disrupted by the increasingly strict enforcement of Mandarin language education. Played with heartbreaking sincerity by nonprofessional actors, this trio is the soul of writer-director Lina Wang's beautifully crafted debut feature, the winner of the Crystal Bear, the top prize for youth-focused titles at the Berlin International Film Festival. A quietly subversive film that avoids direct mention of the hot-button issues faced by the ethnic minority Uighurs, A First Farewell offers a perfect balance of hardship, joy, connection, and loss. The story follows the children and their families through a year of changing seasons and growing tension as the education policy begins to affect the community and ultimately leads to difficult choices for everyone. Emotionally gripping and gorgeously filmed, this heartwarming feat
Fri, Oct 11 8:00 PM
Sun, Oct 13 11:00 AM
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Flatland

Jenna Bass's third feature is an exuberant roller coaster ride through classic film genres: a female-centered action-packed road movie set against a vivid Western-style South African backdrop. Say what?! Natalie is a recently married Black South African forced to go on the lam after she kills someone in self-defense. Joining up with her BFF from childhood Poppie (in late-stage pregnancy and looking for some thrills), the two head for the hills via South Africa's semi-desert Karoo region, pursued by a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners Cape Town detective named Beauty Cuba who has secrets, and a mission, of her own.
Thu, Oct 10 6:00 PM
Sat, Oct 12 2:00 PM
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Flesh Out

Verida discovers she’s soon to be married when her mother awakens her early one morning with two huge bowls of food and commands that she eat. It’s 21st-century Mauritania and the beginning of the gavage, the months before a wedding when brides must put on prodigious amounts of weight in order to appeal to their husbands. Italian director Michela Occhipinti’s documentary roots are evident in this beautifully evocative portrait of a young girl straining to meet her family’s expectations against her body’s own will. Striking imagery and poetic sequences draw us into Verida’s intimate circle populated by women with their own complicated relationship to the custom—from those who enforce it, sometimes brutally, to the few who manage to defy it. Occhipinti adapts the real-life story of one such bride (Verida Beitta Ahmed Deiche, playing herself), for a sensitive and stunningly photographed fiction feature debut—the story of a young woman who refuses to conform to the norm.
Wed, Oct 9 6:00 PM
Fri, Oct 11 2:00 PM
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Fresh & Fearless

They may be small. They may be young. But that doesn’t keep any of these inspiring girls from dreaming big, standing strong, or taking chances.
Sat, Oct 5 2:00 PM
Sun, Oct 13 11:15 AM
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