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3 Faces (Se rokh)

In this fascinating, tender-hearted road movie, famed Iranian actress Behnaz Jafari, playing herself, journeys from her latest film set to a remote village. She’s responding to a desperate video from a young woman who dreams of becoming an actress, but whose family won’t let her leave home. Encounters that are both whimsical and delightfully curious—an old woman who’s trying out her grave for size; a stud bull, the ultimate symbol of virility, that’s fallen and broken his leg—provide a thematic backdrop for this exploration of women and men, tradition and freedom of choice. And at the helm on this journey is Behnaz’s driver, director Jafar Pahani who, as he did in Taxi (MVFF 2015), takes the wheel as a character in his fourth film since Iran banned him from making movies in 2011. In storytelling that’s deceptively simple, Panahi creates a richly layered and eloquent journey—right down to the last image.
Fri, Oct 5 6:30 PM
Sat, Oct 6 8:15 PM
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5@5 Boho Dance

“A camera pans the cocktail hour behind a blind of potted palms and finds a lady in a Paris dress with runs in her nylons.” Join us for these tales of fierce and fallible women, told by a fabulous international collection of female storytellers. In Melanie Zoey Weinstein’s soulful Spanko (US 2018, 12 min), a woman finds a new portal of sexual expression. Two young women find their long-time friendship at a crossroads in Emma Weinstein’s poignant Candace (US 2017, 9 min). While on an urban jog, a woman is confronted with a shocking discovery and a dangerous choice in Clare Cooney’s Runner (US 2017, 13 min). In Oskar Resetti’s Tsar Bomba (Switzerland 2018, 14 min), a single mother is forced to confront the latent toxic masculinity that is under her own roof. On the verge of moving to the west, a wife must confront her personal demons in Nasim Kiani and Mostafa Mostafavi’s disturbing and heartbreaking Oculus (Iran 2018, 18 min). And, finally, in Giovana
Thu, Oct 11 9:15 PM
Fri, Oct 12 6:15 PM
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Los adioses

From Mexican filmmaker Natalia Beristáin (She Doesn’t Want to Sleep Alone) comes this riveting biopic of Rosario Castellanos, one of the most important literary voices to emerge from 20th century Mexico. As a young woman in postwar Mexico City, well-read university student Rosario (Tessa Ia The Burning Plain) transcends the era’s patriarchal society to grow into an influential poet and author. A volatile romance with her college sweetheart, Ricardo Guerra (Daniel Giménez Cacho, Zama), provides a personal avenue for her explorations of feminism and femininity, but the relationship grows tense as Rosario’s career blossoms, leaving her with a difficult choice. Beautifully shot, superbly acted, and immensely thoughtful, Los adioses is an engrossing drama and an insightful portrait of a writer’s life. Actress Karina Gidi (Abel), who plays the older Rosario, deservedly took home the Best Actress trophy at the Ariel Awards, Mexico’s equivalent of the Academy
Tue, Oct 9 8:45 PM
Thu, Oct 11 12:00 PM
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Alifu the Prince/ss

The struggle between upholding tradition and moving forward in the modern world is beautifully depicted in this heartfelt tale of the only son of an indigenous tribal leader in present day Taiwan. Alifu (newcomer Utjung Tjakivalid, who won a Best New Talent award at the Taipei Film Festival) lives in two worlds: In Taipei, she’s a hairdresser with a chosen family saving up to have sexual reassignment surgery; in rural Taitung, she’s still known as the son of the ailing tribal leader who is unaware of Alifu’s other life and wishes to pass the reigns onto his only son. With high production values and a number of sensational drag performances, Alifu, the Prince/ss intercuts the title character’s story with intersecting tales of romance among her chosen family, painting a diverse portrait of LGBTQ life in Taiwan and capturing the universal feeling of longing for love and connection, whether those feelings are reciprocated or not.
Sat, Oct 13 4:45 PM
Sun, Oct 14 2:15 PM
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All These Small Moments

Howie Sheffield's road to adulthood is off to a rocky start. His arm is in a cast. His parent's growing tension hangs heavy in their New York brownstone. And he's infatuated with an alluring mystery woman who rides the same bus as him. As the title suggests, All These Small Moments carefully curates episodes from Howie's turbulent family life, his precarious dealings at school, and the interactions he manages with the mysterious blonde on the bus. These moments feel innately human and fresh thanks to an understated approach from first-time director Melissa Miller Costanzo.
Sat, Oct 6 8:15 PM
Sun, Oct 7 8:45 PM
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Amalia the Secretary (Amalia la secretaria)

At the crossroads of stoicism and paranoia, a rigid, rather cranky, Type A secretary named Amalia (the hilarious Marcela Benjumea) begins to unravel as carefree repairman Lázaro (Enrique Carriazo) waltzes into her life, introducing her (and effectively filling up her meticulous daily planner) to a world of cumbia, yoga, and spontaneous flirtation. As the CEO she loyally serves weighs the pros and cons of suicide versus reporting failing numbers at an impending board meeting, Amalia must choose whether to invest her high-functioning administrative energy into saving the company or launching a joie de vivre startup for herself and Lázaro, instead. With a close eye for detail, director Andrés Burgos captures the universal language of awkward office passive aggression, complete with clinking pens and shuffling paperwork, while juxtaposing the quotidian Colombian life of caring for elderly parents, commuting to work, and frequenting the local discoteca.
Thu, Oct 11 6:15 PM
Fri, Oct 12 3:00 PM
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Any Wednesday/Two for Dinner: An Afternoon with Eleanor Coppola & Allie Light

Co-presented with SFFILM, esteemed Bay Area filmmakers Eleanor Coppola and Allie Light discuss their ventures into narrative cinema after decades as documentarians.
Sat, Oct 13 4:30 PM
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Art Paul of Playboy: The Man Behind the Bunny

For its first 30 years of publication, Playboy magazine’s eye-popping design and illustrations were the work of Art Paul, the graphic artist and trendsetter whose sketch of the iconic tuxedoed bunny came to define the brand. As Playboy’s founding art director, Paul’s visionary ideas and dedication to creative freedom were radical in the conservative 1950s, mixing fine art and pop art, and even experimenting with interactive graphics. Prolific in multiple art forms until his passing in 2018 at age 93, Paul was a renaissance man who, at the height of his influence, commissioned works from the likes of Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí. Director Jian Ping’s exuberant and heartfelt documentary peels back the curtain on the unsung innovator and visual architect of a national institution, whose creative contributions not only elevated the magazine’s caliber and reputation but helped usher in a new cultural revolution.
Fri, Oct 5 9:00 PM
Sat, Oct 6 5:00 PM
Tue, Oct 9 12:00 PM
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...As If They Were Angels

Two months after Pearl Harbor and the US entry into World War II, a pair of destroyers escorted a supply ship through the treacherous North Atlantic to a base in Newfoundland. A nasty storm, combined with an officer’s reluctance to trust his experienced navigator and newfangled radar, ran two of the ships aground on the rocks of adjacent coves. More than 200 sailors on the Pollux and the Truxton lost their lives, but nearly as many were rescued by local miners and townspeople. Director Terry Strauss, whose father was one of the survivors, plumbs a trove of photographs, documents, drawings, and interviews to recount a moving story of sacrifice, endurance, and heroism. The film hits an emotional peak with footage of the 1988 reunion between the American survivors and the Canadian townspeople who saved and cared for them. Peter Coyote narrates this remarkable saga with a blend of tender empathy and palpable amazement.
Sat, Oct 6 2:00 PM
Thu, Oct 11 2:30 PM
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Ash Is Purest White (Jiang hu er nv)

Revered Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke (Mountains May Depart) often chronicles the seismic cultural and political shifts in his homeland through his thoughtful, meticulous dramas. Ash Is Purest White is no different, blending a rich character study with a gangster epic while examining how the passage of time asserts itself on both individuals and societies. The film focuses on Qiao (Zhao Tao, the director’s wife and frequent collaborator), who’s devoted to her gangster boyfriend—so much so that she takes the rap for him on a gun charge. Five years later, Qiao is released from prison and tries to pick up the pieces of her old life, only to discover that much of the outside world has changed. Zhao is superb in the lead, bringing emotional shading and a quiet steeliness to a gangster epic that veers brilliantly from the surreal to the melancholy. You may never hear “Y.M.C.A.” the same way again.
Sun, Oct 7 7:30 PM
Sun, Oct 14 11:00 AM
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Bathtubs Over Broadway

This joyous romp through a musical history you never knew existed will have you singing along to discarded musical masterpieces that were, in their time, even bigger than Broadway. Comedy writer Steve Young rarely felt compelled to pursue hobbies outside of his happy 25-year career on The Late Show with David Letterman. Little did he know that the Late Show segment “Dave’s Record Collection” would lead him to discover an almost entirely secret golden age of mid-20th century industrial musicals, an entertaining and engaging world of lavish Broadway-style shows. Dava Whisenant’s directorial debut accompanies Young in his quest to not only build the definitive record collection of these eccentric gems, but also to connect with equally obsessive collectors (Sport Murphy, Jello Biafra, Don Bolles), as well as the talented collaborators, both known (Martin Short, Chita Rivera, Florence Henderson) and unknown, who provided their ample talents to these idiosyncratic theatrical de
Thu, Oct 11 2:30 PM2:30 PM
Sat, Oct 13 5:30 PM
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Becoming Astrid (Unga Astrid)

Before there was Pippi (Longstocking), there was the talented journalist and aspiring writer, Astrid Lindgren. And prior to her emergence as a beloved, world-renowned children’s author, there was the free-spirited Astrid Ericsson (Alba August, A Serious Game, MVFF 2016), a small-town teenager bursting with anarchic energy, doing the Charleston by herself at the village dance. This superb coming-of-age narrative connects the dots between Lindgren’s most famous character, Pippi, and her own remarkable defiance of social norms, as a fiercely independent-minded career woman and unwed mother, by choice. Astrid’s restless curiosity leads her into, and out of, an affair with her married boss—and the resulting pregnancy left-turns the film from biopic territory into a taut drama about the struggles of single motherhood in 1920s Sweden. Gorgeously shot (the camera is always hurrying after Astrid, trying to catch up), the storytelling is swift and understated, perfectly suited to the pion
Thu, Oct 11 6:00 PM
Fri, Oct 12 2:00 PM
Sat, Oct 13 2:30 PM
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Ben Is Back

Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges command the screen in Oscar®-nominated writer-director Peter Hedges’ riveting family drama. With touches of suspense and surprise throughout, Ben Is Back traces the 24 hours of a teenage prodigal son’s return to his family’s home from his sober living community for Christmas.
Fri, Oct 12 6:00 PM
Sun, Oct 14 8:00 PM
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Bias

A thought-provoking (and blood-pressure-spiking) documentary precisely matched to this moment of political and social upheaval, bias takes an incisive look at the nature of unconscious human bias and its long-reaching effects on social, professional, and cultural norms. Filmmaker Robin Hauser (CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap, MVFF 2015, Audience Award) dives deep into the science and sociology around implicit bias and searches for answers as to how we can de-bias our brains. Beginning with the personal, Hauser takes—and is stunned by the results of—the Harvard-based Implicit Association Test (IAT). She then casts a wide net to explore how modern science, technology, and woke individuals and businesses are working to reveal, understand, and reshape the forces of bias that have ruled for too long. An energetic mix of interviews, experiments, data, and pop culture clips shed light on a fascinating topic that touches everyone, no matter how free of bias we believe ourselves t
Sun, Oct 7 2:30 PM
Sat, Oct 13 2:00 PM
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Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano)

Directors Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra (the luminous, Academy Award®-nominated Embrace of the Serpent, MVFF 2015) seamlessly blend gorgeous cinematography in the breathtaking wilderness of the Guajira desert and an atmospheric soundtrack to depict the escalating power struggle between two Wayuu clans in this drama based on an incredible and surprising true story that feels as timeless as a Shakespearean tragedy. During Colombia’s marijuana boom in the 1970s, a Wayuu family is torn between upholding indigenous values of aligned word and deed and amassing money, guns, and power. Prodigal son Rapayet (José Acosta) and seer matriarch Ursula (Carmiña Martínez) try to have it both ways, teetering back and forth between tradition and profits. As the feud escalates and the families grow away from their customs—honoring their ancestors and living a spiritual life—in the increasingly modern world, the film barrels toward an explosive, surprising climax.
Wed, Oct 10 3:30 PM
Thu, Oct 11 8:30 PM
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Bushwick Beats

What do a single mother with ALS, a vampire, and two lovers stuck in separate timelines have in common? What about an aspiring young graffiti artist, a middle-aged widow, and a teenage poet? Though their paths don’t always cross, their lives unfold in Brooklyn's vibrantly multicultural neighborhood of Bushwick, which becomes a distinctive character that ties these six diverse shorts together. The street art, cramped apartment quarters, and sprawling rooftop views characteristic of Bushwick help give these otherwise stylistically disparate stories a sense of visual continuity, as the characters take on challenges that may otherwise be insurmountable if it weren’t for the power of unconditional love. At times poignant and at others absurd and comical, Bushwick Beats speaks to the resilience of the human spirit. This thrilling omnibus feature boasts a roster of diverse, up-and-coming NYC filmmakers, including Sundance Film Festival award winner Anu Valia
Sun, Oct 7 4:30 PM
Mon, Oct 8 9:00 PM
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Can You Ever Forgive Me?

SPOTLIGHT: When her once-lucrative career as a journalist and celebrity biographer hits hard times, Lee Israel (a marvelous Melissa McCarthy) discovers a new avenue for her literary skills that will help pay her mounting bills: the specialized art form (and criminal enterprise) of forging witty and salacious personal letters from the likes of Noël Coward and Dorothy Parker and selling them to collectors. With a penchant for rubbing people the wrong way and an unmistakable preference for cats over humans, Israel finds kinship in fellow outsider and streetwise British dandy Jack (a resplendently reprobate Richard E. Grant), and together they become partners in crime. Adapted from Israel’s memoir of the same name and co-scripted by Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), the sophomore feature from Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) offers a humorous and moving portrait of a dynamic oddball couple and their engaging misadventures in early 1990s New York City.
Wed, Oct 10 6:30 PM
Sat, Oct 13 11:30 AM
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Capernaum (Capharnaüm)

A 12-year-old boy, Zain, sues his parents in court: Asked why, he replies, “For giving me life.” Director Nadine Labaki’s (Caramel, MVFF 2007) deeply moving film opens our eyes—and our hearts—to the plight of the dispossessed, notably children. Zain runs away when his parents sell his beloved sister into marriage; life on the street pushes his resourcefulness to the limits. Meeting Rahil, an Ethiopian woman without papers, he babysits her (adorable) toddler while she works. Until, one day, she doesn’t return. As Zain, real-life Syrian refugee Zain Al Rafeea is extraordinary, an old soul in a wise-child body. Using nonprofessional actors whose personal backgrounds mirror what we see onscreen (think, Salaam Bombay!), Labaki is “trying to understand how the system fails these kids.” In doing so, she addresses one of the most pressing humanitarian issues worldwide, doing so with compassion rather than blame. It’s a profound achievement that received a Jury Prize at Cannes.
Sat, Oct 13 8:15 PM
Sun, Oct 14 1:30 PM
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