San Francisco International Film Festival kicks off April 9, features both live events and streaming programs

'Naked Singularity' starring John Boyega, directed by Chase Palmer
'Naked Singularity' starring John Boyega, directed by Chase Palmer

In addition to being the longest-running film festival in the Americas, the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM Festival) is, per organizers, “a showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country’s most beautiful cities.”

The 64th edition runs April 9–18 with both live events and streaming programs, and features a drive-in venue, juried awards with cash prizes, and an extensive roster of filmmaker guests.

Featuring 103 films, the festival includes both online and in-person events, with digital screenings being hosted through the SFFILM website and live screenings and performances at the Fort Mason Flix drive-in theater. The 2021 Festival will run April 9–18, with tickets and streaming passes on sale at sffilm.org.

Like many festivals and events during the pandemic we’re told the online elements of this year’s re-imagined SFFILM Festival have been designed to allow new ways for audiences to connect digitally with artists and other festival-goers through the SFFILM website. These opportunities include filmmaker talks and Q&A’s, online festival and film parties and industry networking events, along with artist and audience mixers.

The Festival’s diverse film lineup is composed of 42 feature films, 56 short films, and five mid-length films, a new category. Thirteen films will be making their world premiere with an additional 15 making their North American premiere. The lineup includes films from 41 countries around the world. Among the full Festival lineup, 57% of the films were helmed by female filmmakers and 57% by BIPOC filmmakers.

Things kick off April 9 with the world premiere screening of Naked Singularity from director Chase Palmer. Shown online and at the drive-in, the film stars John Boyega and Olivia Cooke, and focuses on an impassioned public defender (Boyega) who stumbles into a drug heist while his reality collapses around him.

The Festival centerpiece film will be Bo McGuire’s Socks on Fire. Making its North American premiere, the documentary tells a story from the filmmaker’s life, exploring old family wounds between his homophobic aunt and drag queen uncle. It will be shown both online and at a live drive-in event on April 10, with the in-person screening accompanied by a drag show featuring local performers and emceed by director Bo McGuire.

‘Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street’ (2021). Director: Marilyn Angrelo

The Festival will wrap up April 18 with both online and drive-in screenings of Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street. This fascinating documentary delves into the origins of the beloved children’s show. With humor, never-before-seen footage, and special guests, Street Gang explores the ongoing emotional resonance of the Sesame Street series.

A documentary on Rita Moreno’s 70 years in show business (Just A Girl Who Decided to Go for It); a portrait of a Turkish-German radical feminist lawyer (Seyran Ates: Sex, Revolution and Islam); a loving relationship set against the backdrop of civil war (Skies of Lebanon); and forbidden love in Mexico (Dance of the 41) are among the many entries in this year’s SFFilm Festival.

Jeanne is a published poet and essayist. She holds degrees from Wayne State University and the University of San Francisco. Jeanne has taught in the CS, UB and OLLI programs at universities in the City. Her books in print include MY OWN SILENCE and WORD DANCING from Taurean Horn Press.
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