Doing justice: Filmmakers Roberto Hern ndez (left) and Martha Sosa, with SFFS's Miguel Pend s, answer questions about Presumed Guilty, which will be released theatrically in Mexico and will air on PBS in July.

San Francisco International's Local Filmmakers Next Step

Michael Fox May 6, 2010

The San Francisco International Film Festival enjoys rarefied status among Bay Area filmgoers, and local filmmakers certainly cherish the chance to showcase the fruits of their labors to the hometown crowd. (And to complete strangers, truth be told.) But there’s a wealth of stops on the festival circuit, and it’s never too early to map out the next city, event or screen. We caught up with several Bay Area makers, fresh off their high-energy screenings at SFIFF53 and primed to keep the momentum rolling.

Sam Green, whose Utopia in Four Movements was one of the highlights of the provocative Live & Onstage sidebar, is about to go rock star on us. He’s taking his live documentary on the road, with sound artist (and co-director) Dave Cerf plus the Brooklyn-based ambient rockers Quavers along for the ride.

“Our plans are just to continue doing it live until we can’t stand to do it anymore,” he writes in an email. “Next month we have shows at the Seattle and L.A. film festivals and Silverdocs [in Washington, D.C.]. I’m currently booking shows through January of 2011. Doing a lot of film festivals, but also museums (the Wexner Centter in Ohio in the fall) and even performance spaces. We are going to do three nights at the Kitchen in NYC in October.”

Joshua Grannell, whose alter ego Peaches Christ blew the roof off the Castro before the sold-out world premiere of All About Evil Saturday night, is also primed to share a little San Francisco treat with the rest of America. The Peaches philosophy is to mount a glitzy stage show before the feature, which suits his shameless horror comedy to a T.

“We just worked out a deal with Landmark [Theatres] to do 20-plus markets with our event-based screenings at cities across the country,” Grannell says. “We’ll also be adding non-Landmark markets as well. On May 15, we begin the tour at Austin’s legendary Alamo Drafthouse.”

Everything is bigger in Texas, and you can bet your favorite wig that Peaches will use that double entendre at least once on the Alamo stage. Texas, of course, is somewhere in the vicinity of Mexico, where the events in Roberto Hern ndez and Geoffrey Smith’s riveting doc Presumed Guilty take place.

The Golden Gate Award-winner for Bay Area Feature Documentary is slated for a theatrical release in the country where it unfolds, a very big deal given its exposure of Mexico’s breathtakingly corrupt justice system. Keep an eye peeled for news stories detailing any high-level and street-level ripple effects of the film’s wider exposure. Here in the land of the free, ahem, a TV-length version of Presumed Guilty airs July 27 in PBS’ P.O.V. series.

The film enjoyed four screenings in the SFIFF, including a Schools at the Festival date. “We hope this film will become widely used in education in Mexico and in North America,” Hernandez writes. “I’ve seen [that] it incites students to raise many pointed questions, and for many of them I do not have answers.”

Leland Orser, the San Francisco-bred and Los Angeles-based writer, director and co-star of Morning, freely admits that he doesn’t have any answers either at the moment. His drama about a couple weathering a tragedy received its world premiere at the SFIFF, and is seeking a distributor. “Back in Hollywood in the thick of it now,” Orser writes. “Will let you know how it all pans out after the dust settles.”

Another guy who stirred up some dust at the festival, and hopes to stir up a good deal more on America’s highways and byways one day soon, is Founder’s Directing Award recipient Walter Salles. The Brazilian director has been grappling for years with bringing Jack Kerouac’s seminal On the Road to the silver screen and provoked an appreciative audience into heated post-tribute conversations about where and how a film true to Kerouac’s spirit could be shot. Salles has a compass, and maybe even a map.

Notes From the Underground
In New York, Hibakusha Stories and Maysles Theater Present "Docs on Nukes: Nuclear Narrative through the Art." On Mother’s Day, May 9, bring your anti-nuclear moms, families and friends to a special sneak preview screening of M.T. Silvia’s Atomic Mom to the Maysles; details are at . . . Word is Out, the groundbreaking 1978 doc about lesbian and gay identity directed by the late Peter Adair along with several other local filmmakers, will be released June 8 on DVD by Milliarium Zero (Milestone Film’s sister company). One of those filmmakers was Rob Epstein, and his long-awaited new film with Jeffrey Friedman, Howl, will close Frameline34 on June 27.

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