Heads and tails: 'Head Trip,' a film by John Law and Fletcher Fleudujon in the upcoming SF DocFest, visits the Doggie Diner monument. (Photo courtesy SF Indiefest)

7th SF DocFest Program

Susan Gerhard September 25, 2008

SF Indiefest announced the program for its seventh San Francisco International Documentary Film Festival (SF DocFest) this past Tuesday at the Roxie, and it has the potential to be every bit as raucous as other festivals under the organization’s umbrella. As expected, dry social commentary is not the rule: The festival opens with Abel Ferrara’s Chelsea on the Rocks, described as "a freewheeling personal journey inside the walls, history and mythology of Manhattan’s celebrated bohemian landmark, The Chelsea Hotel," featuring interviews with a few of the notables who’ve spent time there—Milos Forman, Ethan Hawke, Dennis Hopper, and R. Crumb—as well as re-enactments of some of the Chelsea’s most storied moments. The second opening feature is Kassim the Dream, about a Ugandan child-soldier-turned-U.S. boxing champion, directed by Kief Davidson. The party that follows is, it’s said, at a "secret, underground location" to be disclosed night-of at the Roxie to festival-goers.

Running October 17-30 at the Roxie (SF) and October 31-November 6 at the Shattuck (Berkeley), the festival is adding a new feature this year: sponsorship by the media company, Current, which is programming a thematically related "short form pod" to go with DocFest’s nightly showcases.

The festival puts a spotlight on the work of Melody Gilbert, who it calls "one of the most fearless independent filmmakers in contemporary documentary cinema," with screenings that include Gilbert’s Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness, a film about spelunkers, and Disconnected, about college students attempting to unplug themselves in the wired era.

Five world premieres round out the DocFest programming: the subculture specific Come on Down! The Road to the Price Is Right, the undergrad Spellbound for debaters, Debate Team, Gilbert’s Disconnected, two-women-on-a-road-trip film The Long Haul, one of a growing number of facial hair documentaries, A Stiff Upper Lip, and locally made Head Trip. The film, co-directed by Oaklander John Law, a charter member of the Cacophony Society/Burning Man co-founder, and produced by Laughing Squid, takes a San Francisco busload on an oddball tour of American roadside attractions.

DocFest closes its ’08 program with Nina Davenport’s well-received Operation Filmmaker, about a misguided American-led attempt to help an Iraqi film student who’d been "discovered" earlier in an MTV segment. While the closing night party is TBD, on Friday, October 24, DocFest offers at CellSpace a "Disco Costume Party" with tunes and skate rentals provided by Black Rock Roller Disco (free with any DocFest ticket stub or pass.)

More at DocFest’s web site.

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