Arts & Events

New: Parties and Movies Galore: It's the 15th SF Independent Film Festival
February 7-21
Brava Theatre, Roxie Theatre, Vortex Room in San Francisco

Overview Review by Gar Smith
Monday February 11, 2013 - 10:19:00 PM

SF's wonderfully wacky, over-the-top and beyond-the-boundaries IndieFest marks its 15th incarnation with 77 independent films from 17 countries (34 features and 43 shorts). The 15-day-and-night event includes two world premieres, four US premieres and a bucket-list of theme parties, including (appropriately enough) a Quinceañera party replete with DJ Haute Mess (Brass Taxx), live music, an open bar and, of course, a birthday cake. 



The Highlights! 


Opening Night. The festival kicks off February 7th at the Brava Theater (2781 24th St.) with a special screening of The We and the I, the latest feature film from Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind). Written in cooperation with a group of real New York high school kids (who play versions of themselves), the film takes place almost entirely inside a bus filled with emotional, angst-ridden students taking the last ride home before summer vacation. One of the wonders is how the filmmakers managed to insert themselves into this moving teen maelstrom without leaving any evidence of the camera crew in the finished product. The US Premiere of Gondry's film will be immediately followed by IndieFest's Quinceañera party. 


Centerpiece Film. Everado Gout's Dias de Gracis, a big hit at the Cannes Film Festival, is described as "an epic crime drama set in Mexico City against the backdrop of three televised Soccer World Cups." Here's Hugh Jackman's capsule review: "Days of Grace will simultaneously rip your heart out and have your mind reeling long after you have left the theater." 

Closing Night Film. IndieFest concludes with a special screening of Joe Swanberg's latest directorial effort, All the Light in the Sky. A full weekend of Swanberg's works is scheduled to screen at the Roxie (3117 16th St.) immediately following the festival. 

The Parties! The 10th annual Big Lebowski Party will be held Saturday, February 9, and will feature costumes, interactive games, and White Russians followed by a midnight screening of the Coen Brothers' classic film at The Roxie. 

The festival presents its annual Roller Disco Costume Party at the Women's Building Auditorium (3543 18th St. at Valencia) on Friday, February 15 at 8:00 PM. Skates Rentals and Groovy Disco Tunes provided by Black Rock Roller Disco. Disco Attire Encouraged! 21 and up, $10 (free with an IndieFest ticket stub). 

This year, SF IndieFest hosts not one, but two Valentines Day Sing-A-Longs at The Roxie. On St. Valentines Day, February 14, a Super Secret Sing-A-Long at 7:15 PM will be followed by a 9:30 pm "Anti-Valentines Day" Sing-A-Long with a bonanza of breakup-songs and '80s power ballads. 

February 8, 9, 15, 16 will also feature IndieFest after-parties at Mission B.A.G. (Bad Art Gallery) at 518 Valencia Gallery. "The events feature fabulous art curated from only the finest thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales, plus game shows, DJ nights and special film screenings." All parties start at 7:00 PM and last until midnight. 


The Films! IndieFest 2013 includes the World Premieres of Blue Dream (the story of an LA news reporter in the dying days of print journalism who "finds himself adrift in a world that is part Kafka, part Bret Easton Ellis, with an echo of Scientology") and Faceless (an investigation of the plight of many undocumented foreign workers injured in the 9/11 attack and then ignored). Other unusual fare includes Inside Lara Roxx (a porn industry, medical-justice docudrama), The Revisionairies (profiling the surprisingly likeable Texas dentist — who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old and dinosaurs coexisted with humans — who was responsible for forcing schoolbook publishers to promote creationism), and the poetic and violent Mexican film Days of Grace. 

There are four futuristic offerings in the mix, three of them comic (Manborg, Ghosts with Shit Jobs, It's a Disaster) and one, Antiviral, a wickedly satirical grim-fest (about a doctor who sells "celebrity illnesses" to extreme fans) directed by David Cronenberg's son, Brandon. 

The Festival boasts a heap of New Experimental Short Works from "local legend" Lynn Hershman and newcomer Mary Helena Clark. An evening of "Cults, Manholes & Slide Rail Riders" offers a selection of Local Debut Shorts including Slide Rail Superman, The Muppetless Movie, and the futuristic sci-fi Life internal. And what IndieFest would be complete without a roundup of animated shorts from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US? 


For lovers of the wonderfully weird, there's The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (the story of a prescient cephalopod who made headlines with his 100% success rate at predicting the winners of soccer's 2010 World Cup playoffs). Paul Bunnell's "1950's throwback," The Ghastly Love of Johnny X, is "a surreal genre of sci-fi B movies complete with musical numbers, over-the-top dialogue, and hilarious special effects" and Ghosts with Shit Jobs delivers a "futuristic, sci-fi comedy…. a hilarious satire about a generation of Torontonians in 2040 who work dead-end jobs in the future." 

For much, much more on the festivities (and, for you party hounds, the feastivities), grab a print copy of the IndieFest program or graze through the cinematic fields waiting online at 

Here's a sampler of some of IndieFest's fare (and a taste of the flavorful blurbs used to describe them): 


The Last Elvis Armando Bo | Argentina 2012 | 90min. 

Armando Bo’s phenomenal debut tells of a divorced singer who lives as if he were the reincarnation of The King. A factory worker by day and small-time star by night, Carlos "Elvis" Gutiérrez has built his entire life around this borrowed identity. In his shabby, barely furnished apartment, his small-screen viewing consists entirely of Presley concerts and interviews. He insists on calling his ex-wife Priscilla, though her name is Alejandra; their young daughter is naturally named Lisa Marie. 

Bound by Flesh Leslie Zemeckis | US, 2012 | 91 min. The Hilton Sisters were once the highest paid act in vaudeville, yet they never saw a dime. Conjoined at the hip, the "Siamese" twins began their career in carnival sideshows, but went on to become stars of stage and screen, featured in Tod Browning’s Freaks. But, show business can prove to be fickle as the twins struggled in their later years to find work. Leslie Zemeckis' compelling documentary chronicles the ups and downs of Violet’s and Daisy’s lives and careers, from their heyday as America’s sweethearts to their final days as grocery store clerks, shedding light on their unusual bond. 

Video Diary of a Lost Girl Lindsay Denniberg | US, 2012 | 90 min. An eye-popping punk rock horror fantasy where we meet the immortal Louise and her beloved Charlie. Charlie was her paramour from the 1920s, whom she accidentally killed before realizing she is a descendant of Lilith, the mother of all demons! This race of women must feed on the souls of men once every full moon, or they will menstruate to death. Now a hundred years later, Charlie returns reincarnated, and Louise must struggle with staying away from the love of her life, or risk losing him again! 

The Ghastly Love on Johnny X Paul Bunnell | USA, 2012 | 106 min. | 35mm  

Will Keenan (Tromeo and Juliet, Chop) is Jonathan Xavier, a bad boy alien who has been exiled to Earth from the far reaches of outer space with his devoted misfit gang. Johnny's former girlfriend, Bliss, has left him and stolen his Resurrection Suit -- a cosmic, mind-bending uniform that gives the owner power over others. Bliss and her new beau, the ice-cream-slinging sensitive Chip are on the run with Johnny and his goons in hot pursuit of the suit! An epic black and white sci-fi musical spectacle! 

Manborg Steven Kostanski | Canada, 2011 | 60 min. California Premiere! 

The armies of Hell have taken over the Earth, and all that stands in the way of the villainous Count Draculon and his total subjugation of humanity is a motley lot of misfits seemingly torn from the pantheon of schlock genre-cinema circa the 1980s. There’s an Australian punker, a knife wielding anime chick, a kung-fu master (voiced with deliriously pitch-perfect stoicism by Kyle Herbert, the narrator from Dragon Ball Z), and, of course, the titular Manborg, itself a literal kind of cinematic Frankenstein, both emblematic of pulp sci-fi as obscure as Charles Band’s Eliminators and as broad as Robocop and The Terminator. …[A] cacophony of laser-blasts and comic book ultra-violence [with] an extraordinary barrage of elaborate miniatures, iconic costumes and delirious stop-motion creatures that would have Harryhausen and Tippet try to high-five the ghost of David W. Allen out of sheer enthusiasm. -- Peter Kuplowsky 

General Information about SF IndieFest 

Regular film tickets are $10 in advance; $12 at the door. Mission BAG events are free. Roller Disco and Big Lebowski parties are $10. Full-pass Festival tickets are $170; $25 if you are under 21; $90 for a 10-Film Pack; $50 for a 5-Film Pack.