Arts & Events

Movies in the Margin:
The 25th Annual Berkeley Video and Film Festival 2016

Gar Smith
Friday October 28, 2016 - 03:42:00 PM

It's time, once again, to roll out the red carpet on Addison Street and get ready for six days of Small Screen glory with The Berkeley Video and Film Festival (BVFF), the East Bay's one-and-only, week-long celebration of film and video from around the block and around the world.

As Mel Vapour, one of the visionary EBMC honchos behind this cinematic superfest, recently put it: "What film festival in the East Bay screens the most current and cutting-edge indie cinema? Year after year, it's the Berkeley Video & Film Festival."

The 25th edition of the BVFF opens for business this Friday, offering six full days of films and videos in two distinct sessions—the first runs from October 28-30 followed by another that extends from November 4-6. It all takes place at the East Bay Media Center's intimate performance space in Berkeley's Downtown Arts District (1939 Addison Street).

This year's BVFF features more than 50 indie documentaries, features, film school shorts, experimental cinema and works from Russia, Spain, Hong Kong and Sweden. Filmmakers will be on hand for Q&A's following screenings of The Return (Tribeca Winner), Hearing Is Believing, and Ghost Town to Havana. -more-

Company Town: Celebrating a wild progressive win by Berkeley native over big money politics in the big city

Gar Smith
Friday October 28, 2016 - 08:35:00 AM

Opens at the Rialto Elmwood and the Roxie Theatre on October 28; Opens at the San Rafael Film Center on November 6.

With a testy November election ahead of us, the last thing you might be looking forward to watching would be a documentary about a contentious city election back in November 2015. But don't let that discourage you. Company Town is a sassy, intimate, and engrossing retelling of a David and Goliath battle for control of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. (Spoiler alert for out-of-towners: This is a "downer doc" with a certified "feel-good" finish.)

Company Town is the work of two award-winning Berkeley-based filmmaker-journalists—Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow. The star of this "little guy"-vs.-the-corporate-Godzillas tale is Aaron Peskin, a Berkeley High graduate. A former SF Supervisor, Peskin rises to the comeback challenge as a pint-sized contender with a gallon-sized wallop. His enemy is the misnamed "sharing economy"—Airbnb, Uber, Lyft—an upstart, entrepreneurial force that has no room for the poor and marginalized.

There's a lot at stake in the race for District 3—a major tourist destination that includes Chinatown, North Beach, Coit Tower, and the asphalt slalom-course known as Lombard Street. District 3 also is a neighborhood plagued by forced evictions spurred by the economic disruptions of Tech Company cash. An unlikely Peskin upset would return the board's progressive majority.