The fourth Doc Stories, presented by SFFILM returns to the Bay Area from November 1 to 4 with a lineup featuring brand-new documentary films yet to be released alongside in-depth discussions with filmmaker guests in person.
The forward-thinking values of the San Francisco Bay Area are celebrated in the lineup especially by two remarkable portraits – General Magic and 5B – both featuring extraordinary archival footage conveying a unique “you were there” sense of urgency. Pressing issues from political indoctrination in Syria to maternal mortality rates here in the US take the stage alongside films such as They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead and United Skates, that use art and culture as a lens through which to tell larger stories.
This year’s wide-ranging lineup will also present the inaugural Doc Star Keynote Address, delivered by Lisa Nishimura, Head of Documentary and Comedy Programming at Netflix. Doc Stories 2018 is rounded out by compelling and diverse shorts programs: Doc Shorts focused around issues of community and place, and the return of the popular New York Times Op-Docs showcase.
The fourth Doc Stories runs November 1 to 4 at the Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street) and SFMOMA’s Phyllis Wattis Theater (151 3rd Street – Joyce and Larry Stupski Entrance at Minna Street).
Opening Night: They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead [Castro]
Morgan Neville, USA, 98 min. Director Morgan Neville expected to attend.
Morgan Neville, who charmed SFFILM Festival audiences this spring with his look at Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood, now playfully takes on the story of Orson Welles’s last production, The Other Side of the Wind, a semi-mythological cinematic experiment, posthumously completed and receiving its first public release this year. Neville eschews scholars and critics and lets those who knew and worked with the mercurial filmmaker tell the story of “the greatest movie never released.” The result is as lively and inventive as work of the master it reveals.
Doc Star Keynote Address: Lisa Nishimura [SFMOMA]
TRT 60 min.
Netflix’s Vice President of Original Documentary and Comedy Programming has had an enormous impact on the way filmmakers and viewers approach non-fiction filmmaking. Nishimura is an 11-year Netflix veteran and spearheaded Netflix’s Original Documentaries initiative in 2013. The non-fiction work developed under her tenure is comprised of a wide range of series and features including Ava DuVernay’s 13th, Werner Herzog’s Into the Inferno, and Liz Garbus’s What Happened Miss Simone? The current slate of films, including Reversing Roe, Shirkers, and Quincy, showcases Netflix’s commitment to female documentarians and compelling storytelling. Nishimura will discuss her thoughts on the current state of non-fiction filmmaking in an entertaining and informative Keynote.
Giving Birth in America: California [SFMOMA]
Clancy McCarty, USA, 18 min. (TRT 60 min) Director Clancy McCarty, Every Mother Counts founder Christy Turlington Burns, and additional guests expected to attend. Extended post-screening conversation.
Giving Birth in America is a documentary series that examines some of the reasons for the alarming current statistics about maternal mortality rates in the US. This fifth and most recent episode, California, focuses on Dr. Christina Gamboa, an OB-GYN in Watsonville who provides pre-natal care to an immigrant farmworker from Mexico with a high-risk pregnancy. The screening will be followed by an in-depth discussion with McCarty, Dr. Gamboa, and women’s health advocates.
New York Times Op-Docs [SFMOMA]
TRT 80 min. Directors Luisa Conlon, Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, and Kathleen Lingo, Executive Producer of New York Times Op-Docs expected to attend.
The fourth edition of our annual exploration of the year’s best short documentaries from the New York Times’ award-winning series again shows the strength and versatility of the non-fiction form. This year’s program takes us from family reflections to pressing worldly issues and beyond—even to outer space.
The Truth About Killer Robots [SFMOMA]
Maxim Pozdorovkin, USA, 83 min. Director Maxim Pozdorovkin expected to attend.
This timely exploration of our increasingly mechanized world is a kaleidoscopic look at the automatically operating machines that are changing our daily lives in ways that run the gamut from intriguing to deadly. The film probes automation-influenced events both dramatic and incidental, from the death of a worker in a German Volkswagen factory to robotic displacement of laborers to the undermining of authentic human connection. Philosophers, journalists, and futurists add perspective and insight, sharing screen time with a non-human narrator.
Doc Shorts [SFMOMA]
TRT 70 min. Filmmakers Roxy Rezvany, Mohammed Gorjestani, Ivete Lucas, and Patrick Bresnan expected to attend.
Four expertly crafted and distinctly expressed short films center around issues of community and place. Whether navigating a transition from North Korea to the UK, a release from prison, or a trip to the beach, the people documented in these non-fiction pieces—Little Pyongyang (Roxy Rezvany, UK), Nuuca (Michelle Latimer, Canada/USA), Sister Hearts (Mohammad Gorjestani, USA), and Skip Day (Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan, USA)—are each in their different way adjusting to the changing world in which they find themselves.
Ghost Fleet [SFMOMA]
Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron, USA, 88 min. Co-director Shannon Service expected to attend.
The plight of fishermen enslaved on vessels in Southeast Asian waters is movingly documented through the linked stories of Patima Tungpuchayakul, a Thai activist who has helped return men to their homes, and Tun Lin, who escaped captivity after eleven years and now seeks justice for himself and others. The film follows a rescue mission off the shore of Indonesia where escaped men hide on remote islands and Thai ships continue their shocking practices.
General Magic [SFMOMA]
Sarah Kerruish and Matt Maude, USA, 93 min. Co-director Matt Maude and special guests expected to attend.
A portrait of Silicon Valley’s most important failed startup, General Magic details the rise and fall of the visionary company that envisioned the first smartphone, as well as e-commerce and emojis, years before any of them became ubiquitous. Told through the voices of several members of the team of gifted (and still dominant) engineers, programmers, and marketers, General Magic brings you into the heart of the story of a company that changed the world before the world was ready.
Of Fathers and Sons [SFMOMA]
Talal Derki, Germany/Syria/Lebanon, 99 min.
Posing as a photojournalist who supports jihad, director Talal Derki takes extraordinary risks and gains vivid access to the family and life of 45-year-old Abu Osama, one of the founders of Al-Nusra, the Syrian arm of Al-Qaeda. The father of eight sons, Abu Osama is a fearsome example of those who believe firmly in violence as a means to an end. Though certainly chilling at times, Of Fathers and Sons is also a deeply compassionate portrait of young boys who are not given options over their lives and futures.
Filmmakers in Conversation [SFMOMA]
TRT 75 min. Directors Bing Liu, RaMell Ross, and Sandi Tan expected to attend.
What are some of the ways that a filmmaker signals their point of view about their subjects? How does a film’s style and approach influence how the viewer absorbs and understands it? Join the creators of some of 2018’s most remarkable films, shot in a variety of styles and using innovative methods to explore stories both personal and topical, to explore these topics. Participants include Bing Liu (Minding the Gap), RaMell Ross (Hale County This Morning, This Evening), and Sandi Tan (Shirkers).
United Skates [SFMOMA]
Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler, USA 2018, 90 min. Directors Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler expected to attend.
Eight wheels and a roller rink hold special significance in the African American community, as the act of roller skating provides a meaningful, vibrant, and safe way for people to express themselves. Examining the historical and cultural influence of skating rinks around the county, filmmakers Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown document recent rink closures and discriminatory regulations that make it harder for skaters to gather, while celebrating the community that is determined to keep the spirit and their skating alive.
5B [Castro] – WORLD PREMIERE
Dan Krauss, USA, 93 min. Director Dan Krauss expected to attend.
In the mid-1980s, a simple number and letter designated a ward on the fifth floor of San Francisco General Hospital, the first in the country designed specifically to deal with AIDS patients. The unit’s emphasis on humanity and consideration of holistic well-being was a small miracle in the midst of a devastating crisis and the ensuing panic about risk and infection. The story of 5B is stirringly told through first-person testimony of patients, their loved ones, and hospital staff who volunteered to work on the ward, resulting in a bittersweet and moving monument to a moment in San Francisco history and a celebration of quiet heroes worthy of remembrance and renewed recognition. Presented in Collaboration with the Telluride Film Festival.