The 22nd annual California Independent Film Festival runs August 28-29 at the Orinda Theatre and August 31 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.
This acclaimed festival is a great way to see expertly curated international features and shorts—the kind of movies that are difficult to find in the age of superhero franchises.
The festival was created by East Bay residents Derek Zemrak and Leonard Pirkle. For information about films and showtimes, go to caiff.org.
August 28, 1 pm – Orinda Theatre #2
Director: Sarah Menzies
Producer: Caryn Capotosto
Documentary, USA, Afghanistan
What lengths would you go to in order to ride a bicycle? Following a new generation of young Afghan women cyclists, Afghan Cycles uses the bicycle to tell a story of women’s rights—human rights—and the struggles faced by Afghan women on a daily basis, from discrimination to abuse, to the oppressive silencing of their voices in all aspects of contemporary society. These women ride despite cultural barriers, infrastructure, and death threats, embracing the power and freedom that come with the sport.
August 28, 3 pm – Orinda Theatre #2
Short Film Showcase of Female Directors
This program includes five (5) short films that showcase the talents of female directors from around the globe.
Writer, Director: Helen Reilly
Producers: Helen Reilly, David C. Lynch and Jim Sheridan
Drama, Dublin, Ireland
It’s 1983. Culture Club are No. 1, everyone’s glued to "Knight Rider," and Kelly Harrison is not only experiencing her first crush, she’s going to her first disco. The only problem is that she’s getting braces on her teeth before her big night. With the help of her best friend, however, Kelly realizes what’s really important in her life.
Writer and Director: Yana Sar
Producers: Ryan Alan Dearth and Javier Gonzalez
Drama, New York, NY
After receiving messages from a stranger, Jack follows a path into a hidden world. As he gets trapped in the maze of the unknown, answers he was looking for begin to be revealed to him.
He Wants To Know My Number
Writer, Director and Producer: Sakinah Iman
Producers: Brilliant Champions and Joe Lumbroso
Comedy, Brooklyn, NY
Science has proven that, due to dopamine and serotonin levels in the male and female brain, women actually need to have twice as much sex as men. Yet in 2019, there is still a huge double-standard regarding male and female sexuality. Women are still being slut-shamed and ridiculed for being absolutely normal human beings. Sakinah Iman created this powerful and provocative piece to express her take on the issue of Sex and Promiscuity in the 21st Century.
Director: Mary Lou Belli
Writer: Jana Sue Memel
Producers: Mary Lou Belli, Charles Dougherty and Grant Kretchik
Drama, Los Angeles, CA
In a tribute to his brother's military service in Iraq, Tim takes his brother's ashes to NYC to the 9/11 Memorial. The journey ends with a lesson in racial profiling when he shares his evening with his Middle Eastern Airbnb host, Abdul.
Director and Producer: Khai Thu Nguyen
Producer: Arthur Yee
Documentary, San Francisco, CA
African American writers Joe Thompson and Chris Adams pursue their dreams in a comic book industry accustomed to white and Asian artists.
August 28, 6:30 pm – Orinda Theatre #2
Director: David Ondříček
Producers: Michal Reitler
Drama/History, Czech Republic
Centered on a mining disaster that took the lives of 108 men on July 7, 1961, Dukla 61 is an expansive, emotionally resonant portrait of a family. When Petr brings home his pregnant girlfriend Jana, declaring that he will abandon his college studies and become a miner like his father Milan, he dashes his parents’ hope for their son and plants seeds of discord that grow with the young couple’s live-in presence in a home crowded with younger children. This gripping two-part drama represents a masterwork for director Ondříček, with the pressures, worries, and intergenerational conflicts of family life ultimately intertwined and upstaged by the tense, chilling lead-up to the horror of the accident waiting to happen. In Czech with English subtitles.
August 29, 1 pm – Orinda Theatre #2
Writer, Director and Producer: Miguel Berzal de Miguel
Lola lives alone with her son, Jorge, near an industrial estate in Madrid. She works long hours in a storage company for a strict and stingy boss. One night, Jorge confesses to his mother that he has begun to keep in touch with his father, Marcos, who abandoned them a long time ago. In Spanish with English subtitles.
August 29, 3 pm - Orinda Theatre #2
Writer and Director: A.B. Shawky
Producer: Dian Eman
First-time director Shawky weaves a heartwarming but unsentimental tale of the scarred, aging leper Beshay and the ten-year-old homeless orphan boy Obama who attaches himself to the older man and refuses to leave. Surrogate father and son run away together on a rickety donkey cart in pursuit of Beshay’s dream to find the family that had long ago abandoned him at the gate of a leper colony. Acclaimed as the feel-good sensation of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival competition, this playful, poignant road movie traverses an Egypt that is light years away from the Arab Spring in its timeless view of villages, fertile fields, and the ever-present Nile, hardly more than a muddy creek. The remarkable odyssey of strange adventures, comic capers, and close calls expands on the "judgement day" meaning of its Arabic title, in a theme of acceptance and forgiveness. In Arabic with English subtitles.
August 29, 6 pm – Orinda Theatre #2
Amanogawa - The One I've Longed
Director: Shun Coney
Producer: Momoko Fukuchi
Shiori is a high school girl, born in Tokyo, who is not good at arguing. Her mother, Satomi, is a researcher of artificial intelligence and has little time to spend with Shiori. Education-obsessed, Satomi forces Shiori to study in order to get a job. Fed up, Shiori stops going to school. When she visits her beloved grandma who taught her to play Japanese drums, Shiori finds a robot remotely controlled by a young man who was paralyzed in a traffic accident. Communicating with the robot, Shiori finds her way to live again. In Japanese with English subtitles.
August 29, 8 pm – Orinda Theatre #2
My Internship in Canada
Director: Philippe Falardeau
Producers: Luc Dery and Kim McCraw
An idealistic young Haitian travels to rural Quebec to intern for an independent Member of Parliament when a national debate erupts that finds the MP holding the tie-breaking vote. In French with English subtitles.
August 31, 1:30 pm - Castro Theatre
Show Your Shorts Program
Writer, Director and Producer: Zeus Kontoyannis
Producer: Lina Lansky
Thriller, New York, NY
Today is a big day for Mr. Sam. He is going to reveal to his mother that he’s finally found the love of his life. Mr. Sam has many secrets; but the biggest one he’s managed to keep hidden from everyone for so long is discovered when his best friend Sandra arrives earlier than expected and catches him red-handed.
Luckily for Sam, all may not be lost. Sandra has a secret of her own, which locks the two into a twisted pact. Life, however, is not that simple. Sam nearly breaks the pact and soon comes face to face with Sandra’s demon; and that confrontation has deadly consequences. Sam must carry the burden for both and for now, secrets remain buried.
But for how long?
Director: Max Gold
Producers: Ben Palacios, Toaster Pictures, Maya Kvetny
A human invited to live in the company of AI struggles between divided loyalties.
Directors and Producers: Chuck Marra, Megan Foley Marra
Producer: Wayne Lee
Drama, San Francisco, CA
On the anniversary of Kevin’s husband’s passing, he decided to honor his late husband’s wishes to scatter his ashes at sea. While at the beach, Kevin’s perfect plan was made complicated by the elements of nature and an unexpected stranger.
August 31, 3:30 pm - Castro Theatre
The Guest House
Director: Maria Gargiulo
Producers: Steve Alper, Tim Robinson, Corbin Timbrook and Tom Alper
Thriller, Santa Monica, CA
When a single dad rents the GUEST HOUSE of a wealthy bachelor, he soon discovers his new landlord's generosity comes with a price. Starring Tom Alper, Daniel Baldwin, Timothy Robinson, Vince Van Patten, Paul Linke and Eileen Davidson.
August 31, 6:00 pm - Castro Theatre
Giant Little Ones
Writer, Director: Keith Behrman
Producer: Allison Black
Drama/Coming of Age, USA
Two popular teen boys, best friends since childhood, discover their lives, families, and girlfriends dramatically upended after an unexpected incident occurs on the night of a 17th birthday party. Starring Darren Mann how will be attending the discuss the making of the film after the screening.
August 31, 8:00 pm - Castro Theatre
MOTHERship to Reno
Director: Derek Zemrak
Producers: Joseph Cabrera, Lance Mack, Marc Estrada
Documentary, San Francisco, CA
All aboard! The MOTHERship is calling you. Each year on Easter weekend over 100 Drag Queens from San Francisco board a bus for trek to Reno. Heklina and Sue Casa are the "Den Mothers"- hosting the buses and wrangling this giant pack of traveling drag queens, kings, and all other species of weirdo.
Steam Room Stories: The Movie!
Director: J.C. Calciano
Producers: J.C. Calciano, William Plyler, James Singleton
Comedy, Los Angeles, CA
Failing cosmetics magnate Sally Fay (Traci Lords) will stop at nothing to possess the waters of the Steam Room to help lift her sagging empire. What she doesn't count on is the Steam Room Guys banding together to thwart her evil plans.
August 31, 9:45 pm - Castro Theatre
Castro Awards Ceremony
August 31, 10:00 pm – Poesia
Closing Night After Party