California Independent Film Festival 2019

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



August 28, 1 pm – Orinda Theatre #2


Afghan Cycles

Director: Sarah Menzies

Producer: Caryn Capotosto

Documentary, USA, Afghanistan

90 mins

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.


First Disco

Writer, Director: Helen Reilly

Producers: Helen Reilly, David C. Lynch and Jim Sheridan

Drama, Dublin, Ireland 

18 mins

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.


Yellow Arrows

Writer and Director: Yana Sar

Producers: Ryan Alan Dearth and Javier Gonzalez

Drama, New York, NY

15 mins

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

4 mins

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

10 mins

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.


Table Stakes

Director and Producer: Khai Thu Nguyen

Producer: Arthur Yee

Documentary, San Francisco, CA

16 mins

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


Dukla 61

Director: David Ondříček

Producers: Michal Reitler

Drama/History, Czech Republic

150 mins

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


No News

Writer, Director and Producer: Miguel Berzal de Miguel

Drama/Thriller, Spain

70 mins

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

Adventure/Comedy, Egypt

97 mins

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

Drama, Japan

103 mins

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

Comedy, Canada

108 mins

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


Mr. Sam

Writer, Director and Producer: Zeus Kontoyannis

Producer: Lina Lansky

Thriller, New York, NY

30 mins.

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?


Surfer’s Paradise

Director: Max Gold

Producers: Ben Palacios, Toaster Pictures, Maya Kvetny

Sci-Fi, USA

32 mins

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

12 mins

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

96 mins

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

93 mins

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

15 mins

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

95 mins

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