Wrapping Up the SF Film Festival

Now that the San Francisco International Film Festival is over, I feel a bit empty inside. 

I taught myself to take the 38 bus from downtown to Japantown a couple days a week over the past couple weeks - and damn was I proud. 

I discovered the awesomest caramelized onions at the Sundance Kitchen next to the Kabuki Cinema. 

Found a place (a Korean restaurant called Playground) that rents out a whole karaoke room for $30 an hour. 

Finally got to step inside the fancy schmancy new Dosa and experience uppity bougie blonde girls and their asswipe boyfriends. 

Relished in free Wi-Fi, plush couches, and overpriced yet delicious cookies inside the Kabuki.  Free Wi-Fi makes life all better. 

My wonderful little three-block world.  Ahhhhhh.  Oh, and I saw a few films, too.

I by far did not get to see all the films I wanted to see, I missed the Tyson documentary, a Robin Williams flick, and a couple others - but alas.  Such is the life of the girl who thought she could do everything.  Films take a long time to watch.  I think that's why my ADD behind prefers Netflix-ing TV shows - low commitment.

Not that I'm a commitment-phobe or anything, but yeah.  Like, film watching is a more orchestrated effort for me.  And hey, a film fest isn't a bad time to catch some motion pictures you might otherwise be exposed to.  Yes, I said motion pictures - I just felt like saying it.

Around high school I had a friend that loved watching art films and I never got them.  I felt kinda dumb and uncultured and unrefined and ish.  Then I grew up and either got smarter or stuffier; I can appreciate more art films now.

But damn, do art/indie films always have to be madd anticlimactic/ambiguous/abrupt with their endings?  Or in layman's terms - confusing as isht?  For serious.  While all the films I saw were definitely solid, a couple of them definitely left me with a bit of an "uhhh" factor. 

Take "35 Shots of Rum," a story centered around a father-daughter relationship.  The film was colored with a lot of feeling and loose-ends that kept you searching for what would happen next.  But at the end of the day, my ass was still left wondering.

"Troubled Water," a story about a mother and her son's supposed killer individually and collectively coming to terms in the aftermath, was one of my favorite films.  It was well shot and had a solid plot that actually had a point.  It's only downfall (could be major depending on who you talk to) in my opinion was that the point I felt it was trying to prove all along was randomly swept aside at the end by a seemingly conflicting conclusion.  Still, the film consistently held my interest and said a lot regardless of the lame ending.  Not to be confused with aforementioned half-ass endings that end up saying nothing.

My other fave was "Empress Hotel," simply because it was so raw and real, literally.  The film documented nine stories of individuals residing in permanent housing for recovering drug addicts and homeless in San Francisco.  It humanized a largely marginalized yet significant portion of our population.  And it was about the city I live in.  I really appreciated it.

"Mohandas" was great as well.  An Indian film that isn't your typical Bollywood story - about the tribulations of a man suffering from an intricate identity theft scheme.  But really, beyond that, the twists and turns in the plot towards the end really made me think.  What I thought were initially arbitrary plot changes actually spoke in a very sobering way to how society works.  How nothing is certain.  How some serious injustices result from the whims of the selfish and powerful.  A lot.

Yes.  Thank you, SFIFF - I'll be back next year.

Seher Sikandar is a Bay Area-based  artist, photographer and writer who covers art and lifestyle events. Check out her portfolio at rehescreative.com.

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