We’re excited to present xx films with local Bay Area connections that will be screening at the 44th Mill Valley Film Festival.
Brazil 2021, 93 min Director ALEXANDRE MORATTO
Director Alexandre Moratto’s lean, slow-burning morality tale probes Brazil’s human trafficking underground. Hoping to send money home to his family, Mateus (the compelling Christian Malheiros) finds himself at the mercy of a modern-day slave master (Rodrigo Santoro). There is a way out, but the price of freedom may be too steep. In Portuguese with English subtitles
US 2020, 95 min Director SKYE WALLIN
Feeling their generation’s concerns were ignored by the Democratic Party mainstream, some New York teenagers decided to put their social-media savvy to work—by launching a presidential campaign. More improbably still, their chosen candidate was an 89-year-old hero of the progressive left. This inspiring documentary proves “little people” can still rattle Big Politics.
BAD ATTITUDE: THE ART OF SPAIN RODRIGUEZ
US 2021, 71 min Director SUSAN STERN
A star in San Francisco’s influential underground comics scene of the late 1960s and ’70s, Rodriguez created beautifully rendered art that was nonetheless raunchy, politically radical, and sometimes willfully offensive. His filmmaker widow parses a complex personality and artistic legacy, both of them dazzling if often wildly at odds with today’s cultural norms.
BORN IN CHICAGO
US 2020, 77 min Directors BOB SARLES, JOHN ANDERSON
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
White blues prodigies in the 1960s learn from their Black heroes and carry the spirit of the music to the next generation of fans. Featuring explosive live performance footage and a who’s-who of blues legends, Born in Chicago is a loving tribute to a distinctly American art form.
US 2021, 108 min Director MIKE MILLS
With Joaquin Phoenix at his most endearing, a radiantly intuitive Gaby Hoffmann, and 8-year-old astonishing discovery Woody Norman, Mike Mills’ highly relatable family drama is as aesthetically stunning as it is emotionally resonant. All the filmmaker’s hallmarks are here: intelligence, compassion, and outstanding style.
US 2021, 136 min Director ROB NILSSON
Young lovers Rail and Mitra hit the road on a borrowed motorcycle, searching for a connection to the past as they plot an unknown future. Totally improvised by a group of magnetic actors, CENTER DIVIDE bursts with breathtaking, heartbreaking images of contemporary American life on the edge.
US 2021, 96 min Director CHRIS J. RUSSO
Women fostered every aspect of cannabis culture, from political activism to innovative horticulture to organic medicine. This amiable documentary celebrates those unsung pioneers and examines both the history of alternative agriculture in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle and the rapidly changing nature of an only recently legalized industry.
LIKE A ROLLING STONE: THE LIFE & TIMES OF BEN FONG-TORRES
US 2021, 102 min Director SUZANNE KAI
BAY AREA PREMIERE
With no shortage of rich material from his life and storied career, this documentary presents an intimate portrait of the social activist and legendary rock critic, Ben-Fong Torres. A Bay Area institution and one of the most essential journalists of the American counterculture, Fong-Torres wrote for Rolling Stone and the San Francisco Chronicle.
MARVELOUS AND THE BLACK HOLE
US 2021, 81 min Director KATE TSANG
BAY AREA PREMIERE
Teen delinquent Sammy (Miya Cech, Always Be My Maybe) finds a path through grief and family dysfunction by forming an unlikely friendship with Margot (Rhea Perlman, Cheers), a children’s party magician giving off grumpy-but-wise grandma vibes. An uplifting coming-of-age story blazing with dark humor, fun fantasy, and charming magic.
MISSION: JOY – FINDING HAPPINESS IN TROUBLED TIMES
US 2021, 90 min Directors LOUIS PSIHOYOS, PEGGY CALLIHAN
A fascinating look at the friendship between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, this doc from Peggy Callahan and Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos tackles big topics and big feelings. It’s an engrossing portrait of two influential world leaders who share the ability to find hope––and even joy––in adversity.
MY DEAD DAD
US 2021, 90 min Director FABIO FREY
In this endearing coming-of-age drama, ex-skateboarder Lucas’ (Pedro Correa) father dies and leaves him a Los Angeles apartment complex, which he plans to sell off without a second thought. But the apartment’s tenants remember his father as a different man from the one Lucas has imagined.
US 2021, 128 min Director SEAN BAKER
The audacious new film from writer-director Sean Baker (The Florida Project – MVFF 2017, Tangerine), starring Simon Rex in a magnetic, live-wire performance, Red Rocket is a darkly funny, raw, and humane portrait of a uniquely American hustler and a hometown that barely tolerates him. The film is slated to be released this Fall in the U.S. in select theaters.
REFLECTION: A WALK WITH WATER
US 2021, 80 min Director EMMETT BRENNAN
Hope is the surprising emotional core of Emmett Brennan’s poetic and soulful essay on the perilous state of California’s water ecosystems. Framed around his weeks-long walk along the L.A. Aqueduct Reflection introduces us to inspiring farmers, ranchers, soil experts, and ecologists who are reversing decades of destructive practices.
Bangladesh 2020, 102 min Director AMITABH REZA CHOWDHURY
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
In Bangladesh, feisty teen artist Naima disguises herself as a boy and braves the dangers of the big city, driving a rickshaw to earn extra cash for her struggling family. But it’s her vivid artwork that reveals her true calling. Based on the beloved young adult novel by Mitali Perkins. Age 11+.
A SONG FOR CESAR
US 2021, 102 min Directors ANDRES ALEGRIA, ABEL SANCHEZ
Building on the legacy of late civil-rights activist and labor leader Cesar Chavez, and the pride inspired by the Chicano Movement of the 1960s, this documentary showcases the music of that era—a powerful soundtrack for farmworkers who until then felt invisible and unheard.
WOMEN IS LOSERS
US 2020, 84 min Director LISSETTE FELICIANO
BAY AREA PREMIERE
Revisit San Francisco of the ’60s and ’70s with this spirited crowd-pleaser about a woman of color triumphing over sexism as she plots a path to independence. Lissette Feliciano’s rule-breaking debut also features one of the sassiest Mission-set dance numbers you’ll ever see.
US 2021, 26 min Directors KATIE BERNSTEIN, CLARA MOKRI
Directors Katie Bernstein and Clara Mokri focus on a vulnerable community known as the anchor-outs who live on boats anchored off the coast in Sausalito, just north of San Francisco.
BOLT CUTTERS MAKE GREAT FRIENDS
US 2021, 9 min Director ARIEL IMAN ROSE
An introverted farmer uses unconventional methods to try and make a friend.
BOYS AND GIRLS
US 2021, 6 min Director CAROLINE LIVIAKIS
A boy and girl: cocky, cool, and uncompromising, engage in a seductive game of emotional warfare to fulfill their insatiable desire for power and control.
US 2021,11 min Director GRACE SLOAN
It’s New Years’ Eve 2080 and Earth is uninhabited. A new age radiologist travels from outer space to practice yoga in front of a desert sunset when an earthquake hurls her from a cliff.
US 2020, 15 min Directors ANNA KUPERBERG, JULIA CASKEY
A couple’s final conversations in a story that is more about love than death.
ERIC AND THE BEES
US 2020, 8 min Directors ERIN BRETHAUER, TIM HUSSIN
When Eric Grandon discovered beekeeping, he had no idea that bees would give him the power to transform both his own life and that of many others.
US 2020, 19 min Director KYUNG SOK KIM
Little girl living in a trailer park in the later 90s must come to terms with the changes that surround her, as her park will soon be shut down and all of its residents evacuated. This means that she must say goodbye to her best friend, and learn what it means to move on.
GOING DARK, FINDING LIGHT
US 2021, 7 min Directors MATT KLUG, JOSHUA HARDING
A San Francisco-based chef and his team found a way to bring a new dining experience to life during the pandemic.
GOLDEN AGE KARATE
US 2021, 5 min Director SINDHA AGHA
Inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame at 10 years old, Jeff Wall is a teenage karate pro. Best friends with his grandparents, Jeff wanted to pass along his passion for the dojo to a community he felt needed it most — senior citizens.
MY LITTLE HILTON
US 2021, 12 min Directors KEVIN DUNCAN WONG, TODD SILLS
After 25 years as an in-home caregiver, a Midwestern Black woman in her 60s strikes out for San Francisco to restart her music career.
THE NEW ENVIRONMENTALISTS – FROM ACCRA TO ELEUTHERA ISLAND
US 2021, 30 min Directors JOHN ANTONELLI, WILL PARRINELLO, MATT YAMASHITA
Narrated by Robert Redford, this film illustrates how six ordinary people are affecting extraordinary change. Environmental heroes who have placed themselves squarely in harm’s way battle intimidating adversaries while building strong grassroots support. THE NEW ENVIRONMENTALISTS share a common goal – safeguarding the Earth’s natural resources from exploitation and pollution, while fighting for environmental justice in their communities. The film is the latest in the Mill Valley Film Group’s Emmy Award-winning series featuring inspiring portraits of six passionate and dedicated activists.
US 2020, 18 min Directors CHELSI DE CUBA, GABRIEL DE CUBA
Suspicious packages found in a small town in Northern California expose a vast network of succulent plant poachers.
TULE ELK: THE KILLING OF A NATIVE SPECIES
US 2020, 8 min Director FILIPE DEANDRADE
A look at the heated controversy between conservationists and the National Park Service over the fate of the Tule elk in Point Reyes National Seashore.