This, in case you were wondering, is what subtitles were invented for. Motivated by a dynamic mission of understanding the world through the art of cinema, the Tiburon International Film Festival returns this week to the tiny town on the bay, for yet another eye-opening seven-day bacchanalia of movies, meetups and global filmmaking inspiration.
With movies from dozens of countries, filmed in a veritable United Nations of languages, the yearly event in downtown Tiburon draws movie artists and cinema fans from around the world.
This year, with international tensions more strained than they have been in decades, the notion of folks from different cultures bonding over movies and popcorn seems innocent and a little quaint—but also vital and necessary.
Featuring a lyrical tribute to the late Italian filmmaker-poet Pier Paolo Pasolini (Saturday, April 21, 3:45pm), the other major highlights this year include a new documentary about legendary actor and filmmaker Dennis Hopper, Iranian filmmaker Hossein Shahabi’s feature about a parolee desperately avoiding a return to prison (Conditional Release, Tuesday, April 24, 8pm), a number of films about Russian hackers, a colorful program of short films by Marin County filmmakers and a new UK documentary (The Beatles, Hippies, and Hells Angels, Thursday, April 26, 6pm), about the outlandish investment and philanthropic practices of Apple Corps, the Beatles’ own business corporation, founded in the late 1960s.
It all begins—appropriately enough, given that the festival opens on 4/20—with Hopper: In His Words (Friday, April 20, 4pm). That’s a nice bit of synchronicity, given that Hopper’s connection with marijuana was well established. In Easy Rider, his character smoked plenty of weed.
Director Cass Warner and co-producer and co-writer Susan Morgan Cooper will be in attendance. Accompanying the feature-length Hopper documentary is Joao Canziani’s Pehelwani, a documentary short about the ancient sport of mud wrestling in India, focusing on the men who devote their lives to its continuation, and the almost spiritual connection they feel with the wet, mucky soil they wrestle in.
The Marin Filmmakers program (Monday, April 23, 8pm) is always a popular event, a kind of ‘Marin Filmmakers Have Talent’ showcase of narrative and documentary shorts made by artists who live and work in Marin County. This year’s array of shorts looks as vibrant as ever.
Girl Code, 10 minutes long, by Casey Gates (director), shows what happens when two ex-friends meet up, accidentally, at the gym—what they say to each other, and what they are really saying beneath the surface.
Director Elizabeth Archer’s Jail Bird, 13 minutes long, is a fictional film taking place on the 10th anniversary of a missing girl’s disappearance. Paradise Cove, 21 minutes long, is Charlotte Lobdell and Jack Flynn’s drama about a young girl who, while staying at a rundown motel, makes tenuous friends with a pink-haired teenager who insists that she is a mermaid.
Directed by S. Kramer Herzog and Leonard Marcel, the 17-minute documentary Spark Plug Cowboys is a high-octane exploration of America’s youth-fueled “car culture” of the 1950s. Return of Harbor Porpoises to SF Bay, nine minutes long, is a straightforwardly titled documentary by Jim Sugar, taking a look at the Save the Bay Foundation, formed in 1961, and its efforts to lure dolphins and other sealife back to San Francisco Bay after years of polluted waters and a World War II effort to keep enemy submarines away. Sugar will be there for the screening.
The 15-minute comedy D for DOCs, by Joe Sikoryak, follows a professor of documentary filmmaking on the day that his students—whom he believes to be his worst ever—screen their class projects for the department chair. Finally, Olivia, 10 minutes, by Nicolas Collins, is a narrative drama-comedy about a lonely 20-something woman from West Oakland, who is about to get two new roommates she’s never met, a couple who arrive in the midst of an epic argument. According to director Collins, the film is about overcoming loss “while letting strangers fill the physical and emotional void.”
Tiburon International Film Festival, April 20-26; tiburonfilmfestival.com.