Since 2001, Tiburon International Film Festival annually screens new and important films from around the world, bringing a global vision to Marin—normally in the springtime.
With the pandemic’s onset in early 2020, the event moved online late last year. This month, the Tiburon International Film Festival continues its autumnal streaming presentation model for its 20th annual offering, Nov. 19–25.
“When the pandemic happened early last year, we and the Playhouse Theater—which we used from the start of the festival—were getting ready to start the festival,” Tiburon International Film Festival Founder Saeed Shafa says. “We had two options. Cancel the festival or postpone it. The program was already ready and was posted online, so we decided to go virtual later in the year.”
During the shutdown, the Playhouse—which was the only theater in Tiburon—closed its doors permanently. Fortunately for the festival, the virtual model worked well enough to keep the event going online in 2021.
This year’s online-only Tiburon International Film Festival will screen feature and short films during live-streaming events that resemble a live-festival schedule more than an on-demand model, where films screen at specific times based on the Pacific Standard Time zone.
In addition to continuing its online model, the festival also continues to present films from around the world as well as from local Bay Area and Marin filmmakers.
This year’s international spotlight is on the Czech Republic, featuring four films from that country.
“Every year we choose a global filmmaking region to shine a light upon their latest films,” Shafa says.
“Spotlight on Czech Cinema” streams Bet On Friendship, about middle-aged friends who challenge themselves to live better; Sweethearts, based on the best-selling Czech novel by Radka Teštíková; The Way Home, in which director Tomáš Vorel concludes a trilogy about life in a small village and Two Ships, a cosmic love story.
The festival also highlights films by women directors, as it does each year.
“If you look back at the history of cinema, you will find women directors as early as the late 1800s,” Shafa says. “The majority of our films from early on have been made by women directors, and we decided to highlight them in 2019. We’ve done that since and plan to continue doing it every year.”
Women-directed films streaming during this year’s festival include Oleg, the first documentary film from famed Australian filmmaker Nadia Tass. Oleg tells the true story of Soviet-era film star Oleg Vidov, who famously defected to the West in 1985.
Women also direct many of the festival’s short films, such as Cinzia Angelini’s Mila, an animated war story that takes on a child’s perspective; and Kadi Tsang’s Red Bean Soup, described by Tsang as “my Cantonese thesis film.”
Bay Area- and Marin-based filmmakers also get the spotlight at two different showcases.
“The goal has always been to support independent local and international filmmakers,” Shafa says. “We are still committed to our goal and happy to have been a launchpad for many independent filmmakers by showing their films for the first time at our festival. Our 20th year is no exception.”