San Francisco 2019: Documentary Overview

The 62nd San Francisco International Film Festival

April 10-23

Nonfiction makes up approximately half of this beloved Bay Area event’s 85 features.


While the bulk of the docs are well curated from other notable festivals, several projects make their world premiere in SF. Two of these appear in the Golden Gate Documentary Competition: Sara Dosa’s THE SEER AND THE UNSEEN, which focuses on an Icelandic woman on a mission to save the island’s elves from development that threatens the protected natural landscape; and Tom Shepard’s UNSETTLED: SEEKING REFUGE IN AMERICA, about the struggles of LGBT refugees seeking asylum in the US.


Other world premieres appear in Marquee Presentations, including: Michel Tolajian’s Q BALL, about San Quentin Prison’s basketball squad; Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s THE GREAT AMERICAN LIE, on the changing reality of the American Dream of social mobility; Cheryl Haines’ AI WEIWEI: YOURS TRULY, on the impact of letters written to political prisoners as part of one the Chinese artist’s major projects; Fred Brathwaite’s GRASS IS GREENER, on the racial dimension of marijuana’s criminalization; and Netflix’s food docuseries STREET FOOD, by creators David Gelb and Brian McGinn.


Finally, the two docs making their debuts in the Global Visions section are Douglas Tirola’s BLOODROOT, about the history of the titular Bridgeport CT vegetarian restaurant/bookstore and its dedicated feminist founders and life partners; and Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross’ WE BELIEVE IN DINOSAURS, which explores creationism through Kentucky’s contentious Ark Encounter museum.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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