What to watch, part two - Page 2

Short takes on week two of SF Internation Film Festival

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 plays Sat/30 and Tues/3


The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (Göran Hugo Olsson, Sweden/U.S.) Cinematic crate-diggers have plenty to celebrate, checking the results of The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. Swedish documentarian Göran Hugo Olsson had heard whispers for years that Swedish television archives possessed more archival footage of the Black Panthers than anyone in the states — while poring through film for a doc on Philly soul, he discovered the rumors were dead-on. With this lyrical film, coproduced by the Bay Area's Danny Glover, Olsson has assembled an elegant snapshot of black activists and urban life in America, relying on the vivid, startlingly crisp images of figures such as Stokely Carmichael and Huey P. Newton at their peak, while staying true to the wide-open, refreshingly nonjudgmental lens of the Swedish camera crews. Questlove of the Roots and Om'Mas Keith provide the haunting score for the film, beautifully historicized with shots of Oakland in the 1960s and Harlem in the '70s. It's made indelible thanks to footage of proto-Panther school kids singing songs about grabbing their guns, and an unforgettable interview with a fiery Angela Davis talking about the uses of violence, from behind bars and from the place of personally knowing the girls who died in the infamous Birmingham, Ala., church bombing of 1963. Sat/30, 9 p.m., Kabuki, and Tues/3, 6 p.m., New People. (Kimberly Chun)



Circumstance (Maryam Keshavarz, France/U.S./Iran/Lebanon) Thirteen (2003) goes to Tehran? The world of sex, drugs, and underground nightclubs in Iran provides the backdrop for writer-director Maryam Keshavarz's lusty, dreamy take on the passionate teenagers behind the hijabs. Risking jail and worse are the sassy, privileged Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and the beautiful, orphaned Shireen (Sarah Kazemy), who, much like young women anywhere, just want to be free — to swim, sing, dance, test boundaries, lose, and then find themselves. The difference here is that they're under constant, unnerving surveillance, in a country where more than 70 percent of the population is younger than 30. Nevertheless, within their mansion walls and without, beneath graffitied walls and undulating at intoxicating house parties, the two girls begin to fall in love with each other, as Atafeh's handsome, albeit creepy older brother Mehran (Palo Alto-bred Reza Sixo Safai) gazes on. The onetime musical talent's back from rehab, has returned to the mosque with all the zeal of the prodigal, and has hooked up with the Morality Police that enforces the nation's cultural laws. Filmed underground in Beirut, with layers that permit both pleasure and protest (wait for the hilarious moment when 2008's Milk is dubbed in Farsi), Circumstance viscerally transmits the realities and fantasies of Iranian young women on the verge. Sun/1, 6 p.m., and Tues/3, 6:15 p.m., Kabuki. (Chun)