Scenes of a Crime (Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh, U.S., 2011) Scenes of a Crime proves that "good cop/bad cop" interrogation techniques are used in the real world, not just crime films. It also affirms, distressingly, that the American justice system often travels through murky waters. When a baby dies under mysterious circumstances, his father is taken into custody; after an epic interrogation, he confesses to causing his child's death, complete with a harrowing demonstration. At his trial, experts argue over the medical evidence, but the police-station videotape remains the case's most pivotal factor. Was the father guilty, or did he deliver a false confession, egged on by the cops' manipulative questions? The verdict says one thing; after watching Crime, you may believe another. Oct. 22, 12:30 p.m., and Oct. 24, 9:30 p.m., Roxie; Fri/14, 2:45 p.m., Shattuck.
With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (Will Hess and Nikki Frakes, U.S., 2011) DocFest's closing-night film defines "hagiography," but if you don't love Marvel Comics maestro Stan Lee, you might not have a pulse. Basically everyone ever associated with a Lee-based project (movie stars, directors, artists) pops up to fawn over the 88-year-old dynamo, but most delightful is the man himself, a hilarious, heartfelt character who has clearly spent his entire adult life working at a job he loves, influencing and entertaining millions along the way. With Great Power doesn't quite come out and say it, but I will: he's a real-life superhero. Oct. 23, 9:30 p.m., and Oct. 27, 7:15 p.m., Roxie; Oct. 20, 9:30 p.m., Shattuck.
The Woodmans (Scott Willis, U.S., 2010) Francesca Woodman jumped off a building in 1981 when she was 22, despondent over the fact that her photographs hadn't found a niche in New York's competitive art world. She was no stranger to competition — she'd grown up with a parents who placed art-making above all other obligations. Fast-forward to the 21st century, and Francesca remains the most-acclaimed Woodman; her haunting black-and-white photos, often featuring the artist's nude figure, have proven hugely influential in the realms of both fine art and fashion. She was, as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art website says (an exhibit of her work opens Nov. 5), "ahead of her time." Scott Willis' documentary features extensive interviews with her parents, George and Betty, and to a lesser extent Francesca's brother, Charles (also an artist); the film is both Woodman bio and incisive exploration of the family's complex dynamics. Most fascinating is Charles, who remarks of his daughter's posthumous success, "It's frustrating when tragedy overshadows work." But after her death, he took up photography, making images that resemble those Francesca left behind. Sat/15, 7:15 p.m., and Oct. 22, 12:30 p.m., Roxie; Sun/16, 12:30 p.m., Shattuck.
SAN FRANCISCO DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
Oct 14-27, $11
3117 16th St, SF
2230 Shattuck, Berk