Pirates, politicians, ogres, and cults: DocFest highlights
Though numerous famous friends and admirers (Dolly Parton, Bill Clinton) chime in with words of praise, the footage of Richards just being Richards (at press conferences, on talk shows, and giving speeches — particularly her instantly legendary appearance at the 1988 Democratic National Convention) speaks for itself. If only Richards, who died in 2006, was still around; there'd be no one better suited to rip into the current crop of women-hating Republicans.
Shot like a thriller, Thymaya Payne's Stolen Seas is an eye-opening exploration of Somali piracy, with re-enactments (using actual audio recordings) of tense ransom negotiations between a Danish shipping company executive and a man retained by pirates to act as their translator. The film also delves into Somalia's troubled history and recent past, exposing the origins of the piracy epidemic — surprise, surprise: the United States has a hand in it — and the purely business reasons why it will likely continue more or less unchecked.
Though it's an East Coast tale, Bay Area activists may spot kindred spirits in the subjects of Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky's Battle for Brooklyn, about community members and business owners who organized against a fat-cat developer's plan to construct the Brooklyn Nets' new arena in their neighborhood. The central figure is Daniel Goldstein, a graphic designer turned rabble-rouser whose home is located within the project's footprint. Filmed over seven years, Battle for Brooklyn offers a well-articulated takedown of the shady politics surrounding the deal, with the happy added bonus of seeing Goldstein marry a fellow activist and father a daughter as the fight progresses.
Two more to add to your list: Eating Alabama, filmmaker Andrew Beck Grace's chronicle of his year-long quest to dine only on food grown by Alabama farmers (yeah, it sounds like a blog instead of a doc, but Grace's adventures in local foodie-ism, which give way to broader insights, are thought-provoking); and Nisha Pahuja's The World Before Her (also a recent selection at the 3rd I South Asian Film Festival), which reveals some startling contrasts and similarities between Miss India pageant contestants and girls who are being indoctrinated into the country's Hindu fundamentalist movement.
SAN FRANCISCO DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
Nov 8-21, most films $10-$12
2781 24th St., SF
3117 16th St., SF
2230 Shattuck, Berk.