Check out more coverage of the 10th San Francisco Documentary Film Festival in this week's Guardian.
Beaverbrook (Matthew Callahan, U.S., 2010) If you attended Camp Beaverbrook, which operated in California's Lake County from 1961-85, this film is required viewing. It offers an intensely wistful look at an old-fashioned sleepaway camp that thrived in an era before insurance companies started frowning on things like helmet-free kids galloping wildly on horseback. If you don't have Beaverbrook in your blood, however, watching 1979's Meatballs will offer a similar overdose of nostalgia, plus the huge added bonus of Bill Murray. Sun/16, 5 p.m. and Oct. 18, 7:15 p.m., Roxie; Fri/14, 7:15 p.m., Shattuck.
Heavy Metal Picnic (Jeff Krulik, U.S., 2010) Everyone's seen Heavy Metal Parking Lot, the 1986 Jeff Krulik and John Heyn short that became a pre-internet cult classic. Shot amid the beer-y, mullet-y, "party-as-a-verb" shenanigans that transpired before a Judas Priest-Dokken show, Parking Lot is a seminal document for metalheads and anthropologists alike. Twenty-five years later, the prolific Krulik, again with Hayn, returns to the subject matter that made him famous with Heavy Metal Picnic, a 666 ... er, 66-minute look at an notorious 1985 concert known as "The Full Moon Jamboree" — described as a "heavy metal Woodstock" by the nervous local press at the time. Basically, this is Parking Lot shifted to the Maryland woods; there's a concert going on in the background (the bigger acts were Pentagram and the Obsessed, but there's hardly any footage of them; local boys Asylum and show organizer Billy Gordon of Blue Rockers are prominently featured, however) but the main attraction is, as ever, the fans assembled for raucous raging.
Krulik adds depth to the footage shot that weekend (not by him; from what I can tell, he didn't actually attend) by tracking down various participants — from the show's perma-grinning hosts to the members of Asylum to the ne'er-do-wells who patrolled the crowds with a video camera, still a novelty at the time, pouncing on pretty girls and eliciting slurred commentary from the assembled shirtless masses — and interviewing the 21st century versions. The film also traipses back to the spot where the party was held, still intact but now closely surrounded by McMansions. Times have changed, hairlines have receded, cut-off T-shirts are no longer fashionable — but the pursuit of establishment-ranking good times remains irresistible. Essential hesher viewing. Sat/15 and Mon/17, 7:15 p.m., Roxie; Oct. 19, 9:30 p.m., Shattuck.
Peep Culture (Sally Blake, Canada, 2011) Sally Blake's Peep Culture adds one more layer of media to the journey of one Hal Niedzviecki, following him as he agrees (for the documentary) to have cameras installed in his house so he can join the legions of "lifecasters," everyday folks who believe sharing every detail of their lives will lead to internet-borne fame and possibly fortune. (His wife, who lives in the house too, along with the couple's young daughter, is less than thrilled by this.) Though his online profile was previously pretty low, Niedzviecki did build up some expertise on the matter: he's the author of The Peep Diaries: One Man's Journey into Self-Exposure, Surveillance, and the Future of Voyeurism. But why read the book when you can actually peep at the guy, as he goes about his everyday life (making lunch, sleeping, peeing) on camera?
Fortunately, there's more to Peep Culture than pee-pee. Niedzviecki also launches an investigation into the movement he's recently, somewhat reluctantly, become a part of. He visits a few folks who've become "famous" due to their online openness, then travels to Hollywood to attend a boot camp for people desperate to get cast on reality TV shows, then checks out the Fox Reality Channel's headquarters. That channel has since ceased to be, but reality shows are still going strong: hunting the next great American singer or chef, charting the foibles of Teen Moms and Housewives, exposing hoarders of objects and children, manufacturing lavish Kardashian weddings, etc., feeding the belief that absolutely anyone can be famous. (Which is, of course, the most important thing in life ever, aside from getting gloriously rich off that fame ... right?) Though Niedzviecki is not the most compelling film subject ever (probably the biggest reason his online "life" never really takes off — he can't quite put aside how ridiculous the whole thing is, and never lets totally loose) Peep Culture offers a timely take on the overshare era. Oct. 22 and 26, 7:15 p.m., Roxie; Fri/14, 12:30 p.m., Shattuck.
SAN FRANCISCO DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
Oct 14-27, $11
3117 16th St, SF
2230 Shattuck, Berk