SF Film Fest is back — here are 18 films you can’t miss

After having to scrap the event in 2020 and then go virtual in 2021, the San Francisco International Film Festival is returning to an in-person experience for its 65th anniversary celebration of the best in independent cinema worldwide.

And what a return. SFFILM 2022 features a dazzling slate of 130 films from 56 countries, all of which will be shown on the big screen at Castro, Vogue, Roxie and Victoria Cinemas in San Francisco and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The festival runs from April 21 to May 1.

Many filmmakers and cast members will show up, including director/star Cooper Raiff and Dakota Johnson of “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (April 30), while one of the biggest nights is a tribute to the phenomenal Michelle Yeoh. , who earns deserved praise for her performance in the wild and brilliant “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” “Killing Eve’s” Sandra Oh will take the Castro Stage with Yeoh at 6 p.m. on April 29 for a conversation at a party that includes a screening of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

A tribute to the hilarious and versatile Jenny Slate, who plays an endearing mollusk in “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 22 at The Castro and will include a screening of the anticipated film.

There are plenty of great movies to choose from. Here’s a look at eight movies that are definitely worth watching. Most individual screenings cost between $16 and $18; signature events and parties cost extra. Tickets, full schedule and more information are at sffilm.org.

Here is an overview of XX movies that are really worth watching.

“To stay awake”: When movies touch on the opioid epidemic, they don’t often focus on caregivers, those exasperated parents, lovers and friends who cling to slivers of hope that things will change. In director/screenwriter Jamie Sisley’s heartfelt feature, the focus is on teenage brothers Derek (Fin Argus) and Ethan (Wyatt Oleff) rather than their addicted mother Darlene (Chrissy Metz), who relies on her children to retrieve it after it fell. A topic like this seems to make you miserable, but Sisley finds broken bits of humanity, love, and humor in the script, even when family dysfunction is at breaking point. “Stay Awake” is told with delicacy and truth, an observant slice of broken-down American life that is sensitively told and acted out. Details: 7:30 p.m. April 21; Castro.

“892”: As he did in Steve McQueen’s “Red, White & Blue,” John Boyega proves he’s a force to be reckoned with when given a tough role. Based on a true story, “892” is a time bomb of a movie that nervously follows the second-by-second meltdown of ex-Marine Brian Brown-Easley as he takes bank clerks hostage when his disability check that he so badly needs does not arrive. Boyega is electrifying, sinking into the complexity of a broken man who has been crushed by an inhuman bureaucratic system. Director Abi Damaris Corbin keeps the tension tense in this claustrophobic setting, and it’s no wonder the Sundance Film Festival honored the impressive cast, which also includes the late Michael K. Williams, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton and Jeffrey Donovan. It is a selection of masterpieces. Details: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; the Castro.

“Really Smooth Cha Cha”: Actor/filmmaker/screenwriter Cooper Raiff avoids a second crisis with a gleeful follow-up to 2020’s “[email protected]$house.” And again, he excels at massaging the flaws of the overworked rom-com format. Raiff plays kind Andrew, a 22-year-old college graduate looking for his career rudder while sending him back to his hometown of Long Island. He lands a concert to entertain the crowds at bar mitzvahs and he meets Domino (Dakota Johnson), there with his autistic daughter. Raiff deviates from the routine, creating complications and stories that never seem contrived. As Andrew’s loving manic-depressive mother, Lesley Mann is top notch. Ditto Raul Castillo as Domino’s hardworking boyfriend. Details: 7:30 p.m. April; the Castro; closing night screening.

In addition to these Big Nights, we also recommend these films.

“Black Mothers Love and Resist”: Débora Souza Silva and her team follow two remarkable black mothers – Wanda Johnson of Oakland, whose son Oscar Grant was killed by a BART cop in 2009, and Angela Williams, whose son Ulysses had a run-in with police in Troy, Alabama, who got ugly – as they go on a mission to change a broken system. Their tireless commitment to advocating that action be taken to prevent future tragedies from occurring shines through with passion in Silva’s powerful documentary. Details: 8:30 p.m. April 29; Roxie.

“American justice on trial”: In Andrew Abrahams and Herb Ferrette’s illuminating 40-minute documentary, the 1968 murder trial of Black Panthers co-founder Huey Newton goes under the microscope – from media coverage to legal strategies used for jury deliberation. It gets a world premiere here. Details: 6 p.m. April 22; Roxie.

” Civil war ” : Actress and producer Eva Longoria Bastón steps into the director’s ring and delivers a knockout blow, a gripping documentary about a culture-dividing boxing match between Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez and Mexican American Oscar De La Hoya. It’s one of the most exciting sports documentaries you’re likely to see in 2022. Details: Noon April 23, Victoria; 7:45 p.m. April 24; BAMPFA.

“Nothing Compares”: What prompted Irish singer/songwriter Sinead O’Connor to rip a photo of the pope off television, an act that shook the world even without social media? Kathryn Ferguson’s documentary provides insight and makes a compelling case that O’Connor – who endured a terrible childhood – was an artist ahead of her time: a vocal feminist and objector to the sins of the Church and society. society in general. Details: 8:45 p.m. on April 29; Victoria.

“I didn’t see you there”: Reid Davenport, a former Oakland resident, shares what everyday life is like for someone in a wheelchair. His unforgettable personal documentary won him a Sundance Directing Award. Attend a screening and you will understand why. Details: 6 p.m. April 29, Victoria; 3:00 p.m. April 30, BAMPFA.

“Fire of Love”: Berkeley documentary filmmaker Sara Dosa creates an exhilarating experience that celebrates the art of filmmaking and the accomplishments of its central subjects – the intrepid late volcanologist couple Katia and Maurice Krafft. It demands to be seen, heard and felt on the biggest screen imaginable. Details: 1 p.m. on April 23; the Castro; 5 p.m. April 24; BAMPFA.

“Navalny”: In a documentary as relevant as tomorrow’s headlines, Daniel Roher gives us a clear picture of upstart Alexei Navalny. He also envisions it as a thriller as he and others try to track down who poisoned Vladimir Putin’s imprisoned vocal challenger. Details: 4:30 p.m. April 23; Castro.

“Mud Water”: My-Linh Le from the Bay Area mixes mysticism and dance to create a unique magic thanks to a close-knit group of dancers often spotted on BART. In this captivating 31-minute experimental film, a dancer finds himself at a crossroads – either staying with the group or venturing alone. Don’t miss this world premiere, which is part of the mid-length section. Details: 5:45 p.m. April 29; the Roxie.

“Both Sides of the Blade”: Unconventional risk-taker Claire Denis delivers one of our best films to date, a devious and disturbing triangulated romance that rekindles old grudges and longings and metaphorically reflects tangled political relations in the Middle East. How does she do this? All you have to do is watch this bewitching accompanied by the winning trio of splendid performances by Juliette Binoche, Vincent London and Grégoire Colin. Details: 8 p.m. on April 23; the Castro.

“Event”: Surely one of the most painfully relevant dramas on the lineup is Audrey Diwan’s Powerhouse, a very detailed look at a student in ’60s France who tries to get an abortion. Based on a memoir, it feels real and immediate in every scene. Anamaria Vartolomei’s performance will remain etched in your memory. Details: 7 p.m. April 22; BAMPFA; 6 p.m. April 23; Victoria.

“Outbreak”: Hanna Bergholm’s diabolical horror flick is as surreal and bizarre as David Lynch’s most offbeat production. A daughter rebels against her uptight influential mother by bringing home a large bird’s egg which then hatches a lot of weird trouble. It’s as inventive as it is weird, and consider that a bigger compliment. Details: 8:45 p.m. April 27; Roxie.

“Klondike”: Director/writer/editor Maryna Er Gorbach’s 2014 Ukrainian drama is gaining momentum following its world premiere at Sundance. It exposes the absurdity of war through the woes of expectant parents who live near the Russian border and have body parts strewn across their backyards. With his wide-angle shots and unforgettable, often violent images, Gorbach shows all the forces conspiring against the couple. It’s also based on a true story. Details: 8:30 p.m. April 22; Victoria; 7 p.m. May 1; BAMPFA.

“Utama”: In this quiet, deep lament over the ravages of climate change, the lives of an elderly Bolivian herding couple are forever changed as they step back to watch their roots and Quechuan existence shrivel up due to drought. Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s sad vision is both stunning and devastating. Details: 3 p.m. April 24; the Victoria; 6 p.m. April 28; BAMPFA.

“Palm trees and power lines”: Two uncomfortable performances from newcomer Lily McInerney and Johnathan Tucker fuel Jamie Dack’s unsettling feature. Judiciously using wide-angle shots for its most intense and unsettling moments, it serves as a warning to all of us as a charismatic predator (Tucker) manipulates a vulnerable teenage girl (McInerney). It’s tough and exceptionally well done. Details: 5:30 p.m. April 27; Victoria.

“Marte Um (Mars One)”: Rather than sounding a desperate note about life under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, director/screenwriter Gabriel Martins turns to the resilience of a black Brazilian family just trying to get by. Martins’ feature is made dynamic by its memorable characters – a daughter falling in love with a wealthy young woman, a son interested in science more than football, and two parents struggling with their own internal struggles. “Marte Um” is a delicious and joyful celebration of the unbreakable bonds that help us through the most difficult times, whether political or personal. Details: 8:45 p.m. April 22; Roxie; 7:45 p.m. April 23; BAMPFA.

Contact Randy Myers at [email protected]