Oct 11, 2017
San Francisco, CA – SFFILM has announced the lineup of programs for the third annual Doc Stories, November 2-5 at the Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street) and the Vogue Theatre (3290 Sacramento Street). Doc Stories gives the Bay Area a voice in the end-of-year awards season conversation by celebrating many of the year’s most important long- and short-form documentaries. The lineup features brand-new films yet to be released, alongside in-depth discussions with filmmaker guests in person, often in conversation with local thought leaders to illuminate the topics of the nonfiction films that will come to define the upcoming awards season. This year’s edition includes feature-length works, short films, new media presentations, conversations around key issues facing doc makers, and episodic content with the Opening Night presentation of the first part of Alex Gibney’s New HBO Documentary Film Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge.
“We are delighted to once again feature the most interesting end-of-year documentaries in our special showcase for Bay Area audiences and local Academy members,” said SFFILM’s Executive Director Noah Cowan. “Doc Stories has become a key stepping stone in awards season and a conversation starter for people interested in nonfiction film in this region and beyond. We are also delighted to support key Bay Area films with special screenings that underline the strength and commitment of filmmakers within our community.”
Showcasing bold nonfiction work, Doc Stories explores novel trends in filmmaking and celebrates the year’s most important new documentaries. Nearly every screening will include filmmakers and/or special guests to give Bay Area audiences a chance for insightful explorations on both the subjects of the films and the processes behind their creation. This year’s wide-ranging program showcases portraits of significant cultural entities from Rolling Stone magazine to Stanley Kubrick’s right-hand man to UN Ambassador Samantha Power. Also notable is the filmmaker’s presence in these finished works, whether it’s the two directors on site throughout the drama playing out at the Manor House Motel in Voyeur, or Jon Alpert, presenting 40 years of footage from numerous trips to Cuba in Cuba and the Cameraman. Doc Stories 2017 is rounded out by two diverse and compelling shorts programs and a special conversation about filmmakers’ responsibilities in the age of Trump.
Alongside the feature film selections, Doc Stories will showcase episodic nonfiction content with the Opening Night world premiere presentation of Alex Gibney’s latest work, HBO Documentary Film Rolling Stone: Stories form the Edge Part 1 and a number of programs of short films and multiplatform work, exploring the importance of those forms to contemporary journalism and the realities of online content consumption. Ordinary Heroes: Documentary Shorts, the New York Times Op-Docs program, and VR Day @ Doc Stories will offer multifaceted explorations of the different approaches to nonfiction storytelling in a new media context.
Doc Stories is presented by Showtime Documentary Films and patrons Katie Hall and Tom Knutsen. Major support is provided by Netflix, Vulcan Productions, New York Times Op-Docs, Catapult Film Fund, and Chicken & Egg Pictures. Additional support is provided by Heidi and Alex Fisher, the Laurel Inn, Samsung, and Fort Point Beer.
For complete program information, visit sffilm.org/presents. Guest information subject to change.
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 2
7:00 pm Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge Part 1 OPENING NIGHT [Castro] – WORLD PREMIERE
Alex Gibney and Blair Foster (USA, 120 min.) Co-director Alex Gibney expected in person, along with special guests Gus Wenner and Ben Fong-Torres.
Created in San Francisco in 1967, Rolling Stone magazine covered not just the popular music of the times but also the culture that it reflected and that embraced it. The first part of Alex Gibney and Blair Foster’s deep dive into this groundbreaking publication covers the magazine’s origins and early growth into a cultural and political pacesetter. Testimonials from key contributors and archival footage make for a rollicking journey through major stories, musicians, and moments.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 3
4:00 pm Filmmakers in Conversation: Non-Fiction Filmmaking in the Age of Trump [Vogue]
(TRT 75 min.) Filmmakers in person
Non-fiction filmmaking can cover a broad range of topics, from the personal to the pointedly political. What, if any, difference does our current political climate make in directors’ decisions about their documentary work? Join the creators behind several remarkable 2017 films to explore the complexities of filmmaking in present times. Participants to include: Laura Gabbert (Monument | Monumento), Greg Barker (The Final Year), Yance Ford (Strong Island), and others. The conversation will be moderated by AJ Schnack, Founding Director of Cinema Eye Honors.
6:30 pm New York Times Op-Docs [Vogue]
(TRT 64 min.) Filmmakers in person
The New York Times continues to support some of the most innovative and potent non-fiction filmmaking. Join us for the third edition of our annual exploration of the year’s best short documentaries from the paper’s award-winning series. Highlighting pressing current issues and whimsical diversions, the program takes us from the challenges of life with a loved one behind bars to the delicious terror of a high dive. Post-screening Q&A moderated by filmmaker Dawn Porter (Trapped).
8:45 pm Filmworker [Vogue]
Tony Zierra (USA, 89 min.)
Tony Zierra’s compelling and compassionate film is a portrait of Leon Vitali, who for many years served as Stanley Kubrick’s devoted right-hand man, often at the expense of his own personal health and welfare. Interweaving Vitali’s fascinating reminiscences with excerpts from Kubrick’s work, on-set footage, and tributes to Zierra’s exemplary work ethic from film historians and actors, Filmworker pays tribute to the herculean efforts of this devoted and tireless behind-the-scenes figure.
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 4
12:00-5:00 pm VR Day @ Doc Stories [Swank]
An exceptional showcase of nonfiction work, VR Day @ Doc Stories is an exciting exploration of virtual reality filmmaking. This short-form documentary program will bring together leading VR work that tackles social and cultural issues such as the global refugee crisis and animal rights. Experience cutting-edge stories from CNN VR and New York Times VR among others on Samsung Gear.
1:00 pm Ordinary Heroes: Documentary Shorts [Vogue]
(TRT 90 min.) Filmmakers in person
While politicians and pundits wax hyperbolic about immigration, crime, and the opioid epidemic, ordinary citizens experience these issues on a more personal scale. The people documented in these beautifully crafted short films are contending with life after prison, daily overdoses, and family separation. They are everyday heroes, doing the best they can to overcome the challenges that face them.
3:30 pm The Final Year [Vogue] – US PREMIERE
Greg Barker (USA, 89 min.) Director Greg Barker expected in person In 2016, filmmaker Greg Barker was given access to three key people on the foreign policy team of the Obama administration-Samantha Power, John Kerry, and Ben Rhodes-along with the President himself. Following these dedicated officials to far-flung locales such as Laos and Nigeria and depicting policy discussions on Syria, Russia, and Iran, the film provides a potent reminder that real diplomacy moves forward in baby steps rather than grand gestures or overheated rhetoric.
6:00 pm Arthur Miller: Writer [Vogue]
Rebecca Miller (USA, 98 min.) Director Rebecca Miller expected in person
Noting a public persona that was vastly different from the man she knew, Rebecca Miller determined that she might be the only filmmaker to accurately capture the life of the celebrated playwright. Over a period of more than 20 years, she filmed her father, engaging him in searching discussions about his life and his art. Family interviews, filmed versions of Miller’s plays, excerpts from his autobiography, and interviews with colleagues and family complete this moving posthumous portrait. An HBO Documentary Film.
8:30 pm Baltimore Rising [Vogue]
Sonja Sohn (USA, 93 min.) In April, 2015, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American man, died from spinal cord injuries incurred while being transported in a Baltimore police van. In this HBO Documentary Film, actress and filmmaker Sonja Sohn (The Wire) compassionately documents the events that unfolded in the aftermath of Gray’s death, following local activists, police, and community leaders as the city faces its troubled past and an uncertain future.
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 5
12:30 pm Cuba and the Cameraman [Vogue]
Jon Alpert (USA, 113 min.) Since the early 1970s, filmmaker Jon Alpert has been travelling to Cuba, filming the country and its people. From his earliest trips, working with the first generation of video cameras, Alpert gained the trust of Fidel Castro, landing the chance to travel with him on a 1979 trip to the US. But it’s the people of the country who are the real stars of this engaging film.
3:00 pm Love Means Zero [Vogue]
Jason Kohn (USA, 89 min.) Director Jason Kohn expected in person
Meet Nick Bollettieri, tennis academy owner and coach to some of the game’s greats. Bollettieri treated his top players like family, and the drama of his relationships with them sometimes approached Shakespearean status. Former protégé Andre Agassi’s refusal to participate in the film becomes the catalyst for filmmaker Jason Kohn’s good-natured probe into the psyche of this proud and prickly character, prone to referring to himself in the third person and not naturally inclined toward introspection.
5:30 pm Voyeur [Vogue]
Myles Kane and Josh Koury (USA, 96 min.) Co-directors Myles Kane and Josh Koury expected in person
Gay Talese’s The Voyeur’s Motel was a portrait of Gerald Foos, owner of the Manor House Motel, which he designed for the secret observation of its guests. The book’s release was plagued with controversy as questions arose about Foos’s reliability. Filmmakers Myles Kane and Josh Koury were on hand with unprecedented access as the story unfolded, capturing a fascinating dissection of the relationships between subject and author, and between the watcher and the watched.
8:30 pm Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton CLOSING NIGHT [Castro]
Chris Smith (USA/Canada, 94 min.) Director Chris Smith expected in person
In Milos’ Forman’s biopic Man on the Moon, Jim Carrey channeled the spirit of comedian Andy Kaufman and his alter ego Tony Clifton to uncanny and often unnerving results. Working with thousands of hours of behind-the-scenes footage from the set, Chris Smith (American Movie) creates a revelatory dual portrait and a meditation on comedy, acting, art, and life that is as provocative as its subjects.
Films: $13 for SFFILM members, $15 general
Conversation: $10 for SFFILM members, $12 general
VR Day @ Doc Stories: Registration required for access
SFFILM Presents SFFILM produces a robust slate of public programs throughout the year, including red carpet premiere events, advance member screenings, and in-depth film series. With diverse offerings and a commitment to excellence in world cinema, SFFILM is the home of great film in the Bay Area all year long. For more information visit sffilm.org/presents.
SFFILM champions the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM is a year-round nonprofit organization delivering screenings and events to more than 100,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 10,000 students and teachers annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services. For more information visit sffilm.org.