San Francisco Black Film Festival

Pub date May 30, 2006
WriterCheryl Eddy

REVIEW Other local fests may grab more attention, but the ever-growing San Francisco Black Film Festival, now in its eighth year, is well worth seeking out for its consistently strong and diverse programming. The opening night film, Son of Man, sets the story of Jesus Christ in modern South Africa; other narratives (features and shorts) in the fest explore family ties, romance, and social issues. However, SFBFF’s most fascinating entries come in the form of its many documentaries, which take on everything from the origins of AIDS to maverick filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles whose cinematic portrait bears the fest’s wittiest title, How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (And Enjoy It). Micah Schaffer’s moving, insightful Death of Two Sons explores the eerily parallel lives of Amadou Diallo the unarmed Guinean immigrant gunned down in 1999 by trigger-happy NYPD officers while innocently reaching for his wallet and a white American Peace Corps volunteer stationed in Diallo’s home village. The aftermaths of both men’s deaths (Diallo’s killers were acquitted; the African cabdriver who caused the fatal crash served jail time) speak troubling volumes about race-relations-as-international-relations. Another well-made doc that spins an often infuriating tale is The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, which mixes vintage footage with contemporary interviews in its detailed look at the 1955 murder that’s credited with launching the modern civil rights movement. (Cheryl Eddy)


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