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With some of the best nationwide film festivals canceled or moving to the late summer and fall in the Bay Area, regional indie filmmakers could use support. So let’s watch their movies.
Beginning this week, Bay City News Service will put forth five recommendations from documentaries to narratives, and even on to shorts. What’s the only requirement? That they’re from Bay Area filmmakers.
• “Rodents of Unusual Size”: Bay Area filmmakers Chris Metzler, Quinn Costello and Jeff Springer team up for a fascinating documentary that’s set in Louisiana and shoots off to show the various ways that residents are coping with the invasion of nutria — ginormous rats. This efficiently told and creatively structured nonfiction film takes a nonjudgmental look at families with guns slaying the vermin and those who use them as fur or pets. You have to see it to believe it. (Available for rent on https://grasshopperfilm.vhx.tv/checkout/rodents-of-unusual-size/purchase and various platforms. It’s a cheap rental too.)
• “Pick of the Litter”: For an upbeat documentary that the family will adore, wag those tails over to Bay Area filmmakers Dana Nachman and Don Hardy’s heartwarmer that tags along with San Rafael-based Guide Dogs for the Blind where they pair up canines with foster families. Expect to shed a tear or 30. If your family loved it, then check out the series on Disney+. (Available on various platforms at a pittance; on Hulu).
• “Bitter Melon”: Family dysfunction only gets accentuated around the holidays, and that’s certainly true in inventive S.F. filmmaker H.P. Mendoza’s twisty black comedy that shocks as well as makes you laugh. You won’t be able to forget Mendoza’s fictional Filipino American brood, nor the desperate and surprising steps they take in Daly City. (Available on various platforms for a pittance.) P.S.: Check out Mendoza’s hilarious Twitter video about working from home during these crazy times at https://twitter.com/
• “Kicks”: El Cerrito native Justin Tipping based his first feature on an incident that happened to him as a teen when he got beaten up for his Air Jordans. Shot in Richmond and Oakland, Tipping’s ambitious narrative navigates around macho behavior and retaliation. Two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali co-stars and he’s tremendous as usual. (Available on various platforms for a pittance.)
• “Pushing Dead”: San Franciscan Tom E. Brown’s 2016 romantic drama is just what the doctor ordered now, a compassionate, tender and funny tale. The screenplay and the script are both firsts. James Roday plays Dan, an HIV-positive writer struggling through the bureaucratic health care industry while trying to make ends meet in an expensive San Francisco. Danny Glover co-stars. (Available for a pittance. If you have Amazon Prime, it’s free.)