With some of the best nationwide film festivals canceled or moving to late summer or fall in the Bay Area, regional indie filmmakers could use support. So let’s watch their movies.
Local News Matters will put forth five recommendations from documentaries to narratives, and even on to shorts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s the only requirement? That the filmmakers have ties to the Bay Area.
“The Kill Team”: UC Berkeley journalism grad Dan Krauss made not one, but two powerful films about the malicious use force during wartime, one a riveting 2014 documentary and another that turned the true story about a whistleblowing soldier with an excellent Alexander Skarsgård and Nat Wolff into a 2019 drama. ($2.99 rental on most platforms.)
“The Royal Road”: With a soothing voice and honest observations, adventurous San Francisco filmmaker Jenni Olson shows a choreographer’s grace as she pirouettes around her grand passions — film, attractions to elusive women, and California’s rich history. The result is a wistfully profound experience. ($1.99 rental on many platforms.)
“Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?”: Speaking of the UC Berkeley Journalism Department, here’s a gripping, informative work from a member of the Investigative Reporting Program, Zachary Stauffer. It’s no surprise that Stauffer’s documentary excels in tenacious reporting as it uncovers the tragic story of a military member issuing a warning about faulty helicopters, a plea overridden by authorities. His brave widow, Nicole, demands answers. (Amazon Prime and other platforms.)
“The Diary of a Teenage Girl”: Before she directed the Oscar nominees “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” former Alameda resident Marielle Heller hit the feature-length scene with this observant, sexually frank adaptation of a graphic novel. Heller brings to rich life the anything-goes Bay Area of the mid-1970s while capturing the boredom and longings of a curious teen (Bel Powley) and the attention that her mother’s hunky boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgård) pays to her. (Cheap rental on various platforms.)
“Oh Lucy!”: In 2018, San Francisco filmmaker Atsuko Hirayanagi debuted her first feature-length debut to universal acclaim. So why have so few heard about it? Dunno. Here’s your opportunity to catch this Anne Tyler-esque character-driven drama that is funny, sad and liberating. Shinobu Terajima is sensational as a desk-bound, passed-up desk worker in Japan. At night she takes English language classes from a charismatic teacher (Josh Hartnett). When he vanishes, Lucy ditches her lonely life to search for him. Hirayanagi’s film creates realistic characters stuck in an endless loop of their own concepts of what their dreams should be. ($2.99, available on various platforms.)