With movie theaters shuttered and film festivals delayed, numerous independent features scrambled to get their features shown. Many have followed a similar plight pattern of KQED’s documentary “Dear Homeland.”
Instead of the planned March world premiere at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, “Homeland” needed to take another route and is now receiving a June 3 virtual unveiling. Instead of an onstage festival interview and Q&A session, there will be a livestream afterward that includes a musical performance and chats with the director and the film’s subject.
It’s being made possible through a partnership with Brava For Women in the Arts, The Center for Cultural Power (formerly Culture/Strike) and the Roxie Theater.
Expect even more films to follow suit.
Here is a review of “Dear Homeland” and four other new or upcoming streaming releases with Bay Area connections.
• “Dear Homeland”: Director Claudia Escobar’s eloquent documentary delicately balances relevant interviews and moving musical performances for the telling of Bay Area musician Diana Gameros’ inspiring story about being both artist and advocate. Gameros’ songs are soul-stirring beauties and relate her feelings and challenges of being undocoumented and longing for family. Escobar’s realization that Gameros’ music is the best vehicle for greater compassion and understanding of the immigrant experience makes the film itself all that more necessary. (Details: 6-7:30 p.m., June 3; https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-premiere-dear-homeland-tickets-104689868214
• “Mephisto”: The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive continues its virtual screening partnership with KINO and are offering three can’t-miss features from István Szabó, credited as one of the primary members of the Hungarian New Wave movement. The Oscar-winning “Mephisto” is a fine place to start, a slow-burning descent into mad ambition as an actor sells his soul to become a star during Nazi rule. Szabó’s direction creates a dream-nightmare atmosphere in sync with the material. Klaus Maria Brandauer’s performance is one of the most memorable acting feats of all time. (Details: https://kinonow.com/szabo-bampfa)
• “Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own”: The sculpture pieces created by the Poland-born artist are astonishing feats, impressive not only in stature and imagination, but originality. In this concise yet complete hourlong documentary, director Daniel Traub reaches into Rydingsvard’s painful past and career while sprinkling in thoughts from other artists and from von Rydingsvard herself along with how these works get created and installed. Some screenings include interviews with Traub and von Rydingsvard. (Virtual cinema at Pacific Film Archive; Christopher B. Smith Rafael Theater and the Roxie; http://icarusfilms.com/other/playdate#urs)
• “Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street”: Peaches pops up again in Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen’s documentary depicting the eclipsed career of Mark Patton, the heartthrob star of the first Freddy Krueger sequel — a gay allegory in the guise of a horror film. The makers of “Scream, Queen!” review the criticism of the film and how Patton, who is gay, was ostracized from Hollywood. Perfect viewing to kick off Gay Pride Month. (Available on Shudder and various platforms)
• “You Don’t Nomi”: Is Paul Verhoeven’s asinine “Showgirls” actually a masterpiece? That thought and other takes of that infamous NC-17-rated Las Vegas strippers epic get expressed in writer/director Jeffrey McHale’s entertaining documentary. One of its pleasures is listening in on what Bay Area icon Peaches Christ has to say about Midnight Mass’s raucous take on the 1995 dud. (Available to stream June 9)