SFFILM Festival Unveils 65th Lineup, from Michelle Yeoh Tribute to ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’

SFFILM Festival, San Francisco’s premier celebration of film, has unveiled its 65th lineup for this year’s return to in-person festivities. The 2022 program features more than 130 from 56 countries, with 56 percent helmed by female or non-binary filmmakers and 52 percent directed by BIPOC filmmakers. The 2022 Festival will run April 21–May 1, with tickets on sale now at sffilm.org. Screenings will take place at venues across the Bay Area, including the storied Castro Theatre and UC Berkeley’s BAMPFA.

While the festival features a variety of world and North American premieres, it will also serve as a Bay Area launchpad for a number of festival favorites, like Sundance darling “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (which Apple TV+ will roll out later this year), John Boyega–starrer “892,” NatGeo volcanologist documentary “Fire of Love,” Terence Davies’ “Benediction,” Claire Denis’ “Both Sides of the Blade,” Venice Golden Lion winner “Happening,” Sundance Best Director winner “Palm Trees and Power Lines” from Jamie Dack, and much more.

But also noteworthy are festival tributes to “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Michelle Yeoh, Jenny Slate and “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” avant-garde video essayist Trinh T. Minh-ha, and more.

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Curated by a collective of festival programmers, the lineup includes spotlights and jury competitions including Bay Area Voices, Cine Latino, Global Visions, SFFILM Supported, and the Golden Gate Awards with cash prizes. There are 14 Bay Area-specific stories, with seven films receiving financial and professional support through SFFILM Makers, the artist development program of SFFILM. The full lineup is below.

BIG NIGHTS

Opening Night: Stay Awake
Jamie Sisley (USA 2022, 94 min)
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Thu, Apr 21 7:30 PM CASTRO

Rarely conveyed in the headlines decrying the opioid epidemic are the personal struggles of addicts’ daily fight for sobriety and the hopeful resilience of their families. For teenagers Derek (Fin Argus) and Ethan (Wyatt Oleff), the situation is all too familiar as they pace the streets searching for their painkiller-dependent mother, Michelle. This Is Us star Chrissy Metz delivers a nuanced portrayal of guilt and shame that fearlessly digs into the trauma of recovery, while newcomers Argus and Oleff infuse the film with vulnerability and unexpected humor. First-time feature director Jamie Sisley masterfully builds a relatable world full of characters that vibrate with authenticity in this powerful, SFFILM-supported drama that will stick with you long after you exit the theater.

Centerpiece: 892
Abi Damaris Corbin (USA 2022, 103 min)

Wed, Apr 27 7:30 PM CASTRO

When a routine transaction turns into a bank heist, two employees find themselves at the whim of a man pushed to the limit. John Boyega delivers a riveting performance as former Marine Brian Brown-Easley who holds up a Wells Fargo in feverish desperation after his monthly disability check fails to arrive. At turns verbose and volatile, Brian just wants to be heard in hopes Veteran Affairs will issue his payment. Abi Damaris Corbin directs with clinical precision, packing every scene with emotional complexity and each frame with relentless tension, as 892 reveals the plight of a forgotten veteran crushed under the wheels of bureaucracy. Featuring the final performance of the late Michael K. Williams, this true story will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Closing Night: Cha Cha Real Smooth
Cooper Raiff (USA 2022, 107 min)

Sat, Apr 30 7:00 PM CASTRO

Andrew is a sweet, talkative, and deeply ambivalent 22-year-old. Fresh out of college and living with his mother (Leslie Mann), Andrew finds his reckless charm makes him the ideal go-to party starter for the bar and bat mitzvahs in his Long Island hometown. Andrew soon befriends single mother, Domino (Dakota Johnson) and her daughter Lola, and their lives become deeply entwined during the endless revelry of coming-of-age parties. As Andrew falls for a homelife that has no room for him, he is forced to face his desires and motives. Cooper Raiff writes, directs, produces, and stars in this hilarious, unexpected, and buoyant story about the people we love and the loves that define us.

MUSIC + FILM

32 Sounds
Sam Green (USA 2022, 95 min)

Sun, Apr 24 7:30 PM CASTRO

Festival favorite Sam Green returns with this immersive documentary, a poem in audio and images that explores the effect of sound on our lives, narrated by the filmmaker with a live score by JD Samson.

Land of Gold
Jon Else (USA 2021, 82 min)

Thu, Apr 28 7:30 PM CASTRO

Soprano Julia Bullock mesmerizes in this entrancing documentary that brings to vivid life John Adams’ and Peter Sellars’ opera Girls of the Golden West and the Gold Rush era that inspired it. SFFILM’s free screening of Land of Gold is presented in partnership with SF Opera and the Castro Theatre, both celebrating their centenary anniversaries. The film will be preceded by a performance from members of the Opera’s Adler Fellows program, a multi-year residency for opera’s most promising young artists. This is a Community Screening with free admission. RSVP required at [sffilm.org].

AWARDS

Persistence of Vision Award: Trinh T. Minh-ha

Fri, Apr 29 7:00 PM BAMPFA

Filmmaker, writer, composer Trinh T. Minh-ha is a Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work runs the gamut from feature films to multimedia installations to books. Her many awards include the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art; the 2006 Trailblazers Award at MIPDoc in Cannes, France; and the 1991 AFI National Independent Filmmaker Maya Deren Award. This year’s POV program will feature Trinh T. Minh-ha in conversation with Rizvana Bradley, Assistant Professor of Film and Media at UC Berkeley, followed by the North American premiere of Minh-ha’s latest film, What About China?

What About China?
Trinh T. Minh-ha (USA/China 2021, 135 min)
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

UC Berkeley professor and experimental filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha fascinates with this video essay examining the mercurial nature of China nearly half a century after the Cultural Revolution.

Sloan Science on Screen Award: Linoleum

Tue, Apr 26 7:30 PM VICTORIA

Linoleum is the SFFILM Festival recipient of the Sloan Science on Screen Award,. Presented through a partnership between SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the prize is part of SFFILM’s Sloan Science in Cinema initiative, which enhances public understanding of science through the language of film. This program will feature a post-screening discussion with director Colin West, star Jim Gaffigan, and a noted scientist.

Linoleum
Colin West (USA 2022, 101 min)

When a satellite falls from the sky, Cameron (Jim Gaffigan) finds his life upended. This sweet, quirky film leads to unexpected places, as Cameron searches for meaning and adventure amongst the stars.

TRIBUTES

A Tribute to Jenny Slate

Fri, Apr 22 7:30 PM CASTRO

An actor, voice performer, and comedian, Jenny Slate spent a season on Saturday Night Live (2009-2010) before achieving viral success with Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2010), the first of three animated shorts. Over the last dozen years, Slate has successfully juggled roles in big-screen features, such as Obvious Child (Festival 2014), for which she received a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination; Landline (Festival 2017); and Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) with parts in series like Parks and Recreation and The Great North and voice work in Big Mouth and Bob’s Burgers. Join us for a conversation with Jenny Slate and a screening of the big-screen feature of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2022).

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Dean Fleischer-Camp (USA 2021, 90 min)

Poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, this feature expansion of the beloved web series features the titular mollusk (voiced by Jenny Slate) looking after his Nana Connie (Isabella Rossellini) and ruminating on his home life and missing family. Recommended for ages 9 and up.

A Tribute to Michelle Yeoh: In Conversation with Sandra Oh

Fri, Apr 29 6:00 PM CASTRO

Michelle Yeoh is recognized as one of the greatest and most successful actresses. From martial arts goddess to Bond Girl, Yeoh has graced the screen in myriad Hollywood blockbusters and shattered convention.

Yeoh’s extensive filmography is a collection of iconic roles, from Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Rob Marshall’s Memoirs of a Geisha, to Roger Spottiswoode’s Tomorrow Never Dies, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, and John Chu’s romantic comedy, Crazy Rich Asians, the highest-grossing romantic comedy in the U.S. in the past 10 years. Additionally, she recently joined the Marvel stratosphere when she starred in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, one of the highest grossing films of 2021.

The acclaimed actress is poised to have a remarkable 2022, as she will soon be seen in the highly-anticipated Daniels’ feature, Everything Everywhere All At Once for A24, premiering opening night at SXSW 2022. She will also reprise her role from James Cameron’s Avatar and will be seen in the forthcoming sequels as well as Paul Feig’s The School for Good and Evil and The Witcher Blood Origin for Netflix.

Rotten Tomatoes ranked Yeoh as the greatest action heroine of all time. She has been featured in People magazine’s annual “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” issue and the BBC featured her on their list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world.

In 2016, Yeoh was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations and is actively involved in sustainability and environmental efforts.

SPECIAL SCREENING

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON

Mon, Apr 25 7:00 PM CASTRO

Veteran Hong Kong martial arts icons Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat face off against newcomer Ziyi Zhang over a stolen sword in Ang Lee’s electrifying epic. Set in the 19th century, during the last days of the Qing Dynasty, Lee’s breakthrough film is an exhilarating blend of lush visuals, awe-inspiring action, and romantic adventure. A cinematic phenomenon, the film boasts an exquisite cast; Peter Pau’s luminous, Oscar®-winning cinematography; Tom Yip’s costume and Oscar-winning production design; and Yuen Woo Ping’s breathtaking fight choreography with its spectacular, gravity-defying wirework. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards®, including Best Director and Best Picture, it won four, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Score for Dun Tan’s vivid compositions. Twenty-two years after its release, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, screening at the Festival in glorious 35 mm, retains its power to thrill.

SCHOOLS AT THE FESTIVAL

Since 1991, the Schools at the Festival program introduces students ages 6 to 18 to international film and the art of filmmaking while promoting media literacy, deepening insights into other cultures, enhancing foreign language aptitude, developing critical thinking skills, and inspiring a lifelong appreciation of cinema. This section is programmed exclusively for teachers and students.

DOCUMENTARIES: INTERNATIONAL

Children of the Mist
Diễm Hà Lệ (Vietnam 2021, 93 min)

Fri, Apr 22 5:30 PM VOGUE
Sat, Apr 23 3:00 PM BAMPFA

Living in isolation from the modern world in the mountains of Vietnam, feisty Hmong teenager Di must decide if she will succumb to tradition or bravely choose a different fate.

The Devil’s Drivers
Mohammed Abugeth, Daniel Carsenty (Qatar/France/Lebanon/Germany 2021, 93 min)

Mon, Apr 25 8:30 PM ROXIE

“On the left side is Israel; on the right side is Palestine.” Drivers Hamouda and Ismail risk prison or worse to smuggle Palestinian workers into Israel through gaps in the border wall.

La Guerra Civil
Eva Longoria Bastón (UK/USA/Mexico 2022, 102 min)

Sat, Apr 23 12:00 PM VICTORIA
Sun, Apr 24 7:45 PM BAMPFA

The legendary boxing rivalry between Mexican Julio César Chávez and Mexican American Oscar De La Hoya sets the stage for an examination of identity, tradition, and nationality in Eva Longoria Bastón’s gripping documentary.

Midwives
Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing (Myanmar/Canada/Germany 2022, 89 min)

Amidst Myanmar’s escalating civil war, a Buddhist midwife and her Muslim apprentice overcome personal and professional differences to care for their patients at a village clinic in this nuanced documentary.

Mon, Apr 25 6:00 PM ROXIE
Sun, May 1 2:30 PM BAMPFA

No Simple Way Home
Akuol de Mabior (South Sudan/Kenya/South Africa 2022, 85 min)
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Sat, Apr 23 8:30 PM VOGUE

First-time filmmaker Akuol de Mabior examines the legacy of her father, John Garang de Mabior, revered as the founding father of South Sudan.

Nothing Compares
Kathryn Ferguson (UK/Ireland 2022, 97 min)

Fri, Apr 29 8:45 PM VICTORIA

Profiling Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor’s speedy rise to fame and ensuing controversial stances, this documentary serves as an essential reminder of just how ahead of her time she was.

DOCUMENTARIES: USA

Bitterbrush
Emelie Mahdavian (USA 2021, 91 min)

Sun, Apr 24 5:30 PM VICTORIA

Seasonal cattlewomen Hollyn and Colie contemplate their itinerant lives as they herd livestock through the majestic mountain ranges of the American West in this illuminating observational documentary.

Black Mothers Love & Resist
Débora Souza Silva (USA 2022, 102 min)
WORLD PREMIERE

Fri, Apr 29 8:30 PM ROXIE

Wanda Johnson and Angela Williams, mothers of young Black men victimized by police brutality, come together and build a network of community-led support, mutual aid, and healing in this trenchant documentary.

The Exiles
Violet Columbus, Ben Klein (USA/Taiwan/France/China 2021, 96 min)

Sat, Apr 23 3:00 PM VICTORIA
Sun, Apr 24 2:00 PM BAMPFA

Never-before-seen footage of Chinese dissidents enmeshed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and their bittersweet reflections 30 years later anchor this hybrid of cine-memoir and archival excavation focused on Who Killed Vincent Chin? documentary firebrand Christine Choy.

Fire of Love
Sara Dosa (USA/Canada 2021, 93 min)

Sat, Apr 23 1:00 PM CASTRO
Sun, APR 24 5:00 PM BAMPFA

A couple’s passion for one another is inextricably bound with the explosive geology that is their life’s work in this stunning documentary portrait of volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft narrated by Miranda July.

I Didn’t See You There
Reid Davenport (USA 2022, 76 min)

Fri, Apr 29 6:00 PM VICTORIA
Sat, Apr 30 3:00 PM BAMPFA

Oakland resident, filmmaker, and disability activist Reid Davenport reflects on matters of visibility, family, and the freak show in his latest personal documentary, winner of Sundance’s Directing Award for US Documentary.

The Janes
Tia Lessin, Emma Pildes (USA 2022, 101 min)

Sat, Apr 30 6:00 PM VICTORIA

Timely and fascinating, this examination of a 1960s-era underground abortion collective is a meditation on national anxieties and a capsule of unsung heroes.

Jeannette
Maris Curran (USA 2022, 78 min)
WORLD PREMIERE

Sat, Apr 23 3:15 PM ROXIE

Filmed in striking vérité, this portrait of competitive bodybuilder and queer single mother Jeannette unfolds as a nuanced story about coping with trauma in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

Master of Light
Rosa Ruth Boesten (USA/Netherlands 2022, 84 min)

Sun, Apr 24 2:45 PM VOGUE

Classical painter George Anthony Morton strives for success while struggling to reacclimate to his Kansas City hometown and reconnect with family members after a period of incarceration.

Mija
Isabel Castro (USA 2022, 88 min)

Thu, Apr 28 5:30 PM VICTORIA

Young Mexican American music manager Doris Muñoz strives to support her undocumented family while defining her own career as a musician and discovering new talent in singer-songwriter Jacks Haupt.

Navalny
Daniel Roher (USA/Germany/Russia 2022, 98 min)

Sat, Apr 23 4:30 PM CASTRO

During a flight from Siberia to Moscow in August 2020, someone poisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny with a deadly nerve agent. This riveting documentary explores the question of who tried to kill him and why.

Riotsville, USA
Sierra Pettengill (USA 2022, 91 min)

Sun, Apr 24 12:30 PM VICTORIA
Sun, May 1 4:30 PM BAMPFA

This stunning essay film employs a treasure trove of archival US military recordings and 1960s broadcast TV as the foundation for a piercing interrogation into the origins of the militarization of American police.

Sell/Buy/Date
Sarah Jones (USA 2022, 97 min)

Sun, Apr 24 5:30 PM VOGUE

Tony Award®-winning performer and playwright Sarah Jones transforms and updates her solo show into a richly empathetic hybrid documentary as she travels the country to interview real-life sex workers. Executive produced by Meryl Streep.

The Thief Collector
Allison Otto (USA 2022, 94 min)

Fri, Apr 22 5:30 PM VICTORIA

A surreal 20th-century mystery unfolds in this fascinating documentary that unpacks the audacious 1985 heist of a Willem de Kooning painting from an Arizona museum and its shocking recovery 32 years later.

TikTok, Boom.
Shalini Kantayya (USA 2022, 90 min)

Sat, Apr 30 3:00 PM VICTORIA

For young people, TikTok is the most popular platform for creating personalized content. But behind the cute videos lurk issues of censorship and data mining. This documentary deftly explores both sides of the TikTok boom.

We Feed People
Ron Howard (USA 2022, 90 min)

Sat, Apr 23 5:30 PM VOGUE

Acclaimed director Ron Howard helms this uplifting documentary profiling renowned chef José Andrés and the World Central Kitchen, his nonprofit dedicated to feeding people in the wake of natural and humanitarian catastrophes.

NARRATIVES: INTERNATIONAL

Benediction
Terence Davies (UK 2021, 137 min)
U.S. Premiere

Fri, Apr 29 4:00 PM BAMPFA
Sat, Apr 30 3:00 PM CASTRO

Terence Davies separates man from myth in his masterly portrait of acclaimed antiwar poet Siegfried Sassoon, employing archival footage, gleefully catty dialogue, and an artful crosscutting between the different eras of his subject’s fraught and complex life.

Both Sides of the Blade
Claire Denis (France 2022, 116 min)

Sat, Apr 23 8:00 PM CASTRO

Master director Claire Denis reunites with Juliette Binoche to tell the passionate story of a woman torn between two men. Co-starring Vincent Lindon and Grégoire Colin, the film is scored by Denis regular Stuart Staples.

The Box
Lorenzo Vigas (Mexico/USA 2021, 93 min)

Sun, Apr 24 5:00 PM ROXIE

A simple trip to recover his father’s remains evolves into an eye-opening introduction to the insidious world of factory labor for teenager Hatzin when he meets local promoter Mario.

Costa Brava, Lebanon
Mounia Akl (Lebanon/France/Spain/Sweden/Denmark/Norway/Qatar 2021, 106 min)

Sun, Apr 24 12:00 PM VOGUE
Sat, Apr 30 5:30 PM BAMPFA

Set in the near future but reflecting on current crises in present-day Lebanon, this tense debut portrays three generations of the Badri family, who have retreated from the chaos of Beirut to a rural homestead.

The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future
Francisca Alegría (Chile/France/USA/Germany 2022, 93 min)

Thu, Apr 28 8:30 PM ROXIE

In her debut feature, director Francisca Alegría creates a magical realist tale of familial legacy and loss, set against a backdrop of environmental decline.

The Employer and the Employee
Manolo Nieto (Uruguay/Argentina/Brazil/France 2021, 110 min)

Sun, Apr 24 8:30 PM VICTORIA

In this slow-burning drama, the dynamics of money and power play out between two young fathers in the wake of a tragedy on a Uruguayan farm.

Fire on the Plain
Zhang Ji (China 2021, 113 min)

Sun, Apr 24 8:45 PM VOGUE
Thu, Apr 28 8:00 PM BAMPFA

The son of a local gangster and daughter of a factory worker conspire to flee their desperate lives as a serial killer runs rampant in this Chinese social realist neo-noir.

The Gravedigger’s Wife
Khadar Ayderus Ahmed (Finland/Germany/France 2021, 83 min)

Sun, Apr 24 8:00 PM ROXIE

A loving husband takes to the road to ask for financial help from extended family when chronic kidney disease threatens his wife’s life in this warm and humanistic drama.

Happening
Audrey Diwan (France 2021, 100 min)

Fri, Apr 22 7:00 PM BAMPFA
Sat, Apr 23 6:00 PM VICTORIA

A bright literature student in 1960s France refuses to let an unwanted pregnancy shatter her life, and seeks an illegal abortion in this powerful drama adapted from Annie Ernaux’s memoir.

Hatching
Hanna Bergholm (Finland 2021, 87 min)

Wed, Apr 27 8:45 PM ROXIE

A young gymnast copes with her mother’s overwhelming demands by caring for a large, mysterious egg. When it hatches, things quickly get out of hand.

The Hill Where Lionesses Roar
Luàna Bajrami (Kosovo/France 2021, 83 min)

Sat, Apr 23 2:45 PM VOGUE

A trio of lifelong Kosovar friends facing dead-end futures hatches a wild plan that promises an ecstatic moment of freedom and maybe much more in this luminous coming-of-age tale.

Hit the Road
Panah Panahi (Iran 2021, 94 min)

Fri, Apr 22 8:30 PM VOGUE
Sat, Apr 23 5:30 PM BAMPFA

In Panah Panahi’s auspicious feature debut, an eccentric family takes a road trip through sun-drenched Iranian landscapes as they accompany their eldest son to a mysterious destination.

Întregalde
Radu Muntean (Romania 2021, 104 min)

Wed, Apr 27 8:45 PM VICTORIA
Sat, Apr 30 7:45 PM BAMPFA

Wryly funny and suspenseful, this Cannes hit portrays a trio of Romanian aid workers whose SUV gets stuck on a logging road in remote Transylvania.

Lo Invisible
Javier Andrade (Ecuador/France 2021, 85 min)

Sat, Apr 30 9:15 PM VICTORIA

In her opulent home in the Ecuadorian countryside, Luisa sinks further and further into a forlorn state brought on by a bout with postpartum depression.

Klondike
Maryna Er Gorbach (Ukraine/Turkey 2022, 100 min)

Fri, Apr 22 8:30 PM VICTORIA
Sun, May 1 7:00 PM BAMPFA

Armed conflict hits home in the most vivid way imaginable when mortar fire decimates one wall of the farmhouse belonging to married Ukrainian couple Irka and Tolik in this striking drama based on real events.

Mars One
Gabriel Martins (Brazil 2022, 115 min)

Fri, Apr 22 8:45 PM ROXIE
Sat, Apr 23 7:45 PM BAMPFA

Featuring four vibrant characters from working-class Brazil, this tender film is a delightful portrait of a mutually nurturing family who dares to dream.

Neptune Frost
Anisia Uzeyman, Saul Williams (Rwanda/USA 2021, 105 min)

Sat, Apr 23 8:45 PM ROXIE
Wed, Apr 27 7:00 PM BAMPFA

Replete with mind-altering visual and sonic imagery, this Afrofuturist mélange of music, poetry, and resistance is hypnotic and visionary in its depiction of a genderqueer community of hackers and techno poets.

Private Desert
Aly Murituba (Brazil 2021, 121 min)

Mon, Apr 25 8:30 PM VICTORIA

In this passionate melodrama reflecting on toxic masculinity, a police officer from southern Brazil facing brutality charges travels north to find his internet love Sara, only to be shocked by her flesh-and-blood reality.

Sonne
Kurdwyn Ayub (Austria 2022, 88 min)

Sat, Apr 30 5:00 PM ROXIE

When three teenage girlfriends make a home music video to R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” their moment of uninhibited camaraderie becomes an unexpected viral sensation in Vienna.

Sublime
Mariano Biasin (Argentina 2022, 97 min)

Sat, Apr 23 9:00 PM VICTORIA

Irresistible garage rock enhances this winning coming-of-age tale as teenage bass player Manu, swept up in a cascade of emotions and hormones, falls in love with his BFF and bandmate Felipe.

Sun & Daughter
Catalina Razzini (Bolivia/Spain/Germany 2021, 84 min)

Sat, Apr 23 12:00 PM VOGUE

At Lake Titicaca in the mountains of Bolivia, 10-year-old Lucia concocts a mythical reunion with her father, who is away working in La Paz.