Film fest fever
Summer’s coming in hot. So is this lineup of independent film festivals
Last year was the highest-grossing domestic box-office year on record, but only 4% of the films released made one-third of the total $11.8 billion in revenue. The top-10 films of 2018 cashed in on big franchises (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), big super heroes (Avengers: Infinity War) and big, dead rock stars (Bohemian Rhapsody).
But movie theater attendance is still on the decline, hitting a 25-year low in 2017. In 2002, people went to theaters on average about five times a year. These days, it’s closer to three or four, according to White Hutchinson, a Kanas City-based consulting firm. Studies have pointed to sluggish summer blockbuster seasons and at-home entertainment.
The multiplex might be slowly losing out to the living room, but the theater tradition is far from dead. The Sacramento region has its share of long-running, independent film festivals opening throughout the summer, boasting big classics, new indies and scrappy shorts.
The 18th Sacramento French Film Festival (June 21-30)
French comedies, documentaries, classic dramas and psychological thrillers make this two-weekend fest, jam-packed with 18 premieres and 20 short films. In Invisibles (“Les Invisibles”), social workers at a shuttering women’s day shelter struggle to get their women out of homelessness permanently. The documentary A Place in the Sun (“J’Veux Du Soleil”) follows the Yellow Vest social uprising against fuel taxes in France. And in Mother’s Instinct (“Duelles”), channel Alfred Hitchcock as the bond between two best friends are marred by a sudden tragedy. There’s a surprise film screening on the closing night.
$12-$13 general audience, $17-$18 opening and closing night, $50 one-weekend pass, $90 two-weekend pass; The Crest Theatre,1013 K St.; sacramentofrenchfilmfestival.org.
Summer Solstice Film Festival (June 28)
The two-night, free event is intended to uplift narratives of indigenous communities across the globe through five documentaries. Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess tells the story of a Caribbean female war leader who successfully fought the British invasion in Jamaica in the early 1700s (she was named a national hero in 1975). In Ausangate, discover the relationship that the Peruvian Quechua people have with the Andes mountains and its population of llamas. The festival is hosted by the Decolonization Project, a local, anti-colonial arts and culture cooperative inspired by the Standing Rock movement.
Admission is free; Sol Collective, 2574 21st St.; facebook.com/thedecolonizationproject.
The 6th Annual Love Horror Short Film Festival (July 20)
While horror fans wait for the Sacramento Horror Film Festival’s 13th year, which kicks off Sept. 21, the fest’s sister show, the Love Horror Short Film Festival, returns to the Colonial Theatre. Between bite-sized bits of gore and bathroom mirror scares, catch performances by the Scream Queens Gorelesque Troupe and others. The headliner is a showing of Tommy Wiseau’s cult classic The Room, with meet-and-greets with Greg Sestero, one of the film’s stars.
$25 general audience, $70 VIP. The Colonial Theatre, 3522 Stockton Blvd.; sachorrorfilmfest.com.
LunaFest (July 20)
Since 2000, this annual traveling fest has celebrated short films produced, written and directed by women from across the country. This year’s stories run the gamut, documenting the path to American citizenship (My Immigrant Story), discovering the art of turntables (Flip the Record), experiencing racism and sexism on the Fourth of July (War Paint) and opening up to parents about sexuality before a high school dance (Are We Good Parents?).
$35; The Guild Theatre, 2828 35th St.; lunafest.org.
The 15th Sacramento Japanese Film Festival (July 19-21)
Festival director Barbara Kado is committed to telling the modern Japanese story in Sacramento, and great films have been her medium. In The Third Murder (“Sandome no Satsujin”), legendary director Hirokazu Kore’eda focuses on the country’s criminal court system, after a man with a bad record confesses to a gruesome murder. The comedy What A Wonderful Family! 2 (“Kazoku Wa Tsurai YO2”) follows a family unwilling to let an elder know he should stop driving. In the 1963 classic High and Low (“Tengoku to Jigoku”), a shoe company executive contemplates giving up his fortune to save a ransomed child who isn’t his own.
$10 single show, $40 festival pass; The Crest Theatre, 1013 K St.; sacjapanesefilmfestival.net.
The 19th International Nevada City Film Festival (Aug. 23-30)
The festival will screen more than 100 full-length and short movies in two theaters this year. See Sam Elliott play a World War II veteran on the hunt for a fabled backwoods creature in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, or hit the road with Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper in a 50th anniversary screening of Easy Rider, with surprise guests. When it’s time to rest your eyes, participate in filmmaker panels, go on a group hike, take a yoga class or eat barbecue.
$11 single show, $59-$89 festival pass; Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad St. / The Onyx Theatre, 107 Argall Way in Nevada City; nevadacityfilmfestival.com.