The revolution will not be televised, but it may, at times, be digitized, sorted out through Final Cut Pro, and projected onto the large screen at a theater near you. The latest in nonfiction film activism — from an investigation into Black voter disenfranchisement that follows a Cynthia McKinney campaign for Congress that cannot/will not die (“American Blackout”) to the story of how a drug trafficker-turned-community organizer (and AfroReggae icon) turned a Rio war zone around (“Favela Rising”) — screen at the SF International Film Festival this year. What follows are 10 of the Festival’s most agitating (and we mean that in the best way) films. (Please join two of the makers of these films, Ian Inaba and Jeff Zimbalist, as well as activists and film critics, Saturday, April 29, at 2 p.m., for a free SF360-hosted conversation, “The Revolution, now playing” at House 2 of the Kabuki Theatre).
1. “American Blackout” Why were a large percentage of the voters in a Democratic primary in Georgia actually Republicans? Ian Inaba — a founder of Guerrilla News Network — plumbs the depths (and they sink pretty low) of Republican efforts to disenfranchise Black voters in America. (Fri/28, 1 p.m., Kabuki; Mon/1, 4:15 p.m., with Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, live!)
2. “The Dignity of the Nobodies” Director Fernando Solanas, one of the founders of the “Third Cinema” movement, survived a political assassin’s attempt on his life, at one point became member of Argentina’s parliament, and continues to make moving films about Argentina in crisis. (Sat/29, 1 p.m., PFA; Mon/1, 7 pm., Aquarius)
3. “Favela Rising” Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary were looking for an example of community activism that worked, and searched for it in the most violent neighborhoods of the world — the favelas of Rio. What they find is a shocker. (Sat/29, 8 p.m., Baycat; Mon/1, 6:30 p.m., Kabuki)
4. “Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela” Thomas Allen Harris takes a poetic eye to the activist life and personal struggles of his stepfather, a admirer of Nelson Mandela, who, along with 11 others, exiled themselves to build the freedom movement of South Africa. (Festival screenings concluded; demand that it get distribution!)
5. “October 17, 1961” The story behind the story of international hit Cache, the 1961 massacre of Algerian protestors in Paris, gets full docudrama treatment in Alain Tasma’s movie. (Fri/28, 3:30 p.m., Kabuki)
6. “Who Killed the Electric Car?” If you didn’t quite realize the electric car was murdered, this film on corporate greed is a must-see. Find out why hydrogen vehicles really are a lot of hot air. (SFIFF screenings concluded; opens locally in July)
7. “Runners High” Oakland at-risk teens cross a new kind of finish line in an SFIFF world-premiering film; it won its own deserved standing ovation at its first screening here. (Sat/29, 3:30 p.m., Kabuki; Tues/2, 8:30 p.m., El Rio)
8. “Workingman’s Death” John Zorn composes the aural backdrop to this visual travelogue of the world’s many varieties of outrageously grueling heavy labor. (Thurs/4, 5:30 p.m., Kabuki)
9. “Encounter Point” Ronit Avni and Julia Bacha’s documentary looks at how participants in The Bereaved Families Forum, a group of 250 Palestinians and 250 Israelis who’ve lost loved ones, overcome their differences. (Mon/1, 6:45 p.m., Kabuki; Wed/3, 3:15 p.m., Kabuki)
10. “Al Franken: God Spoke” The former SNL writer and Air America celeb en route to political stardom gets cinema verite treatment at the hands of Chris Hegedus and Nick Doob. (Tues/25, 3:30 p.m., Kabuki)
With riveting characters, cascading revelations and momentous breakthroughs, Epstein and Friedman’s work paved the way for contemporary documentary practice.
Accompanied by a program of solar system shorts, Travis Wilkerson’s 2003 look at ruthless union-busting and the rise and fall of Butte, Montana, offers eerie resonance.
Saraf and Light's work is marked by an unwavering appreciation for underdogs and outsiders.
A film on Cherokee chief Wilma Mankiller bucks biopic formula and concentrates on a pivotal moment in the leader's life.
Goldman Prize-winning environmentalists' work highlighted in short-form pieces by Parrinello, Antonelli and Dusenbery.
Mill Valley amps up the star wattage in its annual mix of local, international titles.
An East Bay filmmaker takes another look at U.S. financial woes with 'Heist,' which world premieres at the Mill Valley Film Festival.
John Turturro shares his passion for the Neapolitan songbook.