As programmers of an arthouse cinema and two film festivals, “Independence” is always top of mind. Whether projected at the Smith Rafael Film Center or virtually transmitted directly to your living room, we strive to bring the best independent films to our audience. While we reflect on our nation’s independence this holiday weekend, the CFI, MVFF, and DocLands programmers have selected three films that tell stories of personal independence, whether it’s through autonomy over telling one’s own story, financial and professional self-sufficiency, or coming of age.
MVFF AND DOCLANDS PROGRAMMING MANAGER AND MVFF SHORTS PROGRAMMER STERLING HEDGPETH SELECTS
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
Director: Julian Schnabel (France/US, 2007) 112 min.
“The remarkable true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, who was left with the use of only one eye after a catastrophic stroke, manages to be an examination into both our own fragility and our resilient spirit, as painter and artist Julian Schnabel gives us a fully immersive cinematic experience. We witness within Bauby’s mind his immobile subjectivity, his frustration at communicating, and how his own memories of his childhood and his family renew his drive to share his story one arduous letter at a time. It is a film that revels in every detail because those small little nuances can contain an entire universe of feeling and awareness. A truly unique and touching film, with wonderful turns from Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, and the late Max von Sydow, who passed away this past March.” – Sterling Hedgpeth
DOCLANDS DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING JONI COOPER SELECTS
Director: Thomas A. Morgan (US/Lebanon, 2017) 83 min.
Mariam Shaar lives in a refugee camp just south of Beirut. When she and other enterprising women refugees resolve to grow a small catering business, named Soufra, or “spread” in Arabic, obstacles emerge. As a bevy of colorful, mouthwatering food parades by, we find ourselves rooting for Mariam’s success, and her courage reminds us that every refugee has a dream for a better life. (Logline by Lorraine Hess)
“If inspiration or mouth-watering delicacies are what you’re looking for, Soufra may be the story recipe you seek—it is filled with both! It was certainly a recipe I was looking for to help demonstrate what grit, determination, and tenacity look like. Beautifully shot with great sensitivity, Soufra gives Mariam Shaar and her merry band of women a voice that can’t be overlooked as they remind us that, just like you and me, ‘Every refugee has a dream.’” – Joni Cooper
CFI EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT MAUREEN GALLIANI SELECTS
Director: Greta Gerwig (US, 2017) 94 min.
Bumbling through her senior year at Catholic high school and desperate to escape Sacramento, rebellious teen Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) navigates the confusing world of college applications and blossoming relationships. Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut and love letter to Sacramento demonstrates a keen understanding of the high school experience and the complex relationships between a young woman, her family, and her hometown. (Logline by Dominique Oneil)
“It’s no surprise that Lady Bird was a huge hit when it played Closing Night of the 40th Mill Valley Film Festival. This lovely, insightful film is relatable on so many levels. Saoirse Ronan is pitch perfect as Lady Bird, a teenage girl trying to navigate her life and future; the tenuous relationship between her and her mother, exquisitely played by Laurie Metcalfe, manages to engender sympathy for both characters without diminishing the feelings of the other. Greta Gerwig’s deft direction, coupled with an eclectic soundtrack and the absence of a traditional happy ending, makes Lady Bird feel truly authentic.” – Maureen Galliani
CLICK HERE to see Greta Gerwig on the MVFF40 Closing Night red carpet.
CHECK OUT PREVIOUS CFI STAFF SELECTIONS HERE