Sundance to San Francisco

Film festival showcases many different communities.



The film “Pick of the Litter” follows the five Labrador puppies — Patriot, Poppet, Potomac, Primrose and Phil — as they train and graduate from Guide Dogs for the Blind. Dogs are invited to register for and attend the film showing April 4-17.

Gabriella Vulakh, Senior Reporter

The San Francisco International Film Festival will showcase a wide variety of cinema in its upcoming 61st year, including films featuring hot button issues such as gender identification, women in space, puppies and science fiction.

The festival, founded by local movie theater owner Irving Levin, will feature 183 films and 45 countries ranging from narrative features, new vision features, documentaries, shorts and episodic programs, eight of which are world premiers. The festival also includes live performances by world renowned musicians such as the Kronos Quartet.

“This year we have been able to create a festival that organically feels very real and meaningful to us and the community,” Executive Festival Director Noah Cowan said. “The festival articulates Bay Area values such as a belief in diversity, education around media, a global perspective making a gateway for international cinema, a belief in championing new voices, and cultivating tomorrow’s story tellers.”

The opening night film, “A Kid Like Jake,” directed by trans filmmaker Silas Howard showcases the life of a non-binary child and addresses how their family and friends must contend with their behavior and schooling. Adapted from Daniel Pearle’s Off-Broadway play and starring Jim Parsons, Claire Danes, Octavia Spencer and Priyanka Chopra, the film was among the big hits at Sundance Film Festival this year, according to Cowan.

“It very much excites me to see what filmmakers are doing with different styles of storytelling,” Programmer Amanda Salazar said. “There is something really special about connecting with stories about various topics and from around the world.”

“Pick of the Litter” by Don Hardy and Dana Nachman, which documents the lives of five Labrador retriever puppies from birth to graduation from Guide Dogs for the Blind, is another festival highlight.

“This is a film for dog lovers, or any animal lovers out there, specifically for those interested in how service animals are selected and trained,” Salazar said. “It will be quite fun — all four-legged companions are welcome to be registered and brought along to the screening.”

The film will play on April 7 at Victoria Theater on 16th Street between Mission and Capp streets.

The festival is widely available to audience members across the city with 11 different venues showcasing films, including the Castro Theater, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio.

“The footprint of the festival, the feeling, flavor and breath occupies the city,” Cowan said. “We have a lot of pride in the festival we have assembled and a lot of excitement in sharing it.”

The festival will take place from April 4-17. Tickets and student discounts are available for purchase online at