Last month, I promised to leak some early news here about the upcoming April 16-20 festival. Long-time festivalgoers know that the full schedule is unveiled at Preview Night in SOU Music Hall, taking place this year on March 24. The next day, we’ll share our catalogue and online schedule.
My programming team and I are where we should be at this stage of the process. We are currently at 886 submissions, and every film has been watched by multiple screeners (except for the Locals and Launch submissions, still under review). We’ve completed the selection of short films: 35 have been sorted into five programs curated by John Stadelman and Aura Johnson with themes tentatively titled Couples, Issues, Civic Engagement, Portraits, and Intersectionalities. In addition, there will be five packages of short films curated by others, including new editions of NASA’s CineSpace, the New York Children’s International Film Festival’s Kid Flicks, and Mark Shapiro’s Animated Worlds, all audience favorites.
The new kid on the shorts block will be a program curated by the legendary avant-garde filmmaker and programmer Craig Baldwin, who runs the Other Cinema microcinema in the Mission District of San Francisco. A “microcinema” is the term for a small room or theater used to show low-budget independent films—often experimental works made by individual artists. One of our hopes for our new theater in the AIFF Film Center at 389 East Main Street is that it will partially serve as a local “microcinema,” exposing such radical works (usually non-narrative and grounded more in visual art and poetry than theater or literature) to local audiences. Since Baldwin’s Other Cinema has been an inspiration to many since he launched it in 1987, we’re happy to honor his venue with one of our “Indie Institution” tributes this year. Joining Baldwin will be the animator and musician Jeremy Rourke, who performs live music with his own films; Rourke made a huge impression when he played AIFF in 2016, and he has composed a tribute to Baldwin’s Other Cinema, which he will perform!