Not everyone gets to go to film school, but when you live in the SF Bay Area there’s no lack of immersion and education when it comes to local and international films, from both the past and present. All this month, there are back to back screenings of films that not everyone everywhere is lucky enough to see. From the all-inclusive San Francisco International Film Festival to a whole week of animation in the East Bay, plus a full day of Michelangelo Antonioni classics, and a Czech animator’s mixed media film about an adventurous baron.

If you check out all the films happening this month, you could start out the month as a film newbie and by the end certify yourself as a film authority—no need to enroll or pay tuition for a film school education, the price of each movie ticket will suffice.

61st San Francisco International Film Festival
April 4-17
Various times and venues

It’s hard to abbreviate the list of films, features, tributes, and special events, and select what will be the best to see. Part of the fun of this yearly festival is just being there amongst the excitement, the filmmakers, and the quest for last-minute movie tickets.

There’s something for everyone. There’s the Pick of the Litter about five puppies raised to guide the blind. An intimate film, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind that includes never-before-heard audio tapes. Two must-see portraits of women musicians are Bad Reputation, about Joan Jett, often called the Godmother of Punk; and Matangi / Maya / M.I.A, about the Sri Lankan-born pop star M.I.A. Also Charlize Theron will be there in-person for a conversation following the screening of her film, Tully. In Tully, the naturally glamorous Charlize plays a disheveled mom dealing with baby burnout. Find the full schedule here.


Animation Week (“Rated G to OMG”)
April 6-12
The New Parkway Theater, Oakland

New Parkway has put together their first-ever Animation Week. The films range from family-friendly to fantasy-X, with each night offering a stacked list of films. The first night is a great example: at 6pm, there’s Loving Vincent, a retelling of Vincent van Gogh’s life and death. At 8:10pm, Coco hits the screens for the kids. This is Pixar’s critically acclaimed and kid-loved story that takes place around the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead. Then, be sure the kids are sent home because at 10:30pm is Fritz the Cat, the 1972 film that was the first animated movie rated X, adults-only.


Hale – Film Screening and Director’s Q&A
April 18, 6:00PM
California Historical Society, San Francisco

This film is a celebration of Hale Zukas, the grandfather of the disability movement. Hale, now 73, has had cerebral palsy since birth. Hale is a University of California at Berkeley graduate. His work in advocating for the rights of the disabled continues. In 2012, he received a plaque in his honor on view at the Ashby rail station in Berkeley, the city considered to be the birthplace of the disability movement.

Although you might find this film screened in other locations, you won’t always see the film’s director, Brad Bailey, in attendance. Hale is Brad Bailey’s documentary thesis from the University of California, Berkeley School of Journalism program. With this film, he became one of the winners of the 44th Student Academy Awards in 2017. Watch the trailer here.


The Fabulous Baron Münchausen
April 26, 7:00pm
UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Karel Zeman is a master Czech animator whose cartoon and stop-motion animation, puppetry, matte paintings, and live action, preceded other well-known animator/directors such as Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton. The film is based on the novel, “The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen” by Rudolf Erich Raspe and the German translations of Gottfried August Bürger. James Mockoski, who oversaw the restoration of the film, will also be at the screening.


Summer In The Forest
April 27-May 3
Rialto Elmwood, Berkeley
Landmark Opera Plaza, San Francisco

Summer in the Forest takes place in L’Arche, a commune set near a beautiful Parisian forest. It’s home to Jean Vanier, a philosopher, and the group of “forgotten others” he had released from violent asylums in the 1960s. Now in his 80s, and still at L’Arche, Jean has a lot to share about the friendships he has made there. Jean’s story is unique and one to embrace. He made a home for people that society would have been fine to leave hidden away.


Homage to Michelangelo Antonioni
April 28
Full day
Castro Theatre, San Francisco

Michelangelo Antonioni is an Italian-born, neo-realist director. Back in 2007, he passed away at 94 years old, leaving behind many award-winning films that still hold their weight today. Monica Vitti was cast in many of his earlier films, and Jack Nicholson in his 1975 film, The Passenger. At this homage at the Castro, you can spend the day watching that progression with six of his films screening throughout the day.