May Film Guide: Screenings Outside the Mainstream Variety

The month of May serves up a mixed, multicultural buffet of movies. There’s a documentary by an anthropologist-filmmaker about a California boy who joins his mother in Mexico. There are two sci-fi/fantasies, one by a prolific underground film director, and the other by an Afrofuturist jazz legend, and many more tasty film nuggets to fill your film appetite.


Mike Kuchar’s Fleshapoids Release + Vazquez’ George Kuchar Bio
May 5, 8:30pm
ATA Gallery, SF

Mike Kuchar’s 1965 Sins of the Fleshapoids will be screened via a DVD edition. The film is both co-written and stars his brother George Kuchar. For those who don’t know about the Kuchar Brothers, even a summary would be too long to list here. George was on the film department faculty of the San Francisco Art Institute from 1971-2011, and Mike was on the same faculty from 2011-2015. Although they are local filmmaker favorites, they are also renowned worldwide. The two began making movies in the 1950s, and their talents moved them quickly into the avant-garde film circles with Andy Warhol and John Waters, just to name a few.

Mike Kuchar will be present to answer questions and to screen his new project, Perplexities. And Gustavo Vazquez will introduce his 16mm bio, George Kuchar: The Comedy of the Underground, filmed in George’s Mission District apartment in 1983.


May 10 – 24
Various venues, San Francisco and Oakland

The Center for Asian American Media’s Festival celebrates “Culture, In Every Sense” with Asian-American film, music, and food. Be sure to check out the full schedule of offerings throughout the month.

ULAM: Main Dish
May 11, 7:45pm
AMC Kabuki 8, SF

ULAM: Main Dish had its world premiere at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival. Since it’s a film not to be missed, if you did, you can watch it this month at the Kabuki. This documentary is to inform everyone about the Filipino Food Movement, and its rise to join the ranks of some of the already elite cuisines. It sheds light on the chefs and the food, but it also serves to celebrate Filipino culture. Warning: this film might make you hungry! There is some great food cinematography, so be sure to eat before or have your reservations set for right after the movie. Perhaps a perfect night to try a Filipino restaurant. There will be plenty of topics from the movie to discuss over dinner.

Bitter Melon
May 12, 6:50PM
AMC Kabuki 8, SF

Bitter Melon, is about a Filipino-American family and how they deal with an abusive family member. The film is written and directed by H. P. Mendoza, best known as the screenwriter, composer and lyricist on Colma: The Musical (2007). However, the dark humor and hard-hitting theme of Bitter Melon is bound to surpass the success of that first triumph.


Hecho en México
May 11 to 13
Roxie Theater, SF

Hecho en México includes documentary films from Mexico that, for the most part, have never been shown in the United States. These films give a glimpse into the lives of real Mexicans, to tell their stories, and the social challenges they face. Here are just two of the films within the series, both include Q&A’s with the filmmakers, but be sure to check the full schedule.

Maize in Times of War
May 12, 4:30pm (English subtitled version)
May 13, 2pm (Spanish subtitled version)
A Q&A via Skype with director Alberto Cortés follows after both screenings!

May 13, 6:45pm
Director Sandra Luz López Barroso IN PERSON for a Q&A after the screening!


Sun Ra Outer Space Birthday Party!!!
May 22
5pm: A Joyful Noise (Sun Ra documentary)
7pm: Space Is The Place (Movie made by Sun Ra)
9pm: A Joyful Noise
The Balboa Theater, SF

Even if you’re not a jazz enthusiast, or you haven’t yet heard of Sun Ra in any other capacity, now’s a good time to discover the experimental music, “cosmic” philosophy, prolific output, and theatrical performances that is Sun Ra. And to say “Happy Birthday!” anyway. Although Sun Ra was born in Alabama in 1914, his music and influence has been transported through time to now. For example, Solange has recently performed Sun Ra inspired performances. Watch these films to know what inspired her.

Last October, Rolling Stone Magazine declared, “Why Is Sun Ra Suddenly Having His Moment?” The Guardian says, “…breakdown of Afrofuturism’s musical lineage might look something like this. The ’50s and ’60s were dominated by the free jazz and avant-garde work of Sun Ra and his Arkestra, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Don Cherry and Alice Coltrane, with some psychedelic input from Jimi Hendrix and Love.”


The House of Tomorrow
May 25
(Details TBA)
Opera Plaza Cinema, SF

What happens when a Nana who is infatuated with Buckminster Fuller and his futurist teachings, declares to her grandson that he must carry the torch? And what happens when that 16-year-old boy meets another 16-year-old punk rocker who introduces him to Sid Vicious? Which way does he go? We’ll let the movie tell you.

Written by Christine Arata

As a latchkey kid, I used to entertain myself by watching movies on TV. I grew up on Hollywood classics. Later, I learned an appreciation for foreign films. Over the years, I have had various film-related jobs, made some shorts, and studied film for a bit in Italy. My degree includes a minor in film. Writing is now a great form of expression.

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