By Carina Tamer

Bay Area Filmmakers at SF Int’l Film Festival April 9, 2021 marks the first day for the highly-anticipated San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM), one of the longest-running film festivals in America. Every year, SFFILM transports the most daring, unique films from around the world right to the Bay Area. While SFFILM boasts hundreds of international films (evident in the name of the festival), the spotlight also turns to the immensely talented, local filmmakers from San Francisco.  Argo’s newest playlist showcases some of our favorite cinematic treasures from SFFILM made by these native Californians.  Make sure to check it out – but leave your expectations for sunshine and Hollywood glitz out the door. Each film charters dark territory in a deeply profound and provocative way. Watch today on ARGO.     REAL ARTISTS (Dir. Cameo Wood)  Cameo Wood delivers this foreboding sci-fi about technology’s dehumanization of storytelling. When a starry-eyed filmmaker interviews for a position at an elite film studio, she is exposed to the pervasive way studios manufacture perfectly-packaged movies for mass consumption. In truth, these formulaic movies mutilate the human ethos of storytelling. With a zany plot and a must-see twist ending, Wood creates eerie discomfort in a fantasy that very much correlates with reality. The irony of it all is that the film itself relies on the same medium distorted by the elite film studios – who’s to say the difference if they evoke equal meaning? Cameo Wood is an Emmy-winning filmmaker based in San Francisco, California. Real Artists is her most recent short film and screened at SFFILM.  She is currently working on her first feature. In 2018 she was a co-winner at the AT&T Film Awards for ‘Best Emerging Artist’ awarded by Ava DuVernay.       Watch now on ARGO.     GUT HACK (Dir. Mario Furloni and Kate McLean)  This New York Times Op-Doc chronicles one man’s risky attempt to replace his body’s bacteria after years of digestive issues. Through first-hand narration, this biohacker persuades us to believe in his at-home experiment: Why shouldn’t we take our health into our own hands? Tensions rise when the scientific community warns him against his plans. Having collected skin, feces and blood from a donor, the biohacker makes a staggering decision to move forward. Furloni and McLean raise the stakes without overstepping their boundaries, telling the story as is, flesh exposed and all.  Kate McLean and Mario Furloni are filmmakers based in the San Francisco Bay area who made the documentary “Pot Country.” McLean’s previous Op-Docs include “The Caretaker” and “Marathon.” This film had its premiere at SXSW and screened at the San Francisco International Film Festival.         Watch now on ARGO.     MARTY (Dir. Kate McLean and Mario Furloni)  Part comedy and part drama, this short is a light satire about a heavy topic: how to prepare for the death of a loved one. A son and his step-mother encounter a quirky mortician and make plans for the cremation of their respective father and husband (Marty).  The kick? Marty is not dead yet. The film uses a surreal style of humor through nonsensical dialogue, a wacky set design, and an absurdly anti-climactic ending. These frilly elements work together to create a colorful snapshot of life at its darkest moment.     Marty premiered at the SFFILM festival in 2018. Last year, these co-directors released their first narrative feature, “Freeland” based on their short “Pot Country.”            Watch now on ARGO.       CORRIENTE (Dir. Diana Sánchez Maciel)  Corriente (or Stream) is a vintage-inspired experimental film that reminisces on the experience of looking through old photographs. This short but dense film evokes the feeling of nostalgia through a nonlinear structure, tight aspect ratio, and grainy old film overlays. Director Diana Sánchez Maciel and sound designer Cristina Bracamontes masterfully pair the visuals with sounds that echo a past life – from rotary phones, antique projectors, and chirping birds. The film dismantles the conventional portrayal of nostalgia through dancing images, abstract art, and most of all, through Maciel’s very own personal perspective. Diana Sánchez Maciel is an experimental filmmaker and curator born in Mexico City and raised in California. Her films have participated in prestigious Experimental film festivals such as CROSSROADS and ULTRAcinema. She currently works for Veteran Documentary Corps as a Research Assistant.         Watch now on ARGO.