Once upon a time, when documentaries consisted almost exclusively of "educational films," inventors and presidents were usually the only people deemed worthy of the camera's attention. These days, thanks to cheap gear and the fragmentation of the culture, everybody's a potential subject for a nonfiction profile. S.F. DocFest has maintained those egalitarian, D.I.Y. principles throughout its rambunctious 11-year history, augmented with a special affection for art and artists.
The 2012 edition blasts off tonight with Jeffrey Durkin's breathless Working Class, which hopscotches back and forth between the misty San Francisco of tattoo and skateboard artist Mike Giant and the livelier-than-you'd-think San Diego of the equally iconoclastic painter Mike Maxwell. Durkin delivers a frenetic, impressionistic 65 minutes that serve notice that on the Left Coast, regardless of which dick is designated mayor and who's in the White House, the underground is everywhere and the counterculture is mainstream. Thursday's show is a celebration as much as a screening, with a Q&A, art exhibit, and boatloads of ink, paint, beer, and smoke. The truth will set you free.