What would a summer be without themes? Film festivals provide that hit of curation that just goes so well with the otherwise-aimless days. Here, we gather but a few. At press time, programming details hadn't yet been announced for some of our fair city's summertime festival staples, including the SF Black Film Festival (June 12-15, sfbff.org), SF Jewish Film Festival (July 24-Aug. 10, sfjff.org), and others. But in the meantime, these should get your movie planning started.
I Wake Up Dreaming 2014: Dark Treasures from the Warner Archive
You think today's studio product sucks? Of course you do, because it does. Well, imagine a time — say, about midway through the last century — when even the assembly-line toss-offs were packed with flavor. Now return to that time with crack programmer Elliot Lavine's annual Roxie-only showcase of rare and classic noir.
Through June 1
Astonishing Animation: The Films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli
As America's mainstream family-friendly animated fare gets ever more grotesque, Japan's seems ever more essential. Miyazaki and his colleagues make films of great tenderness, organic imagination, reverence of nature — movies actually worth seeing, and not just for reasons of marketing pressure.
May 29-June 1
The San Francisco Silent Film Festival
Here's another time capsule, from when cinema was really young and really wild. Nineteen films in four days? You can do it. That's one film for each year this essential local festival has been in business, by the way.
May 29-June 4
SF Green Film Festival
Water is a theme in this year's environmentally focused, Roxie-based fest, which includes several aqueously inquisitive docs, and, by way of comment on a record California drought year, a special commemorative screening of Chinatown.
Queer Women of Color Film Festival
This being also the opening weekend of 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2, you may consider it a relief to avail yourself of some alternative programming at the Brava Theater's 10th annual Queer Women of Color event. As the programmers put it, "This is one of the few film festivals where the films look like the audience and where the audience looks like you!"
A centerpiece of this year's LGBTQ film-fest flagship is Jennifer Kroot and Bill Weber's To Be Takei, a sure-to-be delightful doc about the Japanese-American actor, marriage-equality advocate, Star Trek legend, Facebook hilarity generator, and super-smooth baritone voice of pure charm, George Takei. Oh my!