The San Francisco Black Film Festival has never sugarcoated unpleasant truths, nor has it endorsed the illusory and fleeting comfort of self-pity. Its unwavering philosophy, in the face of every challenge to its core constituency, is that clear-eyed self-regard is, ultimately, empowering. By that standard, the selection of veteran producer-director Robert Townsend’s In the Hive to open the 14th festival tonight at 7 was practically a foregone conclusion. The fact-based drama centers on a charter school in rural North Carolina that represents the last chance for at-risk boys tossed from the public-school system. Mrs. Inez (played by Loretta Divine) and her hulking assistant (Michael Clarke Duncan), with Vivica A. Fox and Berkeley native Roger Guenveur Smith in supporting roles, challenge their charges with a stringent blend of high expectations and tough love. The buzz-worthy film’s inspirational credo carries over into the festival's Focus on Fathers Family Day & Juneteenth Celebration, which happens Saturday at the Calvary Hill Community Church, as well as the numerous screenings and workshops that round out the weekend program. Worker or queen, everyone has a role to play at this film festival.
June 15-17, 2012