In its 36th year, the cozy Mill Valley Film Festival in Marin has a lineup at least diverse enough to include a Costa-Gavras tribute, a Return of the Jedi screening for old times' sake, and a multimedia happening by Thomas "She Blinded Me With Science" Dolby. It also makes room for a variety of new works by many Bay Area residents, including several San Franciscans. Below, some notables:
From local writer-producer Laura Goode, Farah Goes Bang is a feminist road-trip comedy about an Iranian-American woman in her twenties trying to a) lose her virginity and b) get John Kerry elected president in 2004. (One out of two ain't bad?)
Finding Hillywood, from directors Leah Warshawski and Christopher Towey, with local writer-producer Christina Ruddy, looks at the burgeoning film industry in post-genocide Rwanda, where a touring rural film festival, complete with huge inflatable movie screen, encourages reconciliation through cinema.
In Berry Minott's documentary The Illness and the Odyssey, renowned scientists from all over the world descend on a remote island in the South Pacific to understand a mysterious place-specific neurological disorder there, which may be a "Rosetta Stone" for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Lou Gehrig's Disease.
John Brown's Body at San Quentin Prison documents director Joe De Francesco's three-year effort to stage Stephen Vincent Benét's Civil War verse drama with an all-inmate cast.
Sweet Blues: A Film About Mike Bloomfield, from veteran local music-doc-maker Bob Sarles, takes a good look at and listen to the Chicago-born guitar hero and '60s blues revivalist.
James Redford and Kirby Walker's Toxic Hot Seat tells you everything you (n)ever wanted to know about flame-retardant chemicals and the (sorry for this) heated debate they continue to inspire.
UPAJ Improvise chronicles the East-meets-West dance crossover between Bayview's Pandit Chitresh Das, a world ambassador for the classical dance of northern India, and young tap star Jason Samuels Smith.
The Mill Valley Film Festival runs Oct. 3-13 at multiple venues. Tickets are $8-$14. mvff.com.