The six premieres are led by Henry Fool (screening Saturday at 9:30 p.m.), Hal Hartley's grittiest ode yet to books, cigarettes, and the terrorism of families. New Zealander John Duigan rebounds from recent duds with Lawn Dogs (Friday at 9:30 p.m.), a marvelously written and often unsettling story of budding adolescent rebellion. (The respective stars of those films, Parker Posey and Sam Rockwell, will be on hand to receive minted-for-the-occasion citations called "Independent Maverick Honors.") An unexpectedly sweet Dennis Hopper anchors Stuart Gordon's outer-space romp, Space Truckers (Friday, midnight), which nevertheless regrettably lacks the over-the-top campiness or juicy pulp pleasure essential for cult favedom.
As for the accompanying older works in the series, if you've only seen Steven Soderbergh's sex, lies, & videotape, Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy, or Tim Hunter's River's Edge on video, now's the time to catch them on the big screen. (The exception is the aurally amusing but visually illiterate Clerks.) It's fascinating to compare the career paths of the filmmakers on display; Barry Levinson (Diner) became a Hollywood insider, while Soderbergh, Van Sant, Susan Seidelman (represented here by Desperately Seeking Susan), and Spike Lee (She's Gotta Have It) are still trying to reconcile their artistic ambitions with commercial imperatives. Only John Sayles (The Brother From Another Planet) has consistently worked that trick.
As a bonus, most of the features are accompanied by a short work by a local filmmaker.
-- Michael Fox
The Classically Independent Film Festival runs June 5 through 9; for a complete schedule, see the Castro entry in Reps Etc., Page 84.