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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hometown Glory: A Look Back at the Year in Documentary Film

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 7:55 AM

click to enlarge Let the cameras roll. - SHUTTERSTOCK/WELCOMIA
The Bay Area has served as backdrop to some of the most iconic films in history. (Think Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Mrs. Doubtfire and Vertigo.) But as the year comes to a close, we wanted to note the wonderful documentary films that were produced in the Bay Area and hit theaters in 2014. 

See also: Year in Film: 2014's Finest, Strangest, and Most Nonexistent Movies 

The subject matters explored by these filmmakers range from civil rights issues abroad (Alex & Ali) and at home (Documented), inside looks into the beautiful minds of the young (The Internet's Own Boy) and the old (The Genius of Marian) and a kaleidoscopic history lesson of the modern age phenomenon known as the teenager (Teenage). 

SF Weekly
caught up with these Bay Area filmmakers throughout the year and discussed everything from inspiration to desperation and the fierce dedication needed in order to tell those personal yet universal stories that matter most.

Q&As embedded in the titles below. 

Alex & Ali (directed by Malachi Leopold)
Shakespeare couldn't have done any better than this story of star-crossed lovers separated by decades of political unrest only to be reunited and faced with the challenges of change and the lack thereof. Berkeley-based filmmaker Malachi Leopold searched within his own family tree and uncovered the year's most resonant love story.

Documented (directed by Jose Antonio Vargas)
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas could very well make history as the first undocumented filmmaker to earn an Oscar nomination. The Mountain View-raised poster man for immigration reform has already garnered plenty of headlines for his decision to come out as undocumented and his film unapologetically chronicles that choice as well as his years-in-the-making reunion with his mother in the Philippines. 

The Genius of Marian (directed by Banker White)
San Francisco based-filmmaker Banker White breathes new life into America's fascination with unscripted family dramas and tenderly puts a spotlight on the trials and tribulations faced with a loved one's Alzheimer's diagnosis. It's a credit to White's fine touch as a filmmaker that he can simultaneously provide viewers with an unflinching yet empathetic portrait of his mother dealing with the disease that afflicts millions in the U.S. 

The Internet's Own Boy (directed by Brian Knappenberger)
If ever there was a folk hero of the Silicon Valley it'd be Aaron Swartz — the Stanford-educated, computer programmer wunderkind whose innovations led to the development of RSS feeds and Reddit.  SoCal based-filmmaker Brian Knappenberger fleshes out every bit of the internet activist's humanity in this deeply affective cautionary tale of a modern day pariah.  

Teenage (directed by Matt Wolf) 
Many harsh things have been said about teenagers throughout the years, some true and some unfair, but history shows that this hormone-fueled age group has consistently shown a flair for style and new trends. The same could be said of Teenage, the aesthetically bold documentary from the San Jose-born filmmaker Matt Wolf that cleverly recounts the birth of the term teenager in the early 20th century. 

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF, Jonathan at @jonramos17, and like us on Facebook.
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