SFIFF Spotlights #4: All About the Feathers/The Double/Club Sandwich/School of Babel/Select Shorts

by Chad Liffmann on April 29, 2014

Spinning Platters coverage of the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) continues with four more film spotlights.  Program notes and tickets available at: http://www.sffs.org/festival-home/attend/film-guide

All About the Feathers (“Por Las Plumas”)
(Costa Rica, 85 min, 2013)



All About the Feathers is a charming tale of an unlikely friendship between a lonely security guard, Chalo, and a fighting rooster he finally purchases, aptly named “Rocky.”  The quasi-absurdist narrative, delivered calmly and steadily by first time director Neto Villalobos, is steeped in colorful characters and environments.  The film wins our hearts through Charo’s unflinching devotion to his new fowl friend and how such goodnatured care can spark close bonds with others.  Odd and hilarious, yet truly touching at its core, All About the Feathers gives us a quirky example of how it’s in our nature to fight being alone.


  • Tuesday, April 29th, 6:15 pm, Kabuki

Tickets: http://www.sffs.org/festival-home/attend/film-guide/all-about-the-feathers

The Double
(UK, 93 min, 2013)

Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in THE DOUBLE

Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in THE DOUBLE

Borrowing an aesthetic that’s part steampunk, part 80’s industrial cheesy, The Double is a twisted dark comedy that broods and bothers its path to telling a story loosely based on a work by Dostoyevsky.  Paranoid and nearly non-existent is Simon James, played by a mousy Jesse Eisenberg.  A tiny cog in the complex inner workings of a dim, dystopian workplace, Simon James’ existence (or lack of) is nevertheless threatened by a confident and outspoken doppelgänger, James Simon (also Eisenberg).  Reflecting many shades of Brazil, the plot spirals into metaphorical absurdity as it captures the all-too-human fear of being insignificant and un-loved.


  • Tuesday, April 29th, 9:15 pm, Kabuki

Tickets: http://www.sffs.org/festival-home/attend/film-guide/the-double

Club Sandwich
(Mexico, 82 min, 2013)

Lucio Giménez Cacho and María Renée Prudencio in CLUB SANDWICH

Lucio Giménez Cacho and María Renée Prudencio in CLUB SANDWICH

Director Fernando Eimbcke has a knack for delivering emotions and plot advancements through silence and body language.  This is definitely the case in Club Sandwich, a cute story about a boy and his mother vacationing together in the off-season in a quaint hotel when a teenage girl shows up and sparks the boy’s sexual curiosities.  It’s a very confined coming-of-age story, and all the better for it because the tight setting allows us to feel the claustrophobia the characters feel as they navigate each other’s presence in a variety of ways.


  • Sunday, May 4th, 1:30 pm, Kabuki

Tickets: http://www.sffs.org/festival-home/attend/film-guide/club-sandwich

School of Babel
(France, 89 min, 2013)

An immigrant youth in SCHOOL OF BABEL

An immigrant youth in SCHOOL OF BABEL

School of Babel is a moving documentary that follows a “reception class” of immigrant youth in Paris over the course of a year.  New to France, where each student is seeking or has been forced into refuge from an assortment of hardships back home, the group must adjust and bond with each other in order to assimilate into their new world.  Shot and edited without exposition or narration, paralleling the experience of being dropped suddenly into a new country without guidance, we learn about each student’s story and developmental progress through captured interactions in class, in parent/guardian meetings with their teacher, and the students’ emotional excitements and misgivings.


Shorts:  Deserted / Little Vulvah and Her Clitoral Awareness / Oh Willy…
(Israel, 2013, 25 min)(Denmark, 2013, 5 min)(Belgium, 2012, 17 min)

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 7.59.39 AM

Deserted (“Nivut Golem”), part of the Shorts 2 program, is an Israeli short film that follows two female Israeli soldiers during their last drill in officer school.  When one of the soldiers makes a crucial error, it sparks a chain of events requiring numerous ethical and practical decisions to be made at a moment’s notice.  Director Yoav Hornung expertly contrasts the panic and personal obstacles of the characters against a serene yet somewhat foreboding backdrop of the Israeli desert.  In the tense finale, we’re privy to the type of moral human predicament that we can rarely foresee but know it can lurk around every corner.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 12.40.59 AM

The Shorts 3: Animation program features a wide assortment of thematic materials and mediums.  Hand painted and featuring a beautifully orchestrated score, Little Vulvah and Her Clitoral Awareness is a standout film that imagines a young female’s sexual exploration with herself.  Another remarkable animated short is Oh Willy…, the story of a man that reluctantly returns to his nature-centric familial roots and finds himself stumbling onto nature’s path, himself.  Oh Willy… features phenomenal stop-motion cotton based characters and a clever, comedic, and darkly metaphorical script.


  • Shorts 2 — Tuesday, April 29th, 9:30 pm, Kabuki
  • Shorts 3: Animation — Monday, May 5th, 9:00 pm, Kabuki

Tickets: http://www.sffs.org/festival-home/attend/film-guide/shorts-2  &  http://www.sffs.org/festival-home/attend/film-guide/shorts-3-animation



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