Documentaries, shorts in limelight at Roxie, Lunafest

Courtesy PhotoAncient methods: Cory Mann is the subject of “Smokin’ Fish

Filmmaker Luke Griswold-Tergis is packing up his boat.

The director, writer and co-producer of “Smokin’ Fish” — a humorous documentary about one man’s quest to learn how indigenous Alaskans prepare salmon _ is draining his water supply and shutting up his sailboat for the winter.

“It’s kind of like an RV, but on the water,” says Griswold-Tergis, who will appear in person Thursday at the Roxie Theater for the film’s San Francisco premiere. “Here in Alaska, you need a boat to get anywhere, but you can get places nobody else can go.”

Griswold-Tergis spends half the year in the Bay Area and the other half in Haines, a small town at the base of Glacier Bay National Park in the Alaska Panhandle.

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There he met Cory Mann, a colorful entrepreneur who had run glacier and whale-watching tour companies, and even had Native American textile designs reproduced in Southeast Asia — only to ship them back to sell to tourists in Alaska.

“Smokin’ Fish,” an award winner at several film festivals, tells the story of how Mann, a descendant of the Tlingit people, attempts to return to his roots by learning the ancient art of salmon fishing and salmon curing process from Tlingit elders.

“History is important to them, and the elders know so much of it,” Griswold-Tergis says. “Stuff that happened 2,000 to 4,000 years ago is still relevant to their thinking today.”

Another film program on Thursday at Herbst Theatre is the 12th annual Lunafest. The festival, which showcases nine short films made by women, is a benefit for the Breast Cancer Fund, an organization dedicated to eliminating environmental causes of breast cancer.

Feminist author and filmmaker Jean Kilbourne, known for “Killing Us Softly,” a video series investigating female imagery in advertising, hosts.

Of local interest is Stanford University filmmaker Sarah Berkovich’s “Blank Canvas,” about how one woman with uterine cancer copes with the loss of her hair after going through chemotherapy: She decorates her bald head with a beautiful henna design.

“Georgena Terry” is a short profile of the Terry Bicycles founder who created the first bicycle frame contoured for the female body.

“Self-Portrait with Cows Going Home and Other Works” is a behind-the-scenes peek at photographer Sylvia Plachy, lauded for her images published in the New Yorker, Village Voice and New York Times Magazine.

lgallagher@sfexaminer.com

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