The beautifully photographed “Point of No Return” tells the dramatic story of the first solar-powered flight across the world. (Courtesy photo)

Entertaining, educational flicks at 17th DocFest

It’s not too late to check out the 2018 DocFest, SF IndieFest’s coolly eclectic showcase for nonfiction cinema.

Running through June 14 at the Roxie, Brava and New People theaters in The City, the 17th edition of DocFest, officially called the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, features more than 80 films from around the Bay Area and the world — some serious and some more entertaining than most Hollywood comedies.

Here’s a brief look at select highlights; film screen at the Roxie unless noted otherwise.


Agave: The Spirit of a Nation: The festival’s closing feature, directed by Nick Kovacic, examines the history of tequila and mezcal along with the popularity of these drinks made from the agave plant. (9:15 p.m. June 10 at New People; 7:15 p.m. June 14 at Roxie)

Rodents of Unusual Size
: The festival’s centerpiece feature looks at the beaver-sized, orange-toothed swamp rats called nutria that have become environmentally hazardous in the Louisiana swamplands; Bay Area filmmakers Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer introduce nutria hunters, nutria cuisine, a pet nutria on its owner’s lap — and more. (5 p.m. June 9)


Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno: Filmmaker Laurie Coyle profiles Moreno — the migrant mother and farmworker who became the first woman in the nation to be hired as a union organizer — and investigates why she suddenly disappeared from the scene. (7:15 p.m. June 8 and 12:30 p.m. June 9)

Atomic City: Part Errol Morris, part 1950s sci-fi and part cinematic poem, David McMurry’s 27-minute film (screening with the longer doc “The Quiet Zone”) transports viewers to Arco, Idaho — the first city ever lit with atomic power. (5 p.m. June 9, 7:15 p.m. June 12)

Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary: Filmmaker Brent Hodge explores the making of the short-lived but highly regarded TV series about what high school is truly like. Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Busy Philipps and Judd Apatow are among those reminiscing. (9:30 p.m. June 8)

Point of No Return: Directors Quinn Kanaly and Noel Dockstader take viewers behind the scenes of a risky and spectacular human achievement: the first solar-powered flight around the world; impressive cinematography includes overhead views of the Egyptian pyramids and the Golden Gate. (7:15 p.m. June 9 and June 13)


Elephant Path — Njaia Njoku: This world-premiere doc spotlights the work of four individuals from different backgrounds who are devoted to stopping the poaching of elephants in the Central African Republic. (12:30 p.m. June 10, 9:30 p.m. June 12)

Instant Dreams: Award-winning Dutch documentarian Willem Baptist explores the history of the Polaroid photo, and the continued love users feel for the analog-era brand of photography, in a visual essay. (9:30 p.m. June 10 and June 14)

Owned: A Tale of Two Americas: This social journey traces housing-related inequality back to the postwar years, when racial bias was institutionalized in the U.S. housing market. (2:45 p.m. June 9 and 9:30 p.m. June 13)

Roller Dreams: This film revisits the 1984 scene in Venice Beach, Calif., where young people of color created roller dancing, a trend that attracted large crowds and influenced white entertainment but fell victim to politics and gentrification. (7:15 p.m. June 8, 9:30 p.m. June 13)

Where: Roxie, 3117 16th St., Brava, 2781 24th St., New People, 746 Post St., S.F.
When: Daily, through June 14
Tickets: $13 to $15

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