“Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,” an “intimate portrait of Hollywood royalty in all its eccentricity” kicks off the four-day Doc Stories festival. (Courtesy HBO)

SF Film Society’s Doc Stories fest offers provocative nonfiction

These days, the best movies are documentaries, and the San Francisco Film Society is backing up that reality with “Doc Stories,” a four-day festival running at various locales in The City this week.

Some 13 programs — most at the Vogue Theatre — showcase new features and shorts, and many host their respective filmmakers.

Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens are slated to attend the opening night offering, “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,” at 7 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Castro. The movie, which details the complexities of the “wonderfully eccentric mother-daughter relationship” premiered at Cannes to rave reviews. The Hollywood Reporter called it “a tender tribute to two iconic women whose Hollywood history spans from ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ through ‘Star Wars’ and whose intimate connection is no less singular.”

The closing night event, at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Castro, is equally enticing: The unparalleled Werner Herzog is expected to appear at a screening of “Into the Inferno,” in which he explores the science and mythology of volcanoes. His costar in the quest is volcano expert Clive Oppenheimer, whom he met while making his 2007’s “Encounters at the End of the World.”

The three-program lineup on Nov. 4 at the Vogue also is remarkable. At 4 p.m., “A Conversation with Ezra Edelman” features the filmmaker responsible for the amazing TV epic “O.J.: Made in America,” perhaps the most comprehensive handling of O.J. Simpson’s story, which critics called “a “masterwork of scholarship, journalism and cinematic art.”

At 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4, a program of shorts called Op-Docs, from the New York Times editorial department, touches on topics from a glimpse into the life of Alabama’s only local abortion provider, to a beauty parlor in Israel where Arab and Jewish women find common ground, to “the presidential debate in song” featuring the Gregory Brothers and Weird Al Yankovic.

The evening closes with Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed “13TH,” which addresses racism in the U.S. criminal justice system, and offers a history of the way forms of slavery have persisted in the country since the Constitution’s 13th Amendment abolished it.

Tickets for most events range from $15 to $20.

For details about the rest of the festival’s intriguing offerings, visit www.sffs.org.

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