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SFFILM announces 2018 Launch Program lineup

The San Francisco International Film Festival has announced the films that will make up its 2018 Launch Program. Now in its second year, the Launch program aims to provide a platform ...
March 13, 2018

The San Francisco International Film Festival has announced the films that will make up its 2018 Launch Program.

Now in its second year, the Launch program aims to provide a platform for a select group of films looking for distribution. Those selected to take part in the  program are making their debut in the film industry.

The five films selected to participate in this year’s program are director Matthew Testa’s The Human Element (pictured); Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink’s The Rescue List; Denali Tiller’s Tre Maison Dasan; Alexandra Cuerdo’s Ulam: Main Dish; and Suzannah Herbert’s Wrestle.

“We are delighted to shine the spotlight on our second year of Launch,” said SFFILM executive director Noah Cowan, in a statement. “This is a tightly focused program of world premiere presentations that we feel represent the values of our city and region and that we want to see enter the global film distribution system to help promote those values.”

The San Francisco Film Festival takes place from April 4 to 17.

Below are descriptions of the documentaries courtesy of SFFILM:

The Human Element
(Matthew Testa, U.S.. 80 min)
World Premiere

American photographer James Balog has been tracking human-caused changes to our planet for over 35 years. Disturbed and motivated by what he has seen, The Human Element documents how the earth’s four elements–water, air, fire, and earth–have all been impacted by a fifth element, homo sapiens. With breathtakingly rich and innovative photography, he illustrates issues ranging from rising sea levels to pollution’s impact on asthma cases to focus us on a call for change.

The Rescue List
(Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink, U.S./Ghana, 80 min)
World Premiere

Lake Volta in Ghana is the largest man-made lake in the world; it is also notorious as a locale for forced child labor. Bay Area filmmakers Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink’s beautifully shot documentary charts the courageous efforts of a local safe house to rescue the kids, give them schooling and therapy, and prepare them for reintegration into their families. Though it contains many intimate and moving moments with the children, the star of the film is real life hero Kwame, who initiates several dramatic rescues.

Tre Maison Dasan
(Denali Tiller, U.S., 94 min)
World Premiere

Tre, Maison, and Dasan are three boys who all share something in common–one of their parents is in jail. Following their separate lives through boyhood and weaving their stories together, first-time documentary filmmaker Denali Tiller tenderly observes each youngster’s life, as the kids come to understand more about the world around them. Capturing loving, frustrating, and heart wrenching moments between parent and child, Tre Maison Dasan approaches the issue of mass-incarceration by exposing the effects of the criminal justice system on young men.

Ulam: Main Dish
(Alexandra Cuerdo, U.S., 80 min)
World Premiere

For lovers of food documentaries like Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) and the Chef’s Table series, Ulam: Main Dish will come as a welcome and fresh addition. The film centers on the honest struggle for authenticity and respect for a cuisine often marginalized by the food world. Deploying rousing interviews with owners, restaurateurs, top chefs, as well as mouth-watering dishes placed front and center, filmmaker Alexandra Cuerdo follows the heartaches and triumphs of contemporary chefs that seek a place for their culture at the dinner table, one dish at a time.

Wrestle
(Suzannah Herbert, U.S., 96 min)
World Premiere

Jamario, Jaquon, Jailen, and Teague are teammates on the J.O. Johnson High School wrestling team in Huntsville, Alabama. Led by their passionate coach, they are trying to qualify for the State Championships but the pressures outside of the ring–emotional breakdowns, racial profiling by the police, teenage pregnancy–are mounting for each of the young men. Over the course of the season, director Suzannah Herbert gracefully follow each of them, showing that the sport is what keeps them focused and in control of their lives.

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