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Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

With the San Francisco International Film Festival entering its final week, one could be forgiven for rushing to the Sundance Kabuki for last-chance screenings of Tyson, (500) Days of Summer or Paul Solet’s terrifying Grace. If rushing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of attractive alternatives awaiting you at the city’s indie theaters.

1. The Garden
Where: Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St., 415-885-3201
When: All Week
Why: Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s Oscar-nominated follow-up to 2002’s OT: Our Town, his documentary about a Compton high school attempting to stage its first play in over 20 years, chronicles a South Central Los Angeles farming community’s struggle to save its land from a millionaire developer. The stage is set for a power struggle rife with moral outrage, and The Garden delivers that in spades, but Kennedy’s second effort is as much a compelling, seamlessly crafted underdog tale as a revealing glimpse behind the curtain of big-city politics. He will be appearing for Q&A sessions following Friday's 5:10, 7:10 and 9:30 screenings.

2. Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Where: Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary Blvd., 415-751-3213
When: All Week

Why: Watching the members of Anvil, a Toronto-based quartet of hair-metal pioneers still looking to recapture the magic of the early ’80s, isn’t as amusing as Spinal Tap, because the humiliations and indignities they endure are depressingly real. But Sacha Gervasi’s powerfully affecting new documentary about the band leaves room for cautious optimism: These guys can play, and they’re going to keep doing it until the world starts listening. Better yet, they'll be appearing live for two post-screening performances on Sunday evening.

3. Enlighten Up!
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: If you think yoga can change the world – or, at the very least, one skeptic’s spiritual outlook on life – Kate Churchill’s new documentary should prove quite illuminating. Tracking journalist Nick Rosen’s induction into the world of a billion-dollar fitness craze that may or may not be a path to nirvana doesn’t get Churchill the results she was expecting, but his journey remains engrossing at every turn.

4. The Matrix
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: May 1-2
Why: Forget the lousy sequels. It’s been 10 years since Neo (thespian extraordinaire Keanu Reeves) first crossed paths with the coldly taciturn Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) in the oft-imitated but rarely equaled Matrix, and the Red Vic is planning a two-night celebration.

5. Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: May 6-7
Why: If you’ve never heard of Scott Walker, there’s a reason. The erstwhile lead singer of the Walker Brothers, a pop trio whose mid-’60s hits inspired a much larger following in Britain than their native United States, Walker shrugged off the life of a burgeoning teen idol to embrace his passion for moody, discordant ballads. His second career as an experimental composer effectively removed him from mainstream consciousness, but earned him an impressive roster of fans, including Brian Eno, Thom Yorke, Jarvis Cocker and David Bowie, who helped produce Stephen Kijak’s riveting documentary.

6. Sugar
Where: Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: Isolation and an early-life epiphany await Sugar (Algenis Perez Soto), a Dominican pitching prospect who comes to question the limited scope of his professional ambition during a minor-league stint in rural Iowa. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (2006’s Half Nelson), Sugar is a moving, unflinchingly honest take on the immigrant experience, infused with an obvious passion for America’s pastime.

7. Sin Nombre
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week

Why: Director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s feature debut, an award-winning hit at this year’s Sundance, follows an unlikely pair of traveling companions – one a delicate young Honduran woman (Paulina Gaytan), the other an erstwhile gang member (Edgar Flores) trying to outrun his brutal past – as they head for the U.S. border, hoping to live the American Dream. What they find is another story altogether, but Fukunaga infuses their journey with moments of breathtaking beauty and haunting, unforgettable violence.