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Indie Theater Roundup: SF International Shorts Festival and More

With the Toronto Film Festival kicking off today, Inglourious Basterds hanging tough near the top of the box-office charts, and the San Francisco International Festival of Short Films in full swing at the Red Vic, the dog days of late summer seem to be over. The options are plentiful for anyone looking to catch a fine film playing at one of San Francisco's many indie theaters.

1. SF Shorts
Where:
Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Sept. 9-12
Why: The San Francisco International Festival of Short Films celebrates the rebellious nature at the heart of all great filmmaking. Boasting more than 60 films and music videos from 20 countries, SF Shorts offers a range of movies so stylistically diverse viewers will find their heads spinning – in the best possible way, of course. In the words of festival organizers, it's "about grabbing someone by the eyeballs and making them think, feel and react" with six different programs of mixed-genre shorts. Tickets cost $10, with discounts available for seniors and students.

2. World's Greatest Dad
Where:
Bridge Theatre, 3010 Geary Blvd., 415-751-3213
When:
All Week
Why:
Bobcat Goldthwait – yes, the jittery stand-up who formerly starred in the Police Academy series and once set fire to one of Jay Leno's Tonight Show guest chairs – returns with his third big-screen directorial effort, a deliciously dark comedy that ridicules our collective desire to find meaning in tragedy and the sentimentality with which we regard death. Starring longtime pal and sometime collaborator Robin Williams, Goldthwait's follow-up to the overlooked Sleeping Dogs Lie (2006) is characteristically subversive, memorably extreme and, best of all, very funny.

3. The Baader Meinhof Complex
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: An Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, director Uli Edel's ambitious epic traces the rise, fall and fleeting rebirth of Germany's Red Army Faction, an urban guerilla group that railed against German capitalism and enjoyed the height of their notoriety during the 1970s. Their methods, which included robbing banks, assassinating judges and killing cops, are recreated in compellingly chilling fashion here.

4. Moon
Where: Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness Ave., 415-771-0183
When: All Week
Why: After an unexpected two-night engagement at the Red Vic, Moon returns for a most welcome weeklong run at the Opera Plaza. The tale of a solitary lunar employee (Frost/Nixon’s Sam Rockwell) whose mission to solve earth’s energy crisis with Helium 3 extracted from the moon’s surface is compromised by his swiftly deteriorating health, Duncan Jones’ debut represents an increasing rarity: a sci-fi fantasy that’s as serious-minded as it is entertaining.

5. $9.99
Where:
Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: Sept. 15-16
Why: Featuring the voices of Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia, Tatia Rosenthal’s visually arresting slice of stop-motion animation brings the very short stories of Israeli author Etgar Keret to the screen through a series of interwoven narratives examining the subtle charms and maddening banality of life as we know it.

6. It Might Get Loud
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) assembles three legendary guitar gods – Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, U2’s The Edge and Jack White of the White Stripes – to reflect on the formation of their unique sounds, their creative processes, and to play never-before-released samples of their latest compositions.

7. The Dark Crystal
Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St., 415-346-1124
When: Sept. 11-12
Why: A dramatic departure from sunnier, all-ages-appropriate fare like The Muppets Take Manhattan, Jim Henson’s Tolkien-esque fantasy still stands as his darkest and most ambitious achievement. It turns 27 this year. Those inclined to celebrate this Friday and Saturday at midnight need only make their way to the Clay.