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SF IndieFest: 7 Movies to See at the Festival

Grand Theft Auto IV arrives on the big screen courtesy of The Trashmaster, an experimental film comprised entirely of video-game artwork, playing Sunday and the following Thursday at the Roxie.

San Francisco's IndieFest roars into its second week at the Roxie, while this year's crop of Oscar-nominated shorts will be screening nightly at both the Lumiere Theatre and the Opera Plaza Cinema. As always, here's a list of some of the most intriguing films currently playing at an indie theater near you.

1. Je T'aime, I Love You Terminal
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: Feb. 14
Why: Dani Menkin (39 Pounds of Love) returns with this smartly paced, affable romantic comedy about an aimless young musician whose plan to marry his American girlfriend is temporarily derailed by an unexpected dalliance in Prague. For fans of Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise saga, or for anyone seeking a big-screen alternative to Just Go with It this Valentine's Day, Love is worth a look.

2. The Trashmaster
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: Feb. 13, 17
Why: Does Mathieu Weschler's gripping new machinima – a film constructed entirely from video-game engines – represent an innovative new approach to filmmaking for cash-strapped auteurs? Perhaps. Here, the first-time director marries images borrowed from Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV to create a memorably twisted fantasy about a vigilante tracking a serial killer. Aesthetically, the results are powerfully fluid, but Weschler goes the extra mile, complementing his artistic ingenuity with a compelling narrative.

3. Not Your Average Kids Movie
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: Feb. 13, 15
Why: IndieFest celebrates the corruption of children worldwide with this collection of shorts, highlighted by Laugh and Die, the story of a clown whose inability to laugh erodes his sense of humor; Vento, about a boy growing up in a Brazilian town where the wind no longer blows; and Stranger Danger, Misha Collins' cautionary tale of an innocent-seeming girl who turns the tables on two would-be abductors.

4. Food Stamped
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: Feb. 13, 15
Why: Co-presented by the San Francisco Food Bank, which feeds more than 200,000 hungry locals each year, Shira and Yoav Potash's hourlong documentary recounts the couple's efforts to create a healthy food-stamp diet consisting of organic vegetables, strictly rationed servings of fruit and free samples. At both screenings, donations of nonperishable foods are encouraged, particularly protein-rich items like tuna and peanut butter.

5. Worst in Show
Where:
Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: Feb. 13
Why: SF Stringers documentarians John Beck and Don Lewis head to Petaluma, the annual site of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest. Once there, they chronicle the intensifying rivalry between perennial favorite Rascal, a shockingly unphotogenic pure-bred Chinese Crested, and 2009 winner Pabst, a toothy mixed-breed Boxer, both vying for the pageant's coveted blue ribbon.

6. Nude Nuns with Big Guns
Where:
Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: Feb. 17
Why: What more do you really need to know? If a violent dose of "nunsploitation" is enough to draw you to the Roxie this Thursday, Run! Bitch Run! director Joseph Guzman's grisly tale of a divine sister kidnapped, beaten and enslaved in a biker gang's brothel should satisfy your appetite for boobs and blood, and then some.

7. Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film
Where:
Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: Feb. 13, 17
Why: Avant-guarde enthusiasts are invited to follow director Pip Chodorov's captivating journey into the heart of experimental cinema, from its pre-World War I beginnings to the present. Featuring illuminating interviews with filmmakers and archivists, as well as footage culled from seminal works by offbeat visionaries including Andy Warhol and Stan Brakhage, Radicals takes the form of a traditional documentary, but the experimental films it restores for big-screen consumption remain a testament to the power of the imagination.