January is traditionally a time for Hollywood studios to empty their storage lockers, tossing out the trash (like last winter's Bride Wars) and dusting off movies previously unreleased due to scheduling conflicts. No matter. The city's indie theaters remain a premier destination for cinephiles in search of top-flight documentaries (What's the Matter with Kansas?), cheerfully twisted fantasies (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) and Oscar front-runners like The Hurt Locker and A Serious Man.
Even as the Mill Valley Film Festival draws to a close, the eighth San Francisco Documentary Festival is entering its opening weekend. (For tickets, visit the festival's official site.) An opening-night party, featuring complimentary beverages and a live performance by guitarist and four-stringed ukelele master Tippy Canoe, will be held tonight at Four Barrel Coffee on Valencia Street. Highlights of the festival include:
1. Shooting Robert King
Where: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-863-1087
When: Oct. 16, 21
Why: "How many nameless dead bodies have I stepped over?" asks Robert King, the 38-year-old subject of Richard Parry's fascinating new documentary. A featured selection at last year's Toronto Film Festival, the film tracks King, an accomplished photographer whose work has appeared in Time, Newsweek and The New York Times, from his start in Bosnia to his remarkable treks through Chechnya and Iraq. The result is a harrowing portrayal of the harsh realities of war, and of one man's personal and professional growth over a 15-year period.