Film can deliver audiences to places they might not have known existed, to find stories they might not have otherwise imagined. A whirlwind of such films is arriving in the next two weeks, many with their filmmakers coming to talk with audiences. Here is a roundup.
Los Años de Fierro / The Years of Fierro
This 2014 documentary is about Cesar Fierro, the oldest Mexican prisoner on death row in the U.S. He was arrested in 1979 for the kidnapping, robbery and murder of a taxi driver, and later convicted despite evidence that proves he did not commit the crime, and despite a confession that was given under duress. In the intervening decades, he’s lived through a number of execution dates, his daughter has grown up without him, and his brother carries on devastated. It comes courtesy of the Watsonville Film Festival, which brings director Santiago Esteinou for a post-film discussion.
6-8pm Thursday, Sept. 5, at Watsonville Public Library, 275 Main St., #100, Watsonville. Free. watsonvillefilmfest.org.
8th Annual Monarch Film Festival
Founded by Cristiana DiPietro and Matthew Kalamane, this is a homegrown festival that hasn’t strayed from its local roots. In its two days, it will show films in thematic blocks built around local films, short documentaries, narrative shorts and features, spanning pieces like a documentary about a North Carolina man who climbs frozen waterfalls, a showcase of short films by Pacific Grove’s Bob Pacelli, and projects that came from kids enrolled in a young actors’ theater camp in Santa Cruz. The blocks of films are followed by Q&As with filmmakers.
6:30-9pm Friday and 12pm-8pm Saturday, Sept. 6-7, at Lighthouse Cinemas, 525 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. $25/all-access pass; $15/Fri or Sat pass; $10/block or individual film. monarchfilmfestival.com.
Chasing the Thunder
Environmental activist Paul Watson left Greenpeace to start the more confrontational Sea Shepherd organization, famous for its fleet of ships that chase, disrupt and attack illegal whaling vessels (Animal Planet/Discovery Channel showcased them in two TV series). In 2017, Mark Benjamin and Mark Levin released a feature documentary about one high-seas adventure in which the marine activists of two Sea Shepherd ships chase and skirmish with one of the most notorious poaching vessels, The Thunder, across 10,000 miles of ocean. “There’s a lot of crime out there because nobody is looking,” one official says on camera. “Now we are looking.” The Center for the Blue Economy screens the film and brings the filmmakers for a discussion afterward.
6-8:30pm Tue, Sept. 10, at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Irvine Auditorium, 499 Pierce St., Monterey. Free. middlebury.edu.
Get Real with Fathom Events
Fathom Events uses digital technology to simulcast films and live events to hundreds of participating movie theaters across the Americas. They’ve found niches in classic films, revivals, animation, sporting events, music concerts, live performances, and faith-based movies, often with live talks or special bonus footage. They are expanding with a week of socially aware films. The lineup includes Margaret Atwood’s live reading and book launch of her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale (7pm Tue, Sept. 10), a documentary called You Are Here that revisits the role a small Newfoundland town called Gander played on 9/11 (7pm Wed, Sept. 11), the 35th anniversary of the epic Central American immigration story, El Norte (2pm Sun, Sept. 15), and a documentary called The Game Changers that explores myths about meat-based diets among top athletes (7:30pm Mon, Sept. 16).
Various times and days Sept. 10-16, at Century Cinemas, 1700 Del Monte Center, Monterey; and Century 14 Northridge Mall, 350 Northridge Shopping Center, Salinas. $10.50-$12.50. fathomevents.com.
Oscillation Transia Film Festival
The website says this traveling film festival revolves around solar power, will visit “beautiful outdoor locations across the country,” purports to bring together rural and urban communities, will be carbon neutral, has a Kickstarter, and is coming to Henry Miller Library. As to which films are screening, that info is obscured, hinted at by the names of the filmmakers and shots of movie stills. But maybe they mean to preserve some element of surprise? They do recommend you bring a notebook, “for inspirational thoughts that may arise during the film screening.”
6:30pm solar power workshop; 8pm films begin, Friday, Sept. 13, at Henry Miller Memorial Library, 48603 Highway 1, Big Sur. Free. oscillationtransiafilmfestival.com.
Smart Shorts Celebration of Film
The Carl Cherry Center has invited filmmakers 12 and older from Monterey County and around the world to submit original short films one to five minutes in length, created on smartphones and tablets, which is a medium and format that hones in on young people who engage via videos on Tik Tok, YouTube, Facebook Live and Snapchat. There are 13 films that will be screened for this inaugural festival, and folks have found it intriguing – the little theater space has sold out already. Stay tuned to the website to see if more dates will be added.
12-3pm Saturday, Sept. 14, at Carl Cherry Center, Fourth and Guadalupe, Carmel. Sold out. 624-7491, carlcherrycenter.org