Friday, June 14, 2024

Get a ferry to a Bay Area island film festival

Take a charming ferry ride from San Francisco and you can end up at the quaint island of Alameda, home to the Alameda International Film Festival, which runs Feb. 16-19, 2023.

The city of Alameda is very diverse and progressive and has become a cultural oasis for those who want the city life — but with a more hometown feel. With its cute, walking downtown area, filled with new and eclectic restaurants, you will also find the Alameda Theatre and Cineplex. 

The historic, art deco theatre is not only home to live entertainment, the restaurant Cinema Grill and an array of current films, but has become the home to the Alameda International Film Festival, which runs Feb. 16-19, 2023.

The festival is as diverse as the city itself, mixing in great narrative features with short films, big Hollywood stars and some terrific LGBTQ+ content.
The big star of the year is Steve Zahn, an Emmy Award nominee from The White Lotus.

Friday, Feb. 17 at 7pm, Zahn’s An Uncandid Portrait will screen and he will be on hand for a post-screening interview with director Rick Gomez. The movie is very intriguing on its own. It’s a “documentary” with three fabricated stories, following the lives of fictional artists. The tagline says: Just because it’s completely made up, doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth to it. 

Pseudo-documentaries also take center stage with Just Let Me Go, in which a couple allows a doc team to film them for 15 days as they  (and their friends) discuss their relationship which has lasted 18 year. Filmmaker and star will also be in attendance at both screenings: Feb. 17 and 18.

Later Friday evening, horror fans might get their fill with a late night horror program with the narrative feature #Float, where a vlogger and friends fight paranormal forces on the river. This program also includes two short films and all of the filmmakers will be on hand to discuss their work.

A Taiwanese thriller, Hideout, gives you two shots to catch this film about a drug dealing plan that is obviously too good to be true. You can catch it Friday, Feb 17 at 4pm or Saturday, Feb. 18. at 11am.

Opening night’s feature, The Other Fellow, seems to have something for the gay audience as this documentary, making its Bay Area premiere, showcases men from all walks of life named Bond…James Bond. Yes, real men named James Bond!

The well-curated festival also has some short film segments, pairing together creative and innovative collections of films from all walks of life. There are four blocks of these films, scattered throughout the weekend, but mostly on Feb. 18 and 19.

Shorts Block #2 includes gay short  Hotter Up Close, a cute film about an average guy who can’t believe a hottie likes him.

Shorts Block #3 has the gay-oriented We All Die Alone focusing on a standoff between two gangs, that some how end up talking Mexican food and romance.

Fresh Takes short block includes Ataraxia, a lesbian film that has gotten a lot of good reviews from other festivals.
The festival also is very topical with its Feb. 18 screening of Klondike, which is not only the official Academy Award selection of Ukraine, but it’s deals with the war between Russia and Ukraine.

The Alameda International Film Festival has a great program – too many titles to mention. But they aren’t limiting themselves to just movies. February 18 starts off with a morning of MiniGolf & Mimosas. Before you google what the movie is about, know it’s not a movie. It’s actually a morning adventure in which you can golf and enjoy bubbly and snacks with the filmmakers and VIPs.

Saturday also has a free program with filmmaker Bryant Crawford presents his collection of stories from the LGBTQ+ community entitled Tell Me a Memory Project.

Another free non-screening but film-related program on Saturday is Silent Film in the Bay Area. Many of us may not have realized that “Hollywood” began in the Bay Area with several film studios headquartered here and we also were home to the first Charlie Chaplin films.

Great program all-around and definitely worth a trip to the little hamlet of Alameda. Get tickets and information at

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Kevin M. Thomas

Kevin M. Thomas, or @ReelKev, is an arts blogger and entertainment reporter. In addition to his own website, and ReelKev YouTube channel, Kevin used to be the LGBT arts writer for and contributes to as well as a semi-regular on San Francisco's cable TV show, "10 Percent."

Kevin M. Thomas has 157 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin M. Thomas

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