SFIFF2013: “God Loves Uganda”, “Google and the World Brain” and “Salma” – Capsule Reviews and Trailers

God Loves Uganda

God_Loves_Uganda_01three-stars15And the winner for this year’s non-fiction film most likely to rile up the largely leftist Bay Area filmgoers goes to Roger Ross Williams‘ look at Christian extremists, evangelists and members of IHOP (International House Of Prayer, not my holy house of buttery pancakes) as they set their brainwashing anti-gay rhetoric on the nation of Uganda.

Those of you who caught last year’s Frameline Film Festival screening of Call Me Kuchu will no doubt feel a sense of deja vu while watching this. The primary difference between Kuchu and this film is that the former drove home its point mostly through interviews of those within the Ugandan gay community and its supporters, plus it didn’t have to rely on a heavy score in order to be effective, whereas God Loves Uganda gives the majority of its screen time to the Christian fundamentalists and the juxtapositional music used to demonize their ideologies.

Showtimes for God Loves Uganda: Mon, May 6th – 8:15pm (Kabuki)

Tue, May 7th – 3:30pm (Kabuki)

Thu, May 9th – 8:00pm (Kabuki)

Google and the World Brain

Google_and_the_World_Brain_01three-stars15Not aware of Googles massively ambitious global book scanning project and how its success could shape the world for the better, or more importantly, the worse? Ben Lewis‘ documentary will change that.

Even though this expose on the world’s leading corporation for gathering data left me with plenty of food for thought, not all of it was hearty. The good bits were in the film’s ability to open my eyes to the unlimited potential of power that a colossal tech leader like Google can and does yield. The bad bits of the film were all the elements that distracted me from any of the thought-provoking pondering that should have been taking place. The horribly overbearing synth score, animated talking heads segues, and too many to be coincidental mentions of H.G. Welles are all examples of these bad bits of the film. I’m not suggesting that documentaries shouldn’t be playful or incorporate music and animation, I’m simply saying that the style of these esthetics in this film weren’t that great. At the end of the day though this is still an important subject that deserves to be seen – questionable esthetics and all.

Showtimes for Google and the World Brain: Sat, Apr 27th – 6:45pm (New People)

Sun, May 5th – 6:30pm (Kabuki)


Salma_01two-stars1One would be hard pressed to argue that the story of Salma’s rise to becoming the most famous female poet in the Tamil language is not an extraordinarily remarkable one. If only this latest documentary from experienced director Kim Longinotto were able to more effectively engage the viewer. Simply revisiting Salma’s old village, her family, and showing old photographs did as little for me as the film’s esthetics (visually and audibly). In the end, I left this movie with an unsatisfied hunger for something a little more substantial than its offerings of surface-grazing oppressive female issues and the poetry of Salma.

Showtimes for Salma: Thur, May 2nd – 6:15pm (Kabuki)

Sat, May 4th – 2:00pm (PFA – Berkeley)

Sun, May 5th – 3:45pm (New People)


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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival


  1. Filmbalaya’s Guide to SFIFF56 2013 | Filmbalaya.com - April 30, 2013

    […] Loves Uganda – “And the winner for this year’s non-fiction film most likely to rile up the largely leftist Bay Are…” – […]

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