House of Legends


San Francisco's history of attracting the world's most restless dreamers, misfits and innovators is evident by its eclectic mix of Victorian architecture. Among the city's most iconic yet elusive examples is Alamo Square's Westerfeld House aka the "Russian Embassy" as referenced in Tom Wolfe's "The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test", 1968. Located "Up at Fulton and Scott" across from the famed "Painted Ladies" and steeped in decades of accumulating urban legends involving everything from ambitious architects, White Russians and a famous magician, to 60s counter-culture icons, musicians, occult-laden filmmakers and a pet lion, there's little doubt this Victorian landmark is an embodiment of the city's dynamic character. But how did this single family, 28 room mansion, built in 1889, for less than ten thousand dollars, come to symbolize and even influence the city's boldest personalities? The Westerfeld was born from an American dream that would outlive its creators by 12 generations, surviving earthquakes, fires, decay and urban redevelopment to become symbol of the city's vibrant spirit. 

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Matt Alavi (writer/director) is a California native director, animator and first generation Iranian-American who lingers at the intersections of fact, fiction and form. Drawn in early by the affect of moving pictures, character stories, visual design and American pop culture, Alavi uses mise en scene, light, illustration, sculpture, animation, architecture and sound to illuminate the interior spaces of characters, objects and places often caught between the conflicting forces of nostalgia and progress. In 2016, Matt became the recipient of the San Francisco Film Society FilmHouse Residency award for his feature length multi-platform documentary, Westerfeld House of Legends, exploring the architecture, history and mythology of SF's most iconic Victorian landmark. Previous music video, animation and documentary work has been featured nationally and internationally for brands and networks including Sony, MTV, BBC, Esquire, Pitchfork, Noisey, DangerousMinds, LaughingSquid, StereoGum and AmoebaMusicInc.

Sam Vinal (producer/cinematographer) is a documentary and narrative filmmaker and founder of Mutual Aid Media LLC, an emerging Los Angeles based boutique production house for documentary and narrative film projects. Sam graduated from the University of San Francisco in 2010 and began his career in documentary filmmaking that year when a director hired him to shoot a film on HIV/AIDS in Zambia. Since then, Sam has been traveling and telling stories through a sociopolitical lens. Sam has an equal love for the narrative form and has worked as a DP and camera operator on narrative films, music videos and experimental projects. Sam was the producer and camera operator on the narrative short Fearless, which had its world premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh in Ireland in July 2014 and which has since shown at many other festivals.

Candice Nobles (producer) spent 15 years helping startups acquire and retain customers prior to starting her own marketing consulting practice. She has been involved in the various stages of startups, from conception to acquisition. Candice's work has included helping teams define their mission, vision, brand attributes, messaging and core values as well as creating and executing the social media, online marketing, email, and other customer acquisition initiatives. She helps organizations reach their goals. Candice is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in English and minor in Film Thematic Studies. She is avid observer that loves motion pictures and live performances.

Film Details
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Language(s): English
  • Year: 2017
  • Running time: 100
  • Director(s): Matt Alavi
  • Producer(s): Sam Vinal, Ijah Garfield
  • Writer(s): Matt Alavi
  • Cinematographer(s): Sam Vinal
  • Editor(s): Natalie Q. Rold
  • Music: John Handy, Bobby Beausoleil
  • With: Kenneth Anger, Bobby Beausoleil, Peter Albin, John Handy, Art Lewis and Fayette Hauser
  • Website:

FilmHouse Resident project