SFFILM Announces 'Launch' Initiative at 60th San Francisco International Film Festival

New Boutique Program Introduces a Curated Slate of World Premieres to Screen for Festival Audiences and Select Industry


San Francisco, CA SFFILM has announced a brand-new initiative designed to provide a platform to a select group of exceptional films starting their journey into the distribution world. Launch, which kicks off at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival with five features—narratives and documentaries—from within the official lineup, seeks to introduce a new opportunity for debuting films that will benefit from the special audience makeup of the Bay Area as they find distributors and exhibitors to champion them in the months to come.

"As funders of major films that have benefited from festival launches, we have long felt that a tightly focused, highly curated set of new films would benefit from SFFILM Festival premieres in front of our sophisticated audiences and select buyers from the country's finest distribution companies," said SFFILM Executive Director Noah Cowan. "These films have been carefully selected to both underline our commitment to exceptional cinema voices and serve as an experimental alternative to larger-scale film sales environments."

SFFILM is dedicated to championing exceptional and innovative films and filmmakers. The SFFILM Festival's new Launch initiative is an organic extension of the organization's year-round Artist Development programs, which support filmmakers at all stages of production through significant financial and creative resources. With Launch, SFFILM now brings the same level of care and assistance to a select number of films as they begin their journeys on the festival circuit. The five titles featured in Launch-found among several Festival sections-are making their debuts to the film industry along with the Festival's discerning audiences.  


The Cage Fighter (Jeff Unay, USA, 82 min) – World Premiere
With the emotional force and power of a Bruce Springsteen song, Jeff Unay's cinema vérité portrait of Joe Carman packs an emotional wallop. A family man who has promised not to return to competitive mixed martial arts fighting, the dangerous sport that gives him the most complete sense of purpose he's been able to find, Joe risks everything for one more chance in the ring.

The House of Tomorrow (Peter Livolsi, USA, 100 min) – World Premiere
When a sheltered teen named Sebastian meets an aspiring punk rocker and falls for the boy's older sister, the stage is set for a cheerful and energetic comedy that tackles matters of friendship, young love, and musical dreams with equal aplomb. Ellen Burstyn is once again wondrous as Sebastian's grandmother who is devoted to the life and scientific work of Buckminster Fuller. 

Leaning into the Wind – Andy Goldsworthy (Thomas Riedelsheimer, UK, 92 min) – World Premiere
Thomas Riedelsheimer's landmark Rivers and Tides (Festival 2002) inventively documented artist Andy Goldsworthy as he created his wondrously ephemeral site-specific sculptures, spun from nature. Fifteen years later, Goldsworthy is still appealingly engaged in his philosophical and tactical exploration of the natural world. Leaning Into the Wind is a collaborative sequel-a visual and aural sensation that takes viewers into the hillsides, terrains, and other outdoor spaces where Goldsworthy feels most at home and inspired.

Muhi - Generally Temporary (Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander and Tamir Elterman, Israel/Germany, 87 min) – World Premiere
Muhi, a cherubic Palestinian toddler with a life-threatening immune disorder, was transported to an Israeli hospital as a baby for emergency treatment. He and his devoted grandfather have lived there ever since, stuck in a bizarre no man's land, with their extended family living on the other side of a fiercely guarded checkpoint. Their unique and moving story takes place within the crucible of the current relentless Israeli-Palestinian conflict that impacts everyone in its orbit.

People You May Know (Sherwin Shilati, USA, 91 min) – World Premiere
Jed is a work-from-home photo editor who has never been on social media until he meets a young woman who approaches him with an experiment: allow her to brand him and make him into someone that everyone wants to know. In Sherwin Shilati's timely debut drama, Twitter wars, Instagram hashtags, and viral photos become ways to connect, but Jed's past and his life online eventually have to catch up to one another.
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60th San Francisco International Film Festival
The longest-running film festival in the Americas, the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM Festival) is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country's most beautiful cities. The 60th edition runs April 5-19 at venues across the Bay Area and features nearly 200 films and live events, 14 juried awards with close to $40,000 in cash prizes, and upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests.