Hearts Beat Loud. Photo courtesy SIFF

Hearts Beat Loud. Photo courtesy SIFF

SIFF 2018 Picks: Opening Weekend

From Chinese internet stars to a classic Japanese masterpiece, our choices for the must-see films screening at the fest from May 17–20.

Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day

No filmmaker burned brighter in the 1970s than Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the West German wunderkind who cranked out a lifetime’s worth of movies in the decade. He was so prolific he created this 1972 TV miniseries—all about the joys and sorrows of a group of factory workers—the same year he made four other feature films. Eight Hours has been virtually unseen in the U.S., but here’s all 472 minutes of it, which you can see either as separate Wednesday-night sections or in one long go (with breaks) on May 19. The latter might not be the best way to absorb it, but speaking as someone who got through eight hours of Our Hitler in a single SIFF marathon in 1980, you’ll probably never forget it. – RH

May 19 at 10 a.m. (marathon), Film Center | May 23, May 30, June 6 (sequential), Film Center

The People’s Republic of Desire

Dive headfirst into China’s live-streaming celebrity culture. The SXSW Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary details the modern oddity of young Internet stars that get showered with adulation and hate while living in relative isolation in front of their computer screens. It’s a world where fans pay to have virtual connections with people in desperate need for more irl connections. – SS

May 19 at 6 p.m, Uptown | May 20 at 8:30 p.m., Lincoln Square

Hearts Beat Loud

The SIFF lineup is loaded with a ton of (//clears throat) SERIOUS films, so occasionally you need a nice palette cleanser that goes down easy. Hearts Beat Loud offers up a Nick Offerman as a dorky, lovable, music-obsessed dad who loves trying to connect with his teenage daughter (Kiersey Clemons) through jam sessions. As she’s prepping to go away to college, he posts a song of their online and it unexpectedly takes off, leading the pair to confront the issue of distance (and future distance) in their relationship. Will Hearts Beat Loud be the best film of SIFF 2018? Surely not. Unlike some films in the fest, will you leave the theater without dwelling on how the world is a bleak and cruel place? Probably! – SS

May 19 at 6:30 p.m., Uptown | May 20 at 1, Majestic Bay

The Greenaway Alphabet

It’s hard to believe this documentary portrait of Peter Greenaway (a past SIFF honoree) is only 68 minutes long; the British filmmaker is known for his ability to hold forth at length on cinematic topics. But maybe the director of The Greenaway Alphabet, the artist Saskia Bodekke, knows how corral her subject—she’s married to him. Bodekke organizes this film according to alphabetical subjects from Greenaway’s life. – RH

May 19 at 8, Uptown | May 20 at 12:30 p.m., Uptown | June 1 at 8:30 p.m., Film Center

Sansho the Bailiff

From SIFF’s archival section, a restored print of Kenji Mizoguchi’s 1954 masterpiece, a transcendent drama about hardship and redemption. If you walk out of the theater convinced you’ve just seen one of the greatest movies ever made, I won’t argue with you. – RH

May 20 at 2 p.m., Uptown

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