An Opportunity to take a deeper look at the world is the 7th Annual Doc Stories mini film festival showcase

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Courtesy of SFFILM



It’s easy for people to get all ensconced into their own little world, as if on an island unto themselves. Often, San Francisco has been referred to as a great big “small town.” Or at times perhaps…An island in an enchanted fog?

No doubt San Francisco’s many individual districts and neighborhoods can seem like an island unto themselves, each proclaiming their particular enclave as the best.

Director/producer Megan Mylan. Photo courtesy of Megan Mylan.

Yet, the outside world has a way of reminding us that no one place or person is an island all by itself. This coming November 4 begins the 7th annual Doc Stories Film Series. Cherished local theaters like the Castro Theatre (at 429 Castro Street) and The Vogue Theatre (at 3290 Sacramento Street), will be the venues for this unique documentary film showcase.

The four-day program of over 11 documentary films provides an in-depth glimpse of the world. 

“We’ve been waiting for the day to welcome our SFFILM community back into theaters and it’s thrilling to do that with our beloved Doc Stories series,” said SFFILM Executive Director Anne Lai. “In bringing our Bay Area audiences together for a rich experience of films and conversations, we also aim to create the space for our industry and filmmakers to connect with each other during such a vibrant season of new films.

In that same spirit, said Lai we continue to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our SFFILM Education program with a special online selection of films and filmmaker Q&As for Bay Area students and teachers.”  Since it’s inception, the mini-film festival has been bringing important documentaries to the local public as a way to provide a deeper glimpse upon the world.

One film in particular from this year’s line up that sheds light on how troubled our world can be is ‘Simple as Water,’ by Megan Mylan.  It will be shown at The Vogue on Sacramento Street.

‘Simple as Water’ is about the Syrian refugees who escaped the on-going civil war there. Photo courtesy of SFFILM and Megan Mylan.

‘Simple as Water’ documents how our modern world has become all too familiar with images of refugees fleeing their homes.  Desensitized to the onslaught of harrowing images and heartbreaking stories, the decade-long civil war in Syria has been pushed into the background of world events in the newsfeed of our hightech devices. The bloody war rages destroying over 3 million inhabitants of Syria as most people here carry on with their daily lives in their own particular enclave.

Well received this past summer at the Tribeca Festival, the film in essence asks…But what happens after these displaced individuals find sanctuary and slip from the headlines?

Syrian refugees in transit from the documentary film, “Simple as Water.” Photo courtesy of Megan Mylan.

 This is what Academy Award-winner Megan Mylan points her lens upon. She highlights the everyday acts of courage and determination that drive her protagonists, featuring families in Turkey, Greece, the US, and Syria. From a soft-spoken Uber driver who sacrifices everything for his teenage brother to far-flung parents urged on by parental love, this timeless film explores ties that bind and the dreams that empower humans to overcome the unthinkable. 

While Mylan’s focus is about the refugees that escaped, there is much more about the civil war conflict that is ongoing. War has made the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic alarming. Outreach efforts in the war-torn region have been struggling.

UOSSM Canada (Union des Organisations de Secours et Soins Médicaux) is an independent medical relief foundation that provides humanitarian and medical assistance, through Canadian registered charities, to all victims of and those displaced by war regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or political affiliation.

At present, Syria is facing a dire situation as COVID-19 has made a devastating impact. Photo courtesy of UOSSM-Canada.

 As Dr. Anas Al-Kassem, the co-founder of UOSSM and the Vice-Chairman of UOSSM-Canada, recently noted“Given the low vaccination rates, shortages of essential medical supplies, and high positivity rate- Northwest Syria is in a dire situation. The support of the international community is key in tackling the pandemic and ensuring the health and safety of everyone.” 

When people in San Francisco get too caught up in their own little worlds and pampered precincts, something like SFFILM Doc Stories series is a creative reminder we are not alone in this world. 

“Documentary film connects us across time and space, and serves as a reminder of our many shared experiences as a community,” said SFFILM Director of Programming Jessie Fairbanks.  Come out to the theater, or watch from home, but don’t miss these lovely and important films.”

‘Simple as Water’ will be shown on Sat, Nov. 6 at 12:30 pm at The Vogue. Director Megan Mylan is expected to attend.

Many refugees, such as the ones featured in the film “Simple as Water,” spend many hours waiting in addition to fleeing, going from place to place to find safety and security in a new country that welcomes them. Photo courtesy of Megan Mylan.

The Four-Day Documentary Series Opens on November 4 with Stanley Nelson’s ATTICA, and Features a Castro Screening of SUMMER OF SOUL with Director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson in Attendance, plus Several West Coast Premieres Including THE FIRST WAVE, BURNING, and DIONNE WARWICK: DON’T MAKE ME OVER. Doc Stories concludes on November 7. Tickets for all film programs in-person and streaming are $13 for SFFILM members, $16 for general public. Tickets for live online talks and the community screening of Julia are free. Ticket 6-Packs for all regularly priced programs at 2021 Doc Stories only are $65 for SFFILM members, $80 for general public. An all-program Cinevisa is $250.00. Box office is now open online at the SFFILM website.