I went to several events at the California Independent Film Festival, which mostly lives at the nearby Rheem and Orinda theaters (although it also puts in an appearance at the Castro theater in SF as well).
Opening night featured a tasty buffet, and two films. The first was a short called Jerome's Bouquet, which was clever and funny with a twist ending.
The feature on opening night was An Evergreen Christmas, coming out on DVD on Nov. 4, and, I assume, also headed for some theatrical release. My prediction: it could supplant 1983's A Christmas Story as the modern Christmas movie to beat. Great acting, many moving moments, and a happy ending.
Another full-length film I saw was the documentary Citizen Hearst, available on iTunes. It is 90 minutes of hagiography of Hearst himself (who disappears one-third of the way in), his newspapers (a little), his architecture (a little--NY HQ and San Simeon) and his fashion and lifestyle magazines (a lot). Not exactly investigative journalism, but fun and interesting if you care about the Hearst legacy.
Starring Adam West is a full-length documentary available on Amazon Instant Video. If you, like me, loved him as Batman, you must see this film. He had a career before Batman, and has had one since. The latter half of the film revolves around efforts to get him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is made to seem harder than it should have been. Not that I am doing a spoiler on whether he gets one or not...
Cas and Dylan stars Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana "Orphan Black" Maslany on a trans-Canadian buddy movie run. Very enjoyable. It won best picture at the festival, as well as best actor and actress for the leads. It has been out no DVD since August 12; I suggest you rent it. As of today, you can't buy it because it is out of stock (probably from the film festival).
Vingers is a slightly creepy movie about a male teacher fantasizing about his female students, then actually making a move while drunk and chaperoning a party.
Voluntario is a Spanish short in which a young slacker's parents figure out something he can do with his life. Nice twist.
Red Dot is about a woman who does something stupid (accidentally exposing herself to a 16-year-old girl) that gets her designated as a sex offender, requiring her to go to all the neighbors and inform them she is in the neighborhood.
Future Self should win an Oscar. It is a touching, well-acted, well-written, moving, clever short subject about a young man who meets his future self. Or does he? There is virtually no science-fiction element in it, at least until right near the end.
The Greggs is extremely weird.
Failure Groupies is hard to describe, so I'll quote IMDB: "A comedy following a group of suburban post-9/11 tweens who fail a group project and set up a spy mission to get their temperamental teacher fired." Amazingly, it does not fall into any of the cliches which it could have fallen into, and has a lovely twist ending to boot.