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San Franciscans Share Their Favorite San Fran Movies

Favorite Films from the City by the Bay

San Franciscans Share Their Favorite San Fran Movies

Five San Franciscans offer up their favorite San Francisco films.


Barry Jenkins' Top Five San Francisco Films

The Pursuit of Happyness

A perfect snapshot of San Francisco. Seeing Will Smith in a BART station circa the film's period brings a special joy to us San Franciscans. The film is somewhat prophetic as, through the entirety of the picture, it's the character's class and not race that poses the conflict between him and the city.


So I Married An Axe Murderer

The single most underrated film of Mike Meyers’ career also happens to feature two of San Francisco's least noted cultural scenes: spoken word and jazz. In So I Married An Axe Murderer, Meyers manages to marry the beginnings of a bohemian (if a bit yuppy) rebirth of cool in the city with some of his best comedy. North Beach comes off quite nicely.


The Princess of Nebraska

This little known (though viewable in its entirety on YouTube) Wayne Wang film tells the story of a Chinese exchange student come to San Francisco by way of Nebraska. Shot DIY with minimal crew and budget, it captures the raw energy of a San Francisco less known outside our city: the emerging generation of young, de-traditionalized Chinese and Chinese-Americans.


The Game/Zodiac

I'm not sure whether the San Francisco setting or David Fincher's skill as a filmmaker is more responsible for these films’ inclusion. Regardless, the two San Francisco films of this director are certainly two of the city's best appearances on screen. Zodiac in particular is a two-dimensional, light-and-sound time capsule of Bay Area history: the pairing of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" with the construction of the Transamerica Pyramid in time lapse photography is but one of Fincher's spot-on odes to the city.


40 Days, 40 Nights

Guilty pleasure? Perhaps!? Still, this Josh Hartnett flick nails so many details just right: public transit, Laundromat culture, the new media industry, Victorian interiors, bay windows and, most importantly, the pleasure of walking our city. Not bad for a broad romantic comedy.

Barry Jenkins
Barry Jenkins - LEADPHOTO

Barry Jenkins is a filmmaker born and raised in the inner city of Miami. After completing a bachelor's degree in film and creative writing, he relocated to Los Angeles where he worked as a director's assistant and development associate for Harpo Films. Jenkins currently resides in San Francisco, working for the rent check by day and writing, writing and writing by night. He is the writer-director of the short films My Josephine and Little Brown Boy. Medicine For Melancholy, set entirely in San Francisco, is his first feature film, and it will be released by IFC Films this Spring.

Jenkins used San Francisco to maximum effect in shooting Medicine For Melancholy (a film that showed up Graham Leggat’s list). So we asked him for his five favorite films set in San Francisco.

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