With the start of San Francisco’s Independent Film Festival tonight, a friend reminded us of a film shot in the Tenderloin that won an audience award there two years ago called, “Harrison Montgomery“. It seems the film was released last October, but screened only at the 4 Star Theater for about five minutes, and since we never go to the Richmond, we missed it. We’re still waiting for it to be available on Netflix, where it’s been coming soon for the last few months. In the meantime, here’s a little info about the film in case any of you hardcore Tenderloin lovers decide to shell out a few bucks and get the DVD on iTunes or on Amazon (or have connections and can get a copy for yourselves). And if you’ve already seen it, please leave your comment below.

“Harrison Montgomery” is a typical indie film in that it’s low-budget, filmed on location (in the Tenderloin), it’s the first feature by director Daniel Dávila and the main characters are played by unknown actors. However, one of the film’s appeal is seeing Martin Landau, who plays the character Harrison Montgomery. Even though he appears in very few scenes and “could hardly even be considered a backup singer on this song”, as put by a film critic. Here’s the plot, from the film’s website:

In San Francisco’s poverty-stricken Tenderloin district, would-be artist Ricardo Papa is trying to make ends meet as a petty drug dealer. On the run from his boss and on the outs with his girlfriend, he takes up residence in the dilapidated Hotel Boyd. There he crosses paths with thirteen-year-old Lattie Flemming who charms Ricardo with her fearless and beguiling attitude. As they grow closer, Ricardo learns that Lattie’s mother, Margo, is trapped in an abusive relationship that puts mother and child in jeopardy. When Ricardo desperately presses to make good on a deal gone bad, he encounters another of the Boyd’s residents, Harrison Montgomery. Ricardo discovers that this aging recluse has a secret – a secret that could solve all of Ricardo’s problems. With his boss closing in, and Margo and Lattie on the ropes, Ricardo is forced to choose between saving himself, and saving his only friends.

One last interesting bit about this film: in an interview for SF360, director Daniel Dávila, now based in LA but formerly a San Franciscan, says that the Tenderloin has “a pallet, rich tones, many of them earthy, all yellowed by age—a forgotten opulence that typifies the late 19th-early 20th century architecture of the neighborhood”. In case you didn’t know.