The Secret Art of Human Flight (Local Spotlight)

Local Spotlight

Director H.P. Mendoza, producers Ben Wiessner & Tina Carbone, and screenwriter Jesse Orenshein expected to attend. Due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, actors Grant Rosenmeyer and Nican Robinson are no longer expected to attend.

There once was a young man named Ben, who had an extremely strange yen.
He wanted to fly, to soar through the sky!
So a curious book he did buy.
Children’s book author Ben Grady is stuck. Incapable of coping with the loss of his wife and creative partner, and despite the prodding of his loving sister, he has fully withdrawn from the world. While aimlessly scrolling through social media, Ben stumbles upon a video of a man stepping off a cliff and rising upwards into the sky. A dark web link in the otherwise skeptical comment section leads to a potentially regrettable credit card charge. Soon, a leather-bound sketchbook arrives, followed shortly by a tunic-wearing, necklace-bedecked stranger who claims he’s the man in the video and the author of the book The Secret Art of Human Flight. With this questionable guru as his guide, Ben embarks on a mission to follow the instructions in the book to the letter (even if the occasional word is misspelled), alarming his sister, annoying the neighbors, and arousing the suspicions of the local police force along the way. This endearing new film from multitalented local director H.P. Mendoza draws humor from the oddities of mourning and has the audience rooting for Ben to escape gravity. 

West Coast Premiere

H.P. Mendoza is a filmmaker known for his work as screenwriter/composer on Colma: The Musical (2006), and his art-house horror film, I Am a Ghost (2014) which was called “H.P. Mendoza’s objet d’art” by Dennis Harvey of Variety Magazine. Mendoza's musicals, including his directorial debut Fruit Fly (2009), have been described as "mumblechoral" by Steve Seid of BAMPFA, while David Lamble of the Bay Area Reporter dubbed Mendoza “San Francisco’s queer cinema poet”. In 2012, Mendoza was inducted into Essential SF by SFFILM who supported his dramedy Bitter Melon (2018), hailed as one of the “20 Best Bay Area Films of the Decade” by the Mercury News. Mendoza recently won the 2022 Grand Jury Prize at the Tallgrass Film Festival for his experimental musical, Attack, Decay, Release (2021).

Sponsored by the Nancy P. and Richard K. Robbins Family Foundation / Wareham Development


San Francisco Pass

$325 Members / $350 General Public

The San Francisco Pass offers complete access to all SFJFF43 screenings and events at the Castro Theatre and Vogue Theater from July 20–30, 2023. Includes admission to the Opening Night Party on July 20 at The Green Room.