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By Jeffrey M. Anderson
Published: Thursday, February 3, 2005 10:35 AM PST
Special to the Examiner
While safe, impersonal films dart up and down the box office chart and across the screens of The City's multiplexes, the Seventh San Francisco Independent Film Festival deliberately goes out of its way to program films that provoke, tickle and shatter.

Indeed, if anything close to ordinary passes in front of the festival programmers' noses, they point skyward, favoring instead gutsy fare like the festival's killer opening-night film, Asia Argento's extraordinary "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things," screening tonight at 7 at the Castro Theater.

Based on J.T. Leroy's collection of true short stories, this compulsively watchable film depicts the life of a small foster child (Jimmy Bennett) who unwillingly falls back into the arms of his unstable birth mother (Argento) and her life of drugs, sex and other torments. The daughter of horror filmmaker Dario Argento, Asia's fearless camera so potently dives into this story that even hardened mavericks like Abel Ferrara or Lars von Trier would be likely to cry for their mommies.