The Magic Shoes, about an Iranian boy and his Air Jordans, is one of several USC student films showing this weekend at the Berkeley Video & Film Festival. Berkeley High students can see the student films for free. Photo courtesy of BVFF

FILM FESTIVAL The Berkeley Video & Film Festival is a two-weekend feast of independent film, and it starts tonight, Oct. 30. Each year the East Bay Media Center narrows down(but not by much!) more than 100 submissions to a spectacular and international selection of shorts, animations, documentaries, and feature films. From a global dance documentary to animated sexual organs, there’s something for everyone. It all starts with a Student Film Marathon this weekend, and Berkeley High students get in free with ID. Otherwise, tickets for each film cost $10, or $5 for students and seniors, and they’re available at the door or by calling (510) 843-3699. A $25 pass gets you access to the whole festival. All films are screened at 1939 Addison Street.

MURDER BALLADS BASH Murder meets music at the Starry Plough this Friday, Oct .31. It’s the 13th annual Murder Ballads Bash, where ten varied acts explore death, gore, and misery — through song. And what better night for this killer event than Halloween? Audience members can steal some of the spotlight in a costume contest. The show starts at 9 p.m. at 3101 Shattuck Ave. Tickets are $8-$15, sliding scale.

LET’S TALK TWEEN In Berkeley there’s no shortage of literary events for adults, or story times for kids. Pegasus is making sure the ‘tweens get to talk books too. On Sunday, Nov. 2, four “middle grade” authors will read from their latest novels and chat with readers. The moderated discussion includes Esther Ehrlich (Nest), Mike Jung (Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities), Heather Mackey (Dreamwood), and Anne Nesbet (A Box of Gargoyles and a Cabinet of Earths). The free, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. event is at the North Berkeley Pegasus, at 1855 Solano Ave. Refreshments will be served.

CRUSH CRUSH and More is the culminating event of the 2014 season for the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, and it’s aptly named. It’ll be hard to leave it without having developed a crush on the entire Berkeley culinary scene. The event, at the DoubleTree Hotel at the Marina, provides samples from some of the best restaurants, bakeries, wineries, coffee roasters, and breweries in the city — with live music and networking opportunities for dessert. Tickets are $35 in advance or at the door. CRUSH is Sunday, Nov. 2 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 200 Marina Blvd.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS End the holiday weekend in the Gourmet Ghetto, where the annual Día de los Muertos celebration will be in full force on Sunday, Nov. 2. Bring photos or items honoring loved ones to contribute to a community altar — or come for the face painting and food trucks. Kids can continue the sugar-themed weekend by painting a sugar skull. Adults can supplement the sweets with beer and wine. The event begins at 5 p.m. and ends with a candle light procession from 7:45 p.m. to 9 p.m., where dancers bless the altar. Businesses throughout the neighborhood will feature Day of the Dead displays in their windows, but most of the activity will happen on Shattuck Ave. between Rose and Vine Streets. Guests are encouraged to wear traditional papier maché heads and other costumes.

Don’t miss these other events featured on Berkeleyside:

‘The Activist’: Locally sourced treasure of a movie
Shotgun’s ‘Harry Thaw Hates Everybody’ is sparkling

To find out what is going on in Berkeley and nearby, be sure to check out Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. And submit your own events: it’s self-serve and free.

Natalie Orenstein

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...