The popular -- yet still very "indie" -- San Francisco IndieFest kicks off its 9th annual festival with David Lynch's Inland Empire. It will be the first time Lynch's new film has screened in the Bay Area. The festival begins Thursday, February 8 at the Roxie Cinema, the Victoria Theatre, The Castro Theatre in San Francisco and the California Theatre in Berkeley, and runs through February 18. At first glance, the new festival offers a puzzling lineup, with no "name" directors (other than Lynch) and few stars. But a deeper look reveals some potential treasures.

I saw Kumakiri Kazuyoshi's Green Mind, Metal Bats, a bizarre kind of baseball black comedy about two washed-up players. One -- who was beaned in the head by a stray pitch -- has spent the years practicing his swing while working in a convenience store. He meets a sexy, drunk girl who suddenly moves in with him. The other, a pitcher with a bum elbow, has become a contemptuous bicycle cop. The film ends in the expected showdown between pitcher and hitter, but until then it wanders through all kinds of fascinating, deadpan territory.