As the 56th San Francisco Film Festival draws to a close, this year’s award winners have been announced gaining prestige and over $70,000 in prizes.
First up is the New Director’s prize, given to the best film from a budding world director, carries a $15,000 prize and, of course, a hefty amount of distinction. This year’s winner was chosen by a panel consisting critic Betsy Sharkey, filmmaker Alicia Scherson and editor Charles Mudede. They awarded Turkish director Belmin Sölyemez and her film Present Tense “because of its intelligence, sensitivity, humor, honesty, humanism, great performances, and its refusal to supply easy answers or neat solutions to the tough questions that confront a structure of feeling shaped by the powerful and also alienating forces of global capitalism, urban redevelopment, and consumerist marketing…” The honorable mentions were for La Cirga from William Vega (Columbia/France Mexico) and Adrián Saba’s The Cleaner (Peru).
The Golden Gate Award Documentary Feature includes a $20,000 prize for this year’s best documentary film. This year’s jury included producer/director Bonni Cohen, cultural commentator David D’Arcy, and essayist Lisa Schwarzbaum and they decided to bestow the honor upon Kalyanee Mam’s documentary A River Changes Course (Cambodia). The jury noted that the “film stood out as an entity in terms of subject matter, beauty of filmmaking, elegance of expression, sensitivity, and representation of the people observed as they observe their own situation.”
The same jury also selected this year’s Bay Area Documentary Feature, highlighting a documentary from local filmmakers. The Kill Team from Dan Krauss took the gold this year for his documentary about abuse of military power in Afghanistan.
Further award winners include FIPRESCI Prize winner Nights with Theodore from Sébastian Betbeder, which was chosen from a panel of international judges. The Golden Gate Award Short Film winners include Narrative Short winner Ellen is Leaving from Michelle Saville (New Zealand), Documentary Short winner Kings Point from Sari Gilman (USA) and Animated Short winner Kali The Little Vampire from Regina Pessoa (Canada/France). Bay Area Short winners were awarded to First Prize film 3020 Laguna St. In Exitum from Ashley Rodholm and Joe Picard and Second Prize went to More Real from Jonn Herschend. The New Visions prize was awarded to Salmon from Alfredo Covelli (Irael/Italy) and the Family Film prize was awarded Luminaris from director Juan Pablo Zaramella (Argentina). Finally, and last but certainly not least, the Youth Work prize was awarded to Lance Oppenheim’s film The Dogmatic.
All in all it was another hugely successful year for SFIFF. Anyone interested in learning more about the awards and the films that won them (which everyone should definitely check out), head over to the festival’s official website for more information.