The 57th San Francisco International Film Festival finally wraps up Thursday night. But they’ve already announced the winners of the juried Golden Gate Award and New Directors Prize competitions, awarding nearly $40,000 in prizes to up-and-coming, as well as established, international filmmakers.
Over the course of this year’s 15-day go-round, led by new San Francisco Film Society executive director Noah Cowan and festival programmer Rachel Rosen, the fest played 168 films (74 of which were narrative features, 29 documentaries and 65 shorts), with 56 countries represented and 40 different languages; 3 World Premieres, 5 North American Premieres and 5 U.S. Premieres; with some 200 filmmakers and industry guests attending. The SFIFF tributed award-winners Disney/Pixar animation czar John Lasseter, Richard Linklater, who wowed a packed Castro Theatre with “Boyhood,” writer-director Steve Gaghan (“Syriana”), Jeremy Irons (the new Alfred in the next Batman vs. Superman movie) and critic David Thomson (“The Biographical History of Film”). (Here’s our mid-week awards-night coverage.)
Gia Coppola’s “Palo Alto,” which arrives in theaters May 9, was the fest’s centerpiece gala (we talk to the rookie director and her cast here).
The New Directors Prize went to “History of Fear,” from director Benjamin Naishtat, the Argentine sociological thriller that premiered in Berlin earlier this year. Jury members were Filmmaker Magazine Editor-in-Chief Scott Macaulay, Fandor cofounder Jonathan Marlow and critic Ella Taylor.
Special Jury Recognition prizes under the New Directors jury went to the African-set neo-noir “White Shadow,” by Israeli director Noaz Deshe, and “The Amazing Catfish,” Mexican helmer Claudia Sainte-Luce’s comedy-drama.
The Golden Gate Award for documentary feature went to Jesse Moss’s Sundance award winner “The Overnighters.” It portrays the plight of desperate men as they pursue a better life in the North Dakota oil fields while a devoted pastor risks everything to help them.
The Documentary feature jury was made up of Rob Epstein (filmmaker), Nathan Heller (journalist) and Film Society of Lincoln Center Co-Executive Director Lesli Klainberg.
The Golden Gate prize for Bay Area documentary feature went to Sara Dosa’s “The Last Season,” about rare-mushroom hunting in the Oregon woods. Talal Derki’s “Return to Homs,” a Syrian and German coproduction, scooped up the special jury prize as a window into the Syrian conflict.
The Golden Gate Award Short Film jury consisted of journalist Jonathan Kiefer, author Vendela Vida and filmmaker Diana Williams: winners are listed in full below.
Narrative Short (tie): “The Birds’ Blessing,” Serge Mirzabekiantz, (Belgium) & “So You’ve Grown Attached,” Kate Tsang (USA)
Documentary Short: “The High Five,” Michael Jacobs (USA)
Animated Short: “The Missing Scarf,” Eion Duffy (Ireland)
Bay Area Short (tie): “Santa Cruz del Islote,” Luke Lorentzen (USA) & “No One but Lydia,” Rob Richert (USA)
New Visions Short: “Numbers & Friends,” Alexander Carson (Canada)
Family Film: “The Dam Keeper,” Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi (USA)
Family Film Honorable Mention: “The Numberlys,” WIlliam Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg (USA)
Youth Work: “Epitaph,” Charles Blecker (USA)
Youth Work Honorable Mention: “Bay Area Girls Rock Camp,” Lily Yu, Judy Lee, Jeremiah Mellor (USA)