According to a SFIFF press reelase, the SFIFF tribute will celebrate del Toro’s “exceptional versatility in film and mastery of building fantastic yet familiar worlds, populating them with disorienting and heroic monsters, brings audiences deep inside the living, oozing heart of his rich world of ideas and images.”
Del Toro will also be honored at “An Evening with Guillermo del Toro” at the Castro Theatre, Saturday April 25, 8:00 pm complete with onstage interview and clips from his directing career as well as a sneak peek at such projects as TV series “The Strain” and fall tentpole “Crimson Peak
,” followed by a screening of his chilling horror classic “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001), a political allegory set during the Spanish Civil War.
SFFS executive director Noah Cowan sees the spring and summer festivals
outside the awards corridor as “championing
high quality cinema all year long.” Last year, he points out, Oscar contenders “Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Boyhood” “used the spring zone successfully.”
Cowan recognized Del Toro as an enthusiastic educator and speaker after bringing him to multiple appearances at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. Coming up is another season of Del Toro’s horror TV series “The Strain,” on which he remains a creative force, as well as Legendary/Universal’s big-budget extravaganza “Crimson Peak,” which boasts spectacular VFX from the Bay Area’s ILM, as did “Pacific Rim.”
“He’s done the most interesting trick in cinema these days,” says Cowan, “directing both the highest grossing blockbusters of all time and great art films: only filmmakers like Spielberg have that ability.” Cowan visited the set of “Crimson Peak” and believes this film could “bring together Del Toro’s incredible ability to convey large-screen action and intimate horror inside politics in the way we loved so much in ‘Pan’s Labyrinth.'”
Cowan is working on expanding ILM owner Lucasfilm’s SFFS art and science series into a national program. “The Bay Area is really the stealth filmmaking capitol,” he says. “All of this below-the-line technology here is instrumental to the idea of contemporary cinema.”
Here’s some biographical background on Del Toro from the SFIFF:
Del Toro burst onto the international scene with Cronos (1993), winner of nine Ariel Awards from the Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences and the Cannes’ International Critics Week prize. The Devil’s Backbone solidified his reputation as a masterful storyteller, while Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) opened to worldwide acclaim, winning three Oscars and garnering Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film. Del Toro continued to develop his unique directorial style with fan favorites Blade II (2002), Hellboy (2004) and Pacific Rim (2013), which was one of the highest grossing live action films that year, topping $400 million at the box office worldwide. The Strain, his 2009 vampire novel co-authored with Chuck Hogan, was recently adapted for television and developed into an FX series, and audiences eagerly await his upcoming gothic thriller Crimson Peak, set to release in October 2015.
Del Toro is notable for multi-faceted projects and collaborations with the cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, actors Ron Perlman and Doug Jones, and for his influential friendships with fellow Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Beyond his contributions to directing, del Toro works as an activist, author and film historian, and has screenwriting and production credits on over thirty films. From the fairytale friendships of Pan’s Labyrinth to the haunting coastlines of Pacific Rim, he is responsible for numerous stories, characters and landscapes sparking the imagination of fresh and seasoned audiences alike.
The Irving M. Levin Directing Award is presented each year to a master of world cinema in memory of Irving M. Levin, founder of the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1957. It was first bestowed in 1986 on iconic filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. Previous recipients are:
Richard Linklater, USA; Philip Kaufman, USA; Kenneth Branagh, England; Oliver Stone, USA; Walter Salles, Brazil; Francis Ford Coppola, USA; Mike Leigh, England; Spike Lee, USA; Werner Herzog, Germany; Taylor Hackford, USA; Milos Forman, Czechoslovakia/USA; Robert Altman, USA; Warren Beatty, USA; Clint Eastwood, USA; Abbas Kiarostami, Iran; Arturo Ripstein, Mexico; Im Kwon-Taek, South Korea; Francesco Rosi, Italy; Arthur Penn, USA; Stanley Donen, USA; Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal; Ousmane Sembène, Senegal; Satyajit Ray, India; Marcel Carné, France; Jirí Menzel, Czechoslovakia; Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA; Robert Bresson, France; Michael Powell, England; and Akira Kurosawa, Japan.