DISPATCH FROM CA: SFIFF Sizzles During Final Weekend
by Brian Brooks
The final weekend of the San Francisco International Film Festival included last night's cocktail party in honor of Jon Else, recipient of this year's Golden Gate Persistence of Vision award. The weekend included final screenings of the U.S. premieres of Brazilian director Carlos Degues's "God is Brazilian," across the bay in Berkeley, as well as the U.S. debut of English director Roger Michell's "The Mother."
San Francisco (not "San Fran" -- the natives hate that attempt at familiarity by outsiders) baked under an uncharacteristically warm sun throughout the weekend, but that did not deter a sizeable crowd from turning up early Sunday morning (if 10am is considered early) for a surprise screening of Quebec film Jean-François Pouliot's "La Grande Seduction" (Seducing Doctor Lewis). The film, which Wellspring will release July 2nd in New York and L.A., left the crowd in stitches with the antics of a small coastal village that pulls out all the tricks in order to convince a doctor to make the small hamlet his permanent residence.
SFIFF opened April 15th with Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee and Cigarettes," which festival programmer Linda Blackaby called "a wonderful beginning" to the event. Both Blackaby and executive director Roxanne Messina Captor, during a conversation with indieWIRE, touted the festival's signature Golden Gate awards as a spotlight program of the festival. The program selects 11 projects, named during the festival, that will receive developmental support from the San Francisco Film Society, the organizers of SFIFF.
"The Golden Gate awards as well as docs and shorts are distinctive [aspects] of this festival," commented Blackaby. "There is a range of [documentary filmmaking] in San Francisco, the region is a hot bed of experimental and personal filmmaking," added Captor about the important function the awards provide to promote independent filmmaking in the Bay Area as well as globally.
Also receiving honors over the weekend was Milos Forman, who was presented with the event's Lifetime Achievement in Directing prize Friday evening, complete with a screening of his 1979 production "Hair." "People here recognized why we chose 'Hair,'" said Balackably. "You may as well have the newspaper held up during the screening," Blackaby added relating the film's Vietnam conflict-based story with today's events in Iraq.
SFIFF continues through Thursday with the closing night screening of director Peter Howitt's "Laws of Attraction."