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by Eugene Hernandez
May 6, 2010 4:45 AM
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"Alamar" & "Last Train Home" Honored at SF Fest

San Francisco Film Society Executive Director Graham Leggat with "Alamar" director Pedro González-Rubio (winner of the New Directors Award) at the SFIFF awards. Photo by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

Mexican director Pedro González-Rubio won the New Directors Award at the 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival for "Alamar" and Lixin Fan's "Last Train Home" won the investigative documentary prize at last night's ceremony in the Bay Area. Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis won the documentary feature prize for "Pianomania."

Lixin Fan's acclaimed observational documentary, his first feature, charts the dramatic annual Chinese immigration, looking at how the situation affects just one family. But, in doing so it reveals the challenges facing a changing nation and a troubled world. (indieWIRE first reported on the film at its world premiere last November at IDFA.) After the Amsterdam doc festival it went to Sundance, then New Directors/New Films in NYC and is also playing at Hot Docs this week.

Aimed at expressing love for a region of Mexico and respect for its fishermen, González-Rubio's "Alamar" wowed the audiences and the jury alike during this year's SF fest. The film, González-Rubio's follow-up to "Toro Negro" (Black Bull) stirred attention at the Toronto and Rotterdam festivals. The film looks at two men and a boy who work the Mexican sea for food.

"Last Train Home" director Lixin Fan accepting his Investigative Documentary Feature prize at SFIFF. Photo by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

"If it sounds simple, it is," wrote SFIFF's Jason Sanders, "But such is the beauty of a film that casually draws together nature and man, documentary and fiction, as if the art of moviemaking were the most innate, heartfelt act in the world."

Franck and Cibis' "Pianomania" is also a seemingly simple story, a look at a persistent but patient piano tuner in Vienna. The film observes a detailed, year-long look at tuner Stefan Knupfer as he preps a piano for an important recording session.

Lixin Fan won a $25,000 cash award for his prize, while Franck and Cibis' received $20,000 and González-Rubio won "$15,000. The San Francisco Film Society also presented a number of other large cash awards to support new projects.

A complete list of winners follows:

Golden Gate Award Documentary Feature Winners:

Investigative Documentary Feature: "Last Train Home," Lixin Fan (Canada/China 2009)
Winner receives $25,000 cash prize and Final Cut Studio software provided by Apple.

Documentary Feature: "Pianomania," Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis (Austria/Germany 2009)
Winner receives $20,000 cash prize and Final Cut Studio software provided by Apple.

Previously announced Golden Gate Award winner :

Bay Area Documentary Feature: "Presumed Guilty," Roberto Hernández, Geoffrey Smith (Mexico 2009)
Winner receives $15,000 cash prize, FInal Cut Studio software provided by Apple and $2,000 in lab services from EFILM Digital Laboratories.

New Directors Award: "Alamar," Pedro González-Rubio (Mexico 2009)
Winner receives $15,000 cash prize and Final Cut Studio software provided by Apple.

FIPRESCI Prize: "Frontier Blues," Babak Jalali (Iran/England/Italy 2009)


Golden Gate Award Short Film Winners:

"Youth Work: Moon Shoes," Joel Vanzeventer (USA 2009)
Winner receives $1,500 cash prize.

Honorable Mention: "Alisha," Daniel Citron (USA 2009)

Work for Kids and Families: "Leonardo," Jim Capobianco (USA 2009)
Winner receives $1,500 cash prize

Honorable Mention: "The Mouse That Soared," Kyle Bell (USA 2009)

Animated Short: "Tussilago," Jonas Odell (Sweden 2010)
Winner receives $2,000 cash prize

New Visions: "Release," Bill Morrison (USA 2009)
Winner receives $1,500 cash prize and 1,000 feet of Kodak film stock

Bay Area Short, First Prize: "Embrace of the Irrational," Jonn Herschend (USA 2009)
Winner receives $2,000 cash prize

Bay Area Short, Second Prize: "Leonardo," Jim Capobianco (USA 2009)
Winner receives $1,500 cash prize

Documentary Short: "The Shutdown," Adam Stafford (Scotland 2009)
Winner receives $5,000 cash prize

Narrative Short: "The Armoire," Jamie Travis (Canada 2009)
Winner receives $5,000 cash prize and 1,000 feet of Kodak film stock


In addition, the San Francisco Film Society and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced the five winners of the Spring 2010 SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grants. The grants are given twice annually to filmmakers for narrative feature films "with social justice themes that will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community."

Krisy Gosney for "Manhandled," $10,000 for script development

Annie Howell for "Black Kid," $25,000 for preproduction

Barry Jenkins for "Jeremiad," $35,000 for script development

Maryam Keshavarz for "Circumstance," $50,000 for post-production

Benh Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," $50,000 for post-production


SFFS and Film Arts Foundation Documentary Grants also awarded cash grants to five for documentary feature films in post-production. These one-time grants are awarded to filmmakers residing in the United States whose work "expresses both a unique personal perspective and an artistic approach to their chosen subject."

Christian Bruno for "Strand: A Natural History of Cinema," $5,000

Eugene Corr for "From Ghost Town to Havana," $5,000

Hayley Downs and Julie Kahn for "Swamp Cabbage," $5,000

Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza for "Dear Mandela," $5,000

David Weissman for "We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco," $5,000

[indieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez served on the documentary jury at the 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival.]

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