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"Micmacs," "Rivers" To Headline 53rd San Francisco Film Festival

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 30, 2010 at 6:6AM

The San Francisco International Film Festival has announced the lineup for its 53rd festival, running April 22 through May 6, 2010. Featuring 177 films from 46 countries in 31 different languages, the festival will bring "an inspired array of films from around the globe and a broad range of accompanying festivities."
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The San Francisco International Film Festival has announced the lineup for its 53rd festival, running April 22 through May 6, 2010. Featuring 177 films from 46 countries in 31 different languages, the festival will bring "an inspired array of films from around the globe and a broad range of accompanying festivities."

It all begins on April 22nd at the historic Castro Theatre with Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Micmacs," the French director's first film in five years, and will wrap up 15 days later with Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's acclaimed doc "Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work." In between, Josh Radnor's Sundance Audience Award winner "happythankyoumoreplease" will screen as the fest's Centerpiece, while Walter Salles, Robert Duvall, James Schamus, Roger Ebert, and Don Hertzfeldt will all be feted at the festival.

Brazilian director Salles will receive the Founder's Directing Award, and will additionally appear at the Sundance Kabuki Theatres Wednesday, April 28, at 6:45 pm for "An Evening with Walter Salles," where the special onstage tribute will include a clip reel of career highlights, an interview and a screening of "In Search of On the Road (a Work in Progress)", a compilation documentary about Salles's years-long effort to make a documentary about Jack Kerouac.

The Peter J. Owens Award, honoring an actor whose work exemplifies brilliance, independence, and integrity, will be given to Duvall, who will be on hand at the Castro on Friday, April 30 at 7:30 pm for an onstage interview, retrospective film clips, and a screening of his latest film "Get Low."

The Kanbar Award, honoring excellence in screenwriting, will be given to Schamus. On Saturday, May 1 at 1:00 pm at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Schamus, who received an Academy Award nomination for his work on Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," will participate in an onstage interview with critic and cultural theorist B. Ruby Rich, followed by a screening of the recently-completed director's cut of Lee's "Ride with the Devil."

The Film Society's Mel Novikoff Award, named for the pioneering San Francisco film exhibitor, is bestowed annually on "an individual or institution whose work has enhanced the filmgoing public's knowledge and appreciation of world cinema." This year's recipient is film critic Roger Ebert. At "An Evening with Roger Ebert and Friends," Saturday, May 1 at 5:30 pm at the Castro Theatre, Ebert will be joined by prominent colleagues including filmmakers Philip Kaufman, Errol Morris, Jason Reitman, and Terry Zwigoff for a celebration of his long career, followed by a screening of his chosen film for SFIFF53, Erick Zonca's "Julia," starring Tilda Swinton.

This year's Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award, which honors "a filmmaker working in forms other than narrative feature," goes to Academy Award-nominated short filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt. At "An Evening with Don Hertzfeldt," Friday, April 23 at 7:30 pm at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, Hertzfeldt will be presented with the award and participate in an onstage interview prior to a screening of "Life, Death and Very Large Utensils," a collection of many of his short films.

The festival's film competition include prizes for documentaries, narratives, and shorts. Eleven feature documentaries will participate in the juried Golden Gate competition for three prizes with total prize money of $60,000: Investigative Documentary ($25,000), Documentary ($20,000), and Bay Area Documentary ($15,000).

The contenders are: "Colony," by Ross McDonnell and Carter Gunn (Ireland /USA); "The Invention of Dr. Nakamats," by Kaspar Astrup Schroeder (Denmark); "Last Train Home," by Lixin Fan (Canada/China); "Marwencol," by Jeff Malmberg, (USA); "Mugabe and the White African," by Andrew Thompson and Lucy Bailey (England); "The Peddler," by Eduardo de la Serna, Lucas Marcheggiano, and Adriana Yurcovich (Argentina); "Pianomania," by Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis, (Austria/Germany); "Presumed Guilty," by Roberto Hernandez and Geoffrey Smith (Mexico;) "Restrepo," by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger (USA); "Russian Lessons," by Olga Konskaya and Andrei Nekrasov (Russia/Norway/Georgia); and "Simonal: No One Knows How Tough it Was," by Claudio Manoel, Micael Langer, and Calvito Leal (Brazil).

Twelve films will be in juried competition for the Festival's New Directors Prize, a $15,000 cash award given to a narrative first feature that exhibits a unique artistic sensibility and deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible.

This year's contenders are: "Alamar," by Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio (Mexico); "Animal Heart," by Severine Cornamusaz (France/Switzerland); "A Brand New Life," by Ounie Lecomte (South Korea/France); "The Day God Walked Away," by Philippe van Leeuw (France); "The Famous and the Dead," by Esmir Filho (Brazil/France); "Night Catches Us," by Tanya Hamilton (USA); "Northless," by Rigoberto Perezcano (Mexico/Spain); "La Pivellina," by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel (Austria/Italy); "Shirley Adams," by Oliver Hermanus (South Africa/USA); "Susa," by Rusudan Pirveli (Georgia); "Tehroun," by Nader Takmil Homayoun (France/Iran); and "You Think You're the Prettiest, But You Are the Sluttiest," by Che Sandoval (Chile).

The Golden Gate competition also awards eight prizes and $20,000 to short films and youth-produced works.

For a complete lineup and schedule of films, please visit the festival's website.