San Francisco International Film Festival Doc "Checkpoint" Takes Golden Gate
by Brian Brooks
The 47th San Francisco International Film Festival announced the recipients of its Golden Gate awards last week, concluding a 15-day event of screenings and other events in the city and surrounding Bay Area theaters. Additionally, the event awarded its $10,000 Skyy prize-winner for first narrative feature. This year's award went to Polish director Andrzej Jakimowski for his bohemian drama "Squint Your Eyes" (Zmruz oczy).
The Golden Gate Award for documentary feature went to Israeli doc "Checkpoint" by Yoav Shamir. The film, which received a $5,000 cash prize, filled a theater during its last screening last Tuesday night with audience members on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict at one point expressing their allegiances.
In other prizes, "Girl Trouble" by Lexi Leban and Lidia Szajko received the Bay Area documentary nod worth $2,500 in cash and $2,000 in lab services from AlphaCine Labs. Belgian director Nicolas Provost took the New Visions prize, which includes $1,500 in cash. The film screened in the festival's 'Motion Studies' shorts program. Polish film "A Life to Live" by Maciej Adamek won the documentary short award, while Annelise Wunderlich's "Crystal Harvest" won the Bay Area doc short award (both worth $1,500 in cash). "Chinese Dream" by Victor Quinaz received the narrative short award, and Robert Fox's "The Greater Vehicle" won Bay Area non-documentary short. Both filmmakers were given $1,500 along with the prizes. In addition to the Golden Gate Awards, Mongolian production "The Story of the Weeping Camel" by Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni were the recipients of the FIPRESCI award.
"Film Festivals [are like] 'windows on the world,'" commented festival director Roxanne Messina Captor to indieWIRE during the event. "[It is a concept] we're mandated to do, and in this day and age, that's important." SFIFF, a program of the San Francisco Film Society took place April 15 - 29. Most screenings were held at the AMC Kabuki Theaters in San Francisco's Japan Town neighborhood, with additional gala screenings at the historic Castro Theatre in the heart of the city's gay neighborhood in addition to programs taking place in nearby Berkeley and Mountain View.
The Kabuki also presented high-profile screenings of films including Yann Samuell's Paramount Classics feature, "Love Me If You Dare," which will be released in the U.S. later this month. The final weekend of the festival coincided with the Cherry Blossom festival near the Kabuki Theaters complete with Japanese food and performances ushering in spring, adding an additional festive element to the event.