SFIFF Picks "Weather Underground" as Top Doc, "Man of the Year" Also Big Winner

by Eugene Hernandez

A shot from Sam Green and Bill Siegel's "The Weather Underground," winner of the Golden Gate Award for best documentary feature at the 2003 San Francisco International Film Festival.

Courtesy of ITVS

Sam Green and Bill Siegel's "The Weather Underground" won the Golden Gate Award for best documentary feature at the 2003 San Francisco International Film Festival. The filmmakers won $5,000 cash and a Final Cut Pro system as the festival presented its annual awards. The prize for best Bay Area documentary feature went to Job Shenk and Megan Mylan for "Lost Boys of Sudan."

The winner of the Skyy Prize for first narrative feature was Jose Henrique Fonseca from Brazil for "The Man of the Year." He won a $10,000 award. The Golden Gate Award for new visions went to "Fall (3 Parts)" by Leighton Pierce, while Australian director Sascha Ettinger-Epstein's "Painting With Light in a Dark World" won the award for best doc short and S. Smith Patrick's "The Children of Ibdaa: To Create Something Out of Nothing" won the Bay Area doc short prize. Samuel MacGeorge won the narrative short prize for "The Way Back" and Christopher Arcella won the Bay Area narrative short award for "Frequency Response-Observations." David Russo won the animated short award for "Pan With Us."

The VIRGINMEGA Audience Awards went to "Whale Rider" and "The Cuckoo," which shared the narrative prize, while "Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'Ehukai" won the prize for best documentary.

The festival closed with a screening of Mark Decena's "Dopamine" last night. This year's event sold 94,500 tickets, marking a 5 percent jump from last year's record-breaking festival attendance. At the awards program this week, Lily Tomlin presented the lifetime achievement in directing award to Robert Altman.

Other award winners at the 46th San Francisco International Film Festival include "Chavez 101" by Youth in Video Students of the Latino Film Festival San Francisco Bay Area (Golden Gate Award, Youth Works), Vara Broadcasting Company in The Netherlands' "The Enclave" (TV Narrative Long Form), Sveriges Television in Sweden's "Cleo" (TV Narrative Short Form), Arte France's "Masters and Slaves" (Television Documentary Long Form,) and Arte France & MK2TV's "Behind the Words of Edna O'Brien" (Honorable Mention, TV Documentary Short Form).