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55th San Francisco International Film Festival wrapped
The San Francisco Film Society wrapped its 55th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 19 - May 3) with 289 screenings of 174 films from 45 countries, which were attended by 201 filmmakers and industry guests from over 20 countries around the globe.
"I want to thank the terrific San Francisco Film Festival for this terrific award in this terrific film community," exclaimed David Webb Peoples, recipient of this year's Kanbar Award for excellence in screenwriting.
Festival audiences shared Peoples' enthusiasm. The festival sold out 178 screenings during its 15-day run, including the 1,400-seat Castro Theatre for both Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs) with Buster Keaton Shorts and the Closing Night film, Ramona S. Diaz's Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey, underscoring the strong demand for the unique programming that the Film Society brings to the Bay Area. Particularly popular were the over 124 screenings featuring special guests.
"San Francisco audiences are passionate about independent and international cinema," said SFFS interim director Melanie Blum. "For 15 days they have enthusiastically filled the SFIFF theaters to appreciate the creative programming of exceptional films, gifted filmmakers and once-in-a-lifetime live events selected by Director of Programming Rachel Rosen and her talented team. The 55th SFIFF was a truly remarkable celebration of international cinema."
Film Society Awards Night, the organization's gala fundraiser, cochaired this year by Susie and Pat McBaine and Katie and Todd Traina, raised more than $500,000. Proceeds from this event benefit the Film Society's Youth Education program, which serves 10,000 Bay Area students and teachers annually.
Sponsors and Partners
"I've always been astounded and had a degree of reverence for American generosity," said Judy Davis. "Some of the most important and moving moments of my career have been with Americans ... I must thank you for that. It is one of the great American qualities, frankly, your generosity."
Attending the festivities were Google V.P. Marissa Mayer, venture capitalist Dick Kramlich and his wife Pamela, Web 2.0 venture capitalist David O. Sacks and his wife Jacqueline, San Francisco society hostesses Denise Hale and Dede Wilsey, socialite Vanessa Getty, investor Paul Pelosi, CEO of Shaklee Corporation Roger Barnett and his wife Sloan and newly appointed head of Bulgari North America Alberto Festa.
Numerous guests graced the stage during SFIFF55, starting on Opening Night with Farewell, My Queen director Benoît Jacquot and continuing throughout the festival. Celebrated documentarian Barbara Kopple was in town to receive the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award. Directors Harmony Korine, Aleksei Fedorchenko and Jan Kwiecinski attended the Festival for the world premiere of their omnibus film The Fourth Dimension starring Val Kilmer and produced by Vice Media's Eddy Moretti, who were also both in attendance. Cinephile par excellence Pierre Rissient received the Mel Novikoff Award and entertained a crowd of film-lovers during a conversation at the Castro Theatre.
The Festival wrapped up with a few final high profile screenings. The Centerpiece film, Your Sister's Sister, was shown to an exclusive crowd with star Rosemarie DeWitt in attendance. The festivities ended on a high note with the packed Closing Night screening of Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey, attended by Journey -- Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory, Deen Castronovo, Arnel Pineda -- and director Ramona S. Diaz.
Live & Onstage Events
Schools at the Festival
One elementary school boy endearingly sought new insight into cinema after a screening of The Storytellers Show when he asked filmmaker Katie Mahalic (The Vacuum Kid) "Is it hard work to be a filmmaker? Do you get sweaty?"
Master Classes and Salons at the Festival
The FIPRESCI jury, comprised of Andrés Nazarala, Claire Valade and Dennis West, chose The Exchange by Eran Kolirin (Israel/Germany).The jury described it as a "quietly subversive portrait of a man unhinged" and selected it "for the strength of its original use of cinematic language in exploring the fabric of reality, for its surprising yet unsettling sense of humor, for the coherence of its unique artistic vision." FIPRESCI, the influential international organization of film critics, supports cinema as an art and as an autonomous means of expression. The San Francisco International Film Festival is one of only three festivals in the United States to host a FIPRESCI jury and award a FIPRESCI prize.
A total of $55,000 in prizes were awarded by Golden Gate Awards juries at the International this year, with $35,000 going to winners in two categories: Documentary Feature ($20,000) and Bay Area Documentary Feature ($15,000). The Festival's Golden Gate Awards were held on Wednesday, May 2 at Rasselas Restaurant & Jazz Club. The documentary features jury was comprised of Laura Gabbert, Dennis Lim and John Maringouin. The GGA for Best Documentary Feature was presented to It's the Earth Not the Moon by Gonçalo Tocha (Portugal). Best Bay Area Documentary Feature was presented to The Waiting Room by Peter Nicks (USA).
The short film jury was made up of Vicci Ho, Jon Korn and Jan Krawitz. They awarded Best Documentary Short to I'm Never Afraid by Willem Baptist (Netherlands). The Best Narrative Short was awarded to Surveillant by Yan Giroux (Canada). First place for Best Bay Area Short went to Aquadettes by Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper (USA), with second place going to Workers Leaving the Googleplex by Andrew Norman Wilson (USA). The GGA Youth Work winner was Metro by Eric Brownrout and Nick Escobar (USA), with Life as a Collage by Forrest Penrod (USA) receiving an Honorable Mention. The Family Film winner was The Storyteller by Nandita Jain (England), and the Honorable Mention went to The Vacuum Kid by Katie Mahalic (USA). The Best Animated Short was Belly by Julia Pott (England) and Best New Visions winner was 20Hz by Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gerhardt (England).
The SFIFF55 Audience Awards gave filmgoers the opportunity to select their favorite narrative and documentary feature. The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's The Intouchables, with Aurora Guerrero's Mosquita y Mari also scoring well with festivalgoers. The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Peter Nicks' The Waiting Room, with Rory Kennedy's Ethel also tallying high votes from the viewers.
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