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All the Buzz on Film Festival Awards, Celebrity Tributes and the Film Awards Season.

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Kathryn Bigelow, Kate Winslet, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani Announced as SFFILM's 60th Anniversary Awards Night Honorees


Event’s New Position in the Fall Calendar and Focus on Top 2017 Titles and Artists to Better Support SFFILM’s Youth Education Programs

SFFILM has announced several honorees scheduled to attend the 2017 SFFILM Awards Night (formerly Film Society Awards Night), its annual fundraising celebration honoring achievement in filmmaking craft. The historic 60th anniversary edition of the dinner and awards presentation event—newly positioned in the fall after decades as part of April’s San Francisco International Film Festival—takes place Tuesday, December 5 at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Exhibition Center.

SFFILM Awards Night supports the organization’s various year-round initiatives including SFFILM Education, which will utilize raised funds to increase the number of Bay Area youth served by film screenings that inspire meaningful social dialogue, while using student, family, and teacher feedback to build national lesson plans on a new platform to be rolled out in 2018 and 2019.
The guests of honor at SFFILM Awards Night will be the recipients of the organization’s prestigious awards for film craft: Kathryn Bigelow (Detroit) will receive the Irving M. Levin Award for Film Direction; Kate Winslet (Wonder Wheel) will receive the Peter J. Owens Award for Acting; and the creative duo of Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) will receive the Kanbar Award for Storytelling. Celebrity presenters and additional awards will be announced in the coming weeks.


“We are thrilled that Awards Night’s move to December has inspired such exceptional talent to join us,” said SFFILM Executive Director Noah Cowan. “These artists were selected because their work embodies the values of the Bay Area—in particular their role in championing innovative cinema, making the industry more diverse and inclusive, and actively participating in the social dialogue that is so desperately needed today. We hope that, by championing these artists and these values, SFFILM can have a positive effect on the awards conversations that dominate media this time of year.”
One of San Francisco’s most highly anticipated film events and social gatherings, SFFILM Awards Night, is taking place for the first time in December, moving into a new position in the city’s fall calendar and leveraging the Bay Area’s increasing awards season relevance. Public screenings and onstage talks will accompany SFFILM Awards Night, with announcements to follow in the coming weeks.

Irving M. Levin Award for Film Direction: Kathryn Bigelow
The Irving M. Levin Award for Film Direction is presented each year to one of the masters of world cinema and is given in memory the founder of the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1957. Past recipients include Mira Nair (2016), Guillermo del Toro (2015), Richard Linklater (2014) Philip Kaufman (2013), Kenneth Branagh (2012), Oliver Stone (2011), Walter Salles (2010), Francis Ford Coppola (2009), Mike Leigh (2008), Spike Lee (2007) and Werner Herzog (2006).
Kathryn Bigelow is a two-time Academy Award® winner and an artist of singular talent, known for acclaimed films including The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. As a director and producer, she has crafted a body of work that challenges genre norms and offers viscerally stunning portraits of characters and conflicts. Bigelow’s latest film, Detroit, is a crime drama that explores systemic racism in urban Detroit, and is set against the backdrop of the city’s devastating riots that took place over five tumultuous summer days in 1967. Bigelow is director and producer of the ensemble film, which was released by Annapurna Pictures on August 4, 2017. Bigelow supports many environmental and animal welfare charities. She continues to shed light on the dangers of the ivory trade in both Last Days—a short film portraying the wildlife trafficking industry, profits for terrorist groups, and the threat of elephant extinction in only 11 years; and The Protectors—a virtual reality short film exposing the dangerous reality faced by rangers protecting African elephants, which she co-created with Imraan Ismail for National Geographic. In 2015, Bigelow participated in a powerful panel discussion on Capitol Hill, which resulted in Obama signing into law H.R. 2494—the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2016—protecting elephants, rhinos and other endangered species from an international poaching and trafficking trade that is decimating animal populations worldwide and funding armed militias. Furthermore, China embraced the action and announced plans to end its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017.

Kanbar Award for Storytelling: Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
The Kanbar Award acknowledges the critical importance that storytelling plays in the creation of outstanding films. The award is named in honor of Maurice Kanbar, a longtime member of the board of directors of SFFILM, a San Francisco film commissioner and a philanthropist with a particular interest in supporting independent filmmakers. Past recipients include Tom McCarthy (2016), Paul Schrader (2015), Stephen Gaghan (2014), Eric Roth (2013), David Webb Peoples (2012), Frank Pierson (2011), and James Schamus (2010).
Emily V. Gordon co-wrote this summer’s hit film The Big Sick, alongside her husband Kumail Nanjiani. The movie, which grossed over $40 million domestically making it the top performing independent/platform release of the year, tells the story of the beginning of her relationship with Kumail. It's been called one of the best films of the year and one of the best romantic comedies of the past decade. Gordon is a former couples and family therapist and current writer and producer. She has written for The Carmichael Show on NBC, Another Period on Comedy Central, and Crashing on HBO, and created and produced three seasons of The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail on Comedy Central. She is also the author of the funny but genuine self-improvement guide Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero.

Kumail Nanjiani is a critically acclaimed actor, writer and comedian who recent starred in and co-wrote The Big Sick with his wife Emily V. Gordon. The film tells the story of their real-life relationship. Produced by Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel and directed by Michael Showalter, Nanjiani stars opposite Holly Hunter, Zoe Kazan and Ray Romano. The film premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews and was released by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate this past Summer. Nanjiani is known for his co-starring role as Dinesh on the award-winning HBO comedy series Silicon Valley, which won the TV Critics Choice Award for Best Comedy Series last year and has two Emmy and Golden Globe wins, as well as several Emmy and Golden Globes nominations. He will next be seen in Universal’s untitled buddy cop comedy opposite John Cena where the two play police officers who develop a grudging respect for one another.

Peter J. Owens Award for Acting: Kate Winslet
The Peter J. Owens Award, named after the late local cultural benefactor and longtime SFFILM board member, honors an actor whose work exemplifies brilliance, independence and integrity. Past recipients include Ellen Burstyn (2016), Richard Gere (2015), Jeremy Irons (2014), Harrison Ford (2013), Judy Davis (2012), Terence Stamp (2011), Robert Duvall (2010), Robert Redford (2009), Maria Bello (2008), and Robin Williams (2007).

Academy Award®–winning actress Kate Winslet has brought to life some of cinema’s most captivating and memorable roles. Her resumé consists of critically and commercially acclaimed work as well as a span of awards and honors that illustrate her talent and solidify her a permanent place in cinema history. Winslet won her first Academy Award® in 2008, after a stunning past five nominations, for her role as Hanna Schmitz in Stephen Daldry’s The Reader. She also won a Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice Award, among many others, for the role. Winslet also starred that year in Sam Mendes’s Revolutionary Road, which reteamed her with Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio. She won a Golden Globe and received many nominations for her portrayal of April Wheeler. In 2015, Winslet starred opposite Michael Fassbender in Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, for which she received Golden Globe, BAFTA, AACTA, and London Critics Circle wins along with SAG and Oscar nominations. Most recently, Winslet was seen in Hany Abu-Assad’s The Mountain Between Us opposite Idris Elba. She will next be seen in Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel opposite Jim Belushi, Justin Timberlake, and Juno Temple.

SFFILM Awards Night will be taking place in the Exhibition Center at the Palace of Fine Arts, the recently renovated, spacious and dynamic event space managed by Non Plus Ultra Inc, San Francisco’s premiere events management company. This year’s event will be co-chaired by SFFILM Board members Heidi Fisher and Sonya Yu. Proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit SFFILM’s year-round programs in media education and artist development.

For information about attending SFFILM Awards Night, visit