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54th San Francisco International Film Festival wrapped

The San Francisco Film Society wrapped its 54th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 21 - May 5) with 265 screenings of 193 films from 48 countries, which were attended by 278 filmmakers and industry guests from 22 countries around the globe.

"I had a hell of a good time!" exclaimed Frank Pierson, recipient of this year's Kanbar Award for excellence in screenwriting. "I enjoyed the informality of spirit and the professionalism of execution of the whole event."

This spirit was passed on to the audience, who helped the Festival to sell out 130 screenings during its 15-day run, emphasizing the strong demand for the unique programming that the Film
Society brings to the Bay Area. Of particular popularity were the 134 screenings featuring special guests.  

"Once again our audience brought a unique enthusiasm and knowledge to the Festival," said Graham Leggat, SFFS executive director. "This was combined with the Festival's original programming, headed by Director of Programming Rachel Rosen, which featured numerous live events and a record number of films by female directors.
Together they made this year's International truly one to remember."

The audience enthusiasm was also noticed by Nostalgia for the Light director Patricio Guzmán, who commented on the "excellent post-screening discussions."

Additionally, Film Society Awards Night, the organization's gala fundraiser, chaired this year by Melanie and Larry Blum, raised more than $500,000. Proceeds from this event benefit the
Film Society's Youth Education program, which serves roughly 10,000 Bay Area schoolchildren annually.

Star-Studded Nights

Film Society Awards Night
honored three world-class film talents at Bimbo's 365 Club on April 28.
Honorees were Oliver
Stone
, recipient of the Founderʼs
Directing Award, presented by producer Ed
Pressman
; Terence
Stamp
, recipient of the Peter J. Owens Award for his acting
career, presented by Sight
& Sound
editor Nick
James
; and Frank
Pierson
, who was presented his award by former president of the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Sid Ganis.

"It was a real epiphany
for me," said Terence Stamp. "The past few days have been a true
hallmark in my life. It felt like a whole evening of untethered love."

Attending the festivities
were director Lynn
Hershman Leeson
of
!Women Art Revolution
; board member Carla Emil and her husband Rich Silverstein of
Goodby Silverstein; Tom
Bernard
, copresident of Sony Pictures Classics; board member Celeste Meier and
her husband Anthony
Meier
of Anthony Meier Fine Arts; venture capitalist Dick Kramlich and
his wife Pamela;
board member Todd
Traina
and his wife Katie;
gallery owner Serge
Sorokko
and his wife, model Tatiana Sorokko; board member and
restaurateur Doug
Biederbeck
and his wife Jennifer;
novelist Robert Mailer
Anderson
and his wife Nicola
Miner
; board member
Fred Levin
and his wife Nancy
Livingston
; filmmaker Jake
Kornbluth
; art dealer Sabrina
Buell
; president and founder of the Tin Man Fund Ann Hatch; head of
Chronicle Books Nion
McEvoy
; former ambassador Jim Hormel; and Minority Leader of the
House of Representatives Nancy
Pelosi
.

"Film Society Awards
Night was such a fun evening," observed an Awards Night guest.
"Bimbo's and the supper club format for the evening made it so intimate,
even though there were over 400 people. The Film Society really knows how to
put on an exciting large-scale event."

Numerous guests graced the
stage during SFIFF54, starting on Opening Night with Beginners director Mike Mills and actor
Ewan McGregor
and continuing throughout the Festival. Celebrated multimedia artist Matthew Barney was
in town to receive the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award. Film archivist,
programmer and showman Serge
Bromberg
presented a display of some of the earliest examples
of 3-D films at the Castro Theatre.

"I was looking for an
excuse to come back here," said Bromberg. "The Castro is the right place to show
these films."

Legendary actor Terence Stamp
enthralled the audience during his interview with film critic Elvis Mitchell before
the screening of hard-to-find Frederico Fellini film Toby Dammit.
Up-and-coming actors Zoe
Saldana
and Clifton
Collins Jr.
entertained the audience while being honored with
the Midnight Awards. Director Errol
Morris
returned to the Festival with his latest film, the
documentary Tabloid

"I owe my career in part
to the world premiere screening of The
Thin Blue Line
at the Festival," reminisced Morris. "I
will keep coming back."

Writer/director/actress Miranda July was in
attendance with her latest work The
Future
. Writer/actress Brit
Marling
and actor William
Mapother
presented their film Another Earth. The Mill and the Cross, the latest piece by
acclaimed Polish director Lech
Majewski
, was shown to enthusiastic crowds. Director Maryam Keshavarz
brought her film Circumstance
to the Festival.

The Festival wound down with
a few final high profile screenings. The Centerpiece film, Terri, was shown with
director Azazel Jacobs
and stars John C.
Reilly
,
Creed Bratton
and
Jacob Wysocki
in attendance. Closing Night then featured a
screening of On Tour,
which was accompanied by a performance by Mimi Le Meaux, Kitten on the Keys,
Evie Lovelle and Rocky Roulette, four of the burlesque dancers in the film.

Live & Onstage
Events

Kicking off the Live & Onstage
program on April 24 was the State
of Cinema Address
, delivered by groundbreaking producer of
independent films Christine Vachon. Also on April 24 was From A to Zellner,
during which the prolific filmmaking duo the Zellner Brothers showcased selections
from their considerable collection of short films, complete with accompanying
song and dance numbers and their keyboard-playing grandfather. New Skin for the Old Ceremony
presented a tribute to the legendary Leonard Cohen on April 26. The event
featured 11 new short films inspired by his songs, a screening of the classic
documentary Ladies and
Gentlemen . . . Mr. Leonard Cohen
and live renditions of several
Cohen songs by local musicians Kelley Stoltz and the duo Pale Hoarse. Composer
Stuart Staples collaborated with world-renowned French filmmaker Claire Denis
on Tindersticks:
Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009
, in which Staples' band
Tindersticks performed live their original scores to scenes from six of Denis'
films. Finally, San Francisco's beloved Porchlight
storytelling series returned to the Festival, captivating story lovers on May
3. The event featured six storytellers accompanied by a video clips, each
telling tales of their filmmaking experiences.

Local Cinema

The 54th International
featured 23 local narrative and documentary features and short films. Among the
Bay Area features were The
Selling
by Emily Lou, !Women Art Revolution by Lynn
Hershman Leeson, American
Teacher
by Vanessa Roth, Better This World by Kelly Duane
de la Vega and Katie Galloway, Crime
After Crime
by Yoav Potash, Miss Representation
by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Something
Ventured
by Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine. Bay Area shorts
were also abundant and included The
Cap
(Arjun Rihan), Chromatastic (Kerry Laitala), Come to the Table
(Zoe Salnave), The
D Train
(Jay Rosenblatt), Escape from Suburbia
(Mayana Bonapart), Fire
Bad
(Isaac Wolfe), Independence in Sight (Sydney Paige
Matterson, Lauren Lindberg, Julian Compagni-Portis, Bonita Tindle), India Export
(Raphael Linden), Library
of Dust
(Ondi Timoner, Robert James), The Math Test
(Sam Rubin), Play
by Play
(Carlos Baena), Self Portrait as a PowerPoint Proposal for an Amusement
Park Ride
(Jonn Herschend), The Snowman
(Kelly Wilson, Neil Wrischnik), Tourist
Trap
(Skye Thorstenson), Young Dracula (Alfred Seccombe) and
Z-Man
(Nat Talbot).

Schools at the
Festival

This year SFFS Youth
Education's Schools at the Festival program celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Many filmmakers participated, with 23 local and international guests discussing
their films and craft in classrooms during the program's 31 school visits,
reaching 1360 elementary, middle and high school students. Teachers were also
invited to bring their students to 18 school screenings held at the Sundance
Kabuki Cinemas. More than 3,000 students from schools across the Bay Area
attended these Schools at the Festival screenings, part of the year-round Youth
Education program. SATF aims to develop media literacy, broaden insights into
other cultures, enhance foreign language aptitude, develop critical thinking
skills and inspire a lifelong appreciation of cinema.

An impromptu chant of
"Kids love movies!" broke out from the young audience at a screening
of the shorts collection Do You See What I See?, bringing this goal to
life. 

Salons and Master
Classes at the Festival

Participating in three Master
Classes, filmmakers and panelists engaged audiences with further discussion of
the ideas presented in their films and related works. French film critic Jean-Michel Frodon
explored the role of the critic in today's cinema; Frank Pierson
discussed the craft of screenwriting and how it has evolved through the years;
and finally, producer Alison
Dickey
and director Azazel
Jacobs
described their working relationship and how they came
together to bring this year's Centerpiece film to the screen. Two Salons
offered the opportunity for film scholars and filmmakers to engage in
discussions with local cinephiles and engage in in-depth conversations beyond
the typical postscreening Q&A. Author Susan Weiner lead Expressions of French Cinema,
and professor Bill Nichols explored The
Social Justice Documentary
. In addition, SFIFF54 offered
industry members a number of professional sessions and networking
opportunities, an extension of the year-round Film Craft & Film Studies
program offered by the San Francisco Film Society.

Award-Winning Films

Eleven films were in juried
competition for the 15th annual $15,000 New Directors Award, given to a first-
time filmmaker whose work exhibits a unique artistic sensibility. The jury,
comprised of Nick James, Daniela Michel and Marie Therese Guirgis, chose
director Park Jung-bumʼs The
Journals of Musan
(South Korea), explaining, "The
unexpected ways that the film fuses the personal with the sociopolitical makes
it truly original, especially its sophisticated use of imagery and point of
view."

The FIPRESCI jury, comprised
of Ulrick Eriksen, Barbara Lorey De Lacharrière and Adam Nayman, chose The Salesman by
Sébastien Pilote (Canada). The jury described it as "a first feature with
a precise sense of character and place, yet which is also provocatively
ambivalent about the value of work in the aftermath of local economic
collapse." 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.

The International awarded
close to $100,000 in total prizes this year with $60,000 to winners in three
categories: investigative documentary feature ($25,000), documentary feature
($20,000) and Bay Area documentary feature ($15,000). The Festivalʼs
Golden Gate Awards were held on Wednesday, May 4 at Temple Nightclub-Prana
Restaurant, with a jury comprised of Dan Krauss, Mike Maggiore and Esther
Robinson. The GGA for Best Investigative Documentary Feature was presented to Crime After Crime
by Yoav Potash (USA). Best Documentary Feature and Best Bay Area Documentary
Feature were both presented to Better
This World
by Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway
(USA).

The short film jury was made
up of Andy Gillet, Max Goldberg and Kim Yutani. They awarded Best Documentary
Short to Into the
Middle of Nowhere
by Anna Frances Ewert (Scotland/England).
The Best Narrative Short was Blokes
by Marialy Rivas (Chile). First place for Best Bay Area Short went to Tourist Trap by
Skye Thorstenson (USA), with second place going to Young Dracula by
Alfred Seccombe (USA). The GGA Youth Work winner was Z-Man by Nat
Talbot (USA), with The
Math Test
by Sam Rubin (USA) receiving Honorable Mention.
The Best Work for Kids and Families was Specky Four Eyes by Jean-Claude Rozec
(France), with Honorable Mention going to The Snowman by Kelly Wilson and
Neil Wrischnik (USA). The Best Animated Short was The External World
by David O'Reilly (Ireland) and Best New Visions was Lost Lake by
Zackary Drucker (USA).

The SFIFF54 Audience Awards
gave filmgoers the opportunity to select their favorite narrative feature and
documentary. The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Denis
Villeneuveʼs Incendies,
with Takashi Miikeʼs 13
Assassins
also scoring well with festivalgoers. The
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Yoav Potashʼs Crime After Crime,
with Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway's Better This World
also tallying high votes from the viewers.

For information visit fest11.sffs.org.

For photos and press
materials visit sffs.org/pressdownloads.

San Francisco Film
Society

Building on a 50-plus-year
legacy of bringing the best in world cinema to the Bay Area, the San Francisco
Film Society is a national leader in exhibition, education and filmmaker
services.

The Film Society presents 300
days of exhibition each year, reaching a total audience of 130,000 people. Its
acclaimed education program introduces international cinema and media literacy
to more than 15,000 teachers and students and presents 120 classes and
workshops annually. Through the filmmaker services program essential creative
and business services, and funding totaling millions of dollars, are provided
to deserving filmmakers of all levels.

The Film Society seeks to
elevate all aspects of film culture, offering a wide range of activities that
engage emotions, inspire action, change perceptions and advance knowledge. A
501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, it is largely donor and member supported.
Patronage and membership provides discounted prices, access to grants and
residencies, private events and a wealth of other benefits.

54th San Francisco
International Film Festival

The 54th San Francisco
International Film Festival runs April 21 - May 5 at the Sundance Kabuki
Cinemas, the Castro Theatre, New People and SFMOMA in San Francisco and the
Pacific Film Archive Theater in Berkeley. Held each spring for 15 days, the
International is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and
innovation in the country's most beautiful city, featuring 15 juried awards,
200 films and live events with upwards of 100 participating filmmakers and
diverse audiences of 75,000+ people.

For more information visit sffs.org.

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