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San Francisco (April 22 - May 6) SFIFF 53 New Directors Competition Films

The 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival (April 22 - May 6) will award close to $100,000 in total prizes this year. The New Directors Prize of $15,000 is given to a narrative first feature that exhibits a unique artistic sensibility and deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. An independent jury will select the New Directors Prize winner, to be announced at the Golden Gate Awards Wednesday, May 5.


Alamar, directed by Pedro González-Rubio, Mexico 2009
West Coast Premiere
The Mexican Caribbean's stunning Banco Chinchorro, home to the world's second largest coral reef, provides the setting and inspiration for this effortlessly beautiful story of a Mayan father and son as they spend a summer working (and playing) along the coast.
 
Animal Heart, directed by Séverine Cornamusaz, France/Switzerland 2009
U.S. Premiere
This potent first feature, set on a small two-person dairy farm deep in the Swiss Alps, is a courageously clear-eyed and forgiving look at the wildly dysfunctional marriage of a brutish dairy farmer and his beleaguered wife.
 
A Brand New Life, directed by Ounie Lecomte, South Korea/France 2009
Drawing on her childhood memories, director Lecomte creates an intimate portrait of an emotionally bereft nine-year-old and her irrepressible cohort at a South Korean Catholic orphanage.
 
The Day God Walked Away, directed by Philippe van Leeuw, France 2009
U.S. Premiere
The atrocities of the Rwandan genocide are explored through the experiences of one woman in this debut feature by cinematographer Philippe van Leeuw.
 
The Famous and the Dead, directed by Esmir Filho, Brazil/France 2009
U.S. Premiere
A 16-year-old Bob Dylan fan becomes obsessed by the images and murky fate of a girl in his town, his fascination growing with the appearance of her charismatic, sinister boyfriend.
 
Night Catches Us, directed by Tanya Hamilton, USA 2009
In the summer of '76, a former Black Panther returns to his working-class Philadelphia neighborhood where he is not exactly welcomed back with open arms. His best friend's widow and her daughter are the only ones who appreciate his predicament in this potent drama.
 
Northless, directed by Rigoberto Perezcano, Mexico/Spain 2009
The melancholy misadventures of a quiet young man who tries again and again to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. take the form of visual poetry in this beguiling, deceptively quiet feature debut.
 
La Pivellina, directed by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, Austria/Italy 2009
A middle-aged circus performer, living with her husband in a trailer park on the outskirts of Rome, takes in an abandoned toddler and a surrogate family slowly forms in this brilliant neorealist portrait of itinerant but deeply interwoven lives.
 
Shirley Adams, directed by Oliver Hermanus, South Africa/USA 2009
In this unflinching drama, a determined mother tries to look after her teenaged son who has been left paralyzed from the waist down by a stray bullet.
 
Susa, directed by Rusudan Pirveli, Georgia 2010
North American Premiere
Twelve year-old Susa, living in a dreary suburb of a Georgian city, tours back streets delivering orders from an illegal vodka dispensary and waits for his father's return from the big city.
 
Tehroun, directed by Nader Takmil Homayoun, France/Iran 2009
A beggar rents a baby from local mobsters to ply his trade. When a prostitute steals the child he must delve into Tehran's underbelly to find her and retrieve the baby.
 
You Think You're the Prettiest, but You Are the Sluttiest, directed by Ché Sandoval, Chile 2009
North American Premiere
Horny twentysomething boy-men cruise around the suburbs of Santiago trying to get laid, but instead discover the meaning of life, sort of, in Chilean writer/director Ché Sandoval's mock epic.
 
In addition to these 12 films in competition, the New Directors section of SFIFF53 includes 15 out-of-competition films, which will be announced at the Festival's press conference Tuesday, March 30.

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