Thursday, May 8, 2008

51st SFIFF Awards Announced

I didn't make it to the SFIFF awards night last night. As usual there was a film that took priority. This year it was Eric Rohmer's delightful, bucolic the Romance of Astrea and Celadon, very much a product of its director despite its fifth-century setting. Rohmer's Catholic worldview comes through in the oddest of places- I never supposed I'd ever see a film with a monotheistic druid in it.

Susan Gerhard has wrapped up the award-winners nicely though. Glad to see Ballast awarded the FIPRESCI critics' prize; I interviewed director Lance Hammer yesterday afternoon, and his film deserves all the attention it can get. I also liked that Aditya Assarat was mentioned by the New Directors Competition jury for Wonderful Town- by no means a masterpiece but a very promising first feature with a strong sense of place.

Though I didn't see all of the films they were up against in their Golden Gate Award categories, I can also heartily applaud Madame Tutli-Putli's capturing of the Animated Short prize, and Writing History With Lightning: the Triumph and Tragedy of America's First Blockbuster in the Youth Works category. The latter film is, as its title implies, a 10-minute historical documentary on the social impact of D.W. Griffith's a Birth of a Nation. I wonder if its director Charlotte Burger might have a future as a Kevin-Brownlow-in-the-making?

I did see all of the films vying for the New Visions Golden Gate Award, and though I was pulling for the formalistic brilliance of Jeanne Liotta's Observando El Cielo or Leighton Pierce's Number One or Thorsten Fleisch's Energy!, I see the jury preferred to award the work which had the most visible human presence on the camera (and not just behind it), Tod Herman's Cabinet. Cabinet also won the Golden Gate Award for Bay Area-made short, with Adam Kekar's paranoia-inducing On the Assassination of the President in second place.

Audience Awards are usually announced at the closing night screening at the Castro. Which I'll also be missing- Bela Tarr's the Man From London takes priority in this instance!

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