San Francisco International Film Festival
|Location||San Francisco, California, United States|
San Francisco International Film Festival (abbreviated as SFIFF) is among the longest running film festivals in the Americas. Organized by the San Francisco Film Society, the International is held each spring for two weeks, presenting around 200 films from over 50 countries annually. The Festival highlights current trends in international film and video production with an emphasis on work that has not yet secured U.S. distribution. Since its inception, the International has grown to serve over 70,000 patrons, with screenings held in San Francisco and Berkeley.
In March 2014, Noah Cowan, former executive director of the Toronto International Film Festival, became executive director of the SFFS and SFIFF, replacing Ted Hope. Prior to Hope, the festival was briefly headed by Bingham Ray, who served as SFFS executive director until his death after only ten weeks on the job in January 2012. Graham Leggat became the executive director of the San Francisco Film Society on October 17, 2005. The Scottish-born Leggat died on August 25, 2011 from cancer, aged 51.
The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival will take place April 21 to May 5, 2016 at venues throughout the Bay Area.
Founded in 1957 by film exhibitor Irving "Bud" Levin, the SFIFF began as a philanthropic effort to secure San Francisco's place in the international arts scene as well as expose locals to cinema as an art form. The Festival played a major role in introducing foreign films to American audiences. Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood and Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali were among the films that screened at the first festival.
One obstacle in the early years was the lack of support from the major Hollywood studios, suggested reasons being the growing threat of international films' appeal and a fear that the festival would draw commercial attention away from the Oscars. It wasn't until 1959 that a major American film, Henry King's Beloved Infidel, starring Gregory Peck and Deborah Kerr, played at SFIFF.
Honors and Tributes
Irving M. Levin Directing Award
The Festival's directing award is given each year to one of the masters of world cinema, in memory of SFIFF's founder, Irving Levin. From 2003–2014, the award was known as the Founder's Directing Award. Prior to 2003, the award was known as the Akira Kurosawa Award. Recipients include:
- 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
- Werner Herzog, 2006
- Taylor Hackford, 2005
- Miloš Forman, 2004
- Robert Altman, 2003
- Warren Beatty, 2002
- Clint Eastwood, 2001
- Abbas Kiarostami, 2000
- Arturo Ripstein, 1999
- Im Kwon-taek, 1998
- Francesco Rosi, 1997
- Arthur Penn, 1996
- Stanley Donen, 1995
- Manoel de Oliveira, 1994
- Ousmane Sembène, 1993
- Satyajit Ray, 1992
- Marcel Carné, 1991
- Jirí Menzel, 1990
- Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1989
- Robert Bresson, 1988
- Michael Powell, 1987
- Akira Kurosawa, 1986
Peter J. Owens Award
Named for the longtime San Francisco benefactor of arts and charitable organizations Peter J. Owens (1936–91), this award honors an actor whose work exemplifies brilliance, independence and integrity. Recent recipients include:
- Richard Gere, 2015
- Jeremy Irons, 2014
- Harrison Ford, 2013
- Judy Davis, 2012
- Terence Stamp, 2011
- Robert Duvall, 2010
- Robert Redford, 2009
- Maria Bello, 2008
- Robin Williams, 2007
- Ed Harris, 2006
- Joan Allen, 2005
- Chris Cooper, 2004
- Dustin Hoffman, 2003
- Kevin Spacey, 2002
- Stockard Channing, 2001
- Winona Ryder, 2000
- Sean Penn, 1999
- Nicolas Cage, 1998
- Annette Bening, 1997
- Harvey Keitel, 1996
- Paul Schrader, 2015
- Stephen Gaghan, 2014
- Eric Roth, 2013
- David Webb Peoples, 2012
- Frank Pierson, 2011
- James Schamus, 2010
- James Toback, 2009
- Peter Morgan, 2008
- Robert Towne, 2007
- Jean-Claude Carrière, 2006
- Paul Haggis, 2005
Mel Novikoff Award
Named in honor of legendary San Francisco film exhibitor Mel Novikoff (1922–87), this award is given to an individual or organization notable for making significant contributions to the Bay Area's richly diverse film community. Recent recipients include:
- Lenny Borger, 2015
- David Thomson, 2014
- Peter von Bagh, 2013
- Pierre Rissient, 2012
- Serge Bromberg, 2011
- Roger Ebert, 2010
- Bruce Goldstein, 2009
- James Lewis Hoberman, 2008
- Kevin Brownlow, 2007
- Anita Monga, 2005
- Paolo Cherchi Usai, 2004
- Manny Farber, 2003
Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award
- Kim Longinotto, 2015
- Isaac Julien, 2014
- Jem Cohen, 2013
- Barbara Kopple, 2012
- Matthew Barney, 2011
- Don Hertzfeldt, 2010
- Lourdes Portillo, 2009
- Errol Morris, 2008
- Heddy Honigmann, 2007
- Guy Maddin, 2006
- Adam Curtis, 2005
- Jon Else, 2004
- Pat O'Neill, 2003
- Fernando Birri, 2002
- Kenneth Anger, 2001
- Faith Hubley, 2000
- Johan van der Keuken, 1999
- Robert Frank, 1998
- Jan Švankmajer, 1997
George Gund III Craft of Cinema Award
The George Gund III Craft of Cinema Award, given in tribute to the longstanding Film Society chairman of the board who died in 2013, honors a worthy member of the filmmaking community for outstanding and unique contributions to the art of cinema. Recent recipients include:
The Film Festival's Midnight Awards were given from 2007–2011 to honor a dynamic young American actor and actress who have made outstanding contributions to independent and Hollywood cinema, and who bring striking intelligence, talent and depth of character to their roles. Recent recipients include:
- Clifton Collins, Jr. and Zoe Saldana, 2011
- Evan Rachel Wood and Elijah Wood, 2009
- Rose McGowan and Jason Lee, 2008
- Rosario Dawson and Sam Rockwell, 2007
Awards and Prizes
New Directors Award
This $15,000 cash award supports innovative thinking by independent filmmakers and shines the spotlight on an emerging director. Films in this juried competition must be the director's first narrative feature and are selected for their unique artistic sensibility or vision.
Golden Gate Awards
The Golden Gate Awards is the competitive section for documentaries, animation, shorts, experimental film and video, youth works and works for television. Eligibility requires that entries have a San Francisco Bay Area premiere and be exempt from a previous multiday commercial theatrical run or media broadcast of any kind. The festival currently awards cash prizes in the following categores:
- Documentary Feature - prize: $20,000
- Bay Area Documentary Feature - prize: $15,000
- Documentary Short - prize: $5,000
- Narrative Short - prize: $5,000
- Animated Short - prize: $2,000
- Bay Area Short, First Prize - prize: $2,000
- Bay Area Short, Second Prize - prize: $1,500
- New Visions Short - prize: $1,500
- Youth Work - prize: $1,500
- Family Film - prize: $1,500
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes the San Francisco International Film Festival as a qualifying festival for the short films (live action and animated) competitions of the 81st annual Academy Awards.
Selected by the International Federation of Film Critics, the FIPRESCI Prize aims to promote film art, to encourage new and young cinema and to help films get better distribution and win greater public attention.
State of Cinema Address
Each year, the festival invites a prominent thinker to discuss the intersecting worlds of contemporary cinema, culture and society. Recent speakers include:
- Steven Soderbergh, 2013
- Jonathan Lethem, 2012
- Christine Vachon, 2011
- Walter Murch, 2010
- Mary Ellen Mark, 2009
- Kevin Kelly, 2008
- Peter Sellars, 2007
- Tilda Swinton, 2006
- Brad Bird, 2005
- B. Ruby Rich, 2004
- Michel Ciment, 2003
Live Music & Film
The San Francisco International Film Festival is known for its innovative live music and film events, which usually feature contemporary musicians performing original scores to classic silent films. Many of the scores were commissioned by the San Francisco Film Society as world premieres. Music/film pairings at SFIFF have included:
- Scott Amendola, Matthias Bossi, Mike Patton, and William Winant accompanying Waxworks (1924 Film), Directed Paul Leni, 2013
- Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs) with Buster Keaton short films, 2012
- Tindersticks with the films of Claire Denis, 2011
- Stephin Merritt with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916 film), 2010
- Dengue Fever (band) with The Lost World (1925 film), 2009
- Black Francis with The Golem (1915 film), 2008
- Jonathan Richman with The Phantom Carriage, 2007
- Deerhoof with Heaven and Earth Magic, 2006
- American Music Club with Street Angel (1928 film), 2005
- Lambchop (band) with Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, 2003
- Superchunk with A Page of Madness, 2002
- Yo La Tengo with Jean Painlevé short films, 2001
- Tom Verlaine with classic silent short films, 2000
- "San Francisco Film Festival Bucks Economic Trends to Set New Records for Revenue and Attendance." sffs.org. 7 May 2009. San Francisco Film Society. 29 June 2009 http://www.sffs.org/content.aspx?catid=22,37&pageid=1077
- Article about hiring of Ted Hope
- Notice of death of Bingham Ray
- Notice of death of Graham Leggat
- SFFS Staff page
- Amazonas, Lee. "The Festival that Wouldn't Die." history.sffs.org. 31 July 2009 http://history.sffs.org/our_history/the_festival.php.
- Knickerbocker, Paine. "After Triumphs and Minor Disasters, the 20th Anniversary." San Francisco Chronicle. 1977. history.sffs.org. 31 July 2009 http://history.sffs.org/our_history/1977_20th.php.
- Fardooq, Sajid. "The Godfather Takes Center Stage at SF Film Fest." nbcbayarea.com. 1 April 2009. 24 July 2009 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/around_town/nightlife/The-Godfather-Takes-Center-Stage-at-SF-Film-Fest.html.
- "Guillermo del Toro to Be Honored by San Francisco Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- SFIFF press release sffs.org
- Awards 54th SFIFF fest11.sffs.org
- Awards 53rd SFIFF fest10.sffs.org
- Brooks, Brian. "Redford to Receive San Francisco Film Festival Honors." indiewire.com. 10 March 2009. 24 July 2009 http://www.indiewire.com/article/redford_to_receive_san_francisco_film_festival_honors/.
- "San Francisco Film Festival to Honor Richard Gere". Variety. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- Bigelow, Catherine. "Big Screen: SF Film Society Awards Gala." 7x7.com. 5 May 2009. 24 July http://www.7x7.com/blogs/bigelow-report/big-screen-sf-film-society-awards-gala.
- "Paul Schrader Gets San Francisco Film Fest Award and Tribute (Exclusive)". Thompson on Hollywood. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- Pine, Dan. "S.F. film fest honors famed Jewish film restorer." jweekly.com. 30 April 2009. 24 July 2009 http://www.jweekly.com/includes/print/37950/article/s.f.-%EF%AC%81lm-fest.
- "San Francisco Film Society to Present Mel Novikoff Award to Lenny Borger at 58th San Francisco International Film Festival". San Francisco Film Society. 2015-03-31. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- Guillen, Michael. "SFiFF52: Al Mas Alla-On-Stage Conversation With Lourdes Portillo & John Anderson." 28 April 2009. 24 July 2009 http://theeveningclass.blogspot.com/search?q=lourdes.
- "San Francisco Film Society to Honor Kim Longinotto with Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award at 58th San Francisco International Film Festival". San Francisco Film Society. 2015-03-31. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- "57th San Francisco International Film Festival to Honor Isaac Julien with Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award". San Francisco Film Society. 2014-04-01. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- "San Francisco Film Society will Present 2015 George Gund III Craft of Cinema Award to Maurice Kanbar at 58th San Francisco International Film Festival". San Francisco Film Society. 2015-03-31. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- "57th San Francisco International Film Festival will Present 2014 George Gund III Craft of Cinema Award to John Lasseter". San Francisco Film Society. 2014-04-01. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- "56th San Francisco International Film Festival will Present Inaugural George Gund III Award to Ray Dolby". San Francisco Film Society. 2013-03-26. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- "Midnight Awards for Evan and Elijah." entertainment.uk.msn.com. 25 March 2009. 24 July 2009 http://entertainment.uk.msn.com/celebrity/news/Article.aspx?cp-documentid=15371546.
- Hawley, Michael. "SFIFF52--Michael Hawley Anticipates Line-up." twitchfilm.net. 24 July 2009 http://twitchfilm.net/site/view/sfiff52michael-hawley-anticipates-the-line-up/.
- SFIFF press release sffs.org
- "Short Films Awards Festivals List." oscars.org. 24 July 2009. http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/rules/shortsfestivals.html.
- Eder, Klaus. "The Purpose of FIPRESCI Is to Support Cinema as Art." fest09.sffs.org. 24 July 2009 http://fest09.sffs.org/awards/fipresci_09.php
- San Francisco Film Society website
- SFIFF Website
- SFIFF Information
- SFIFF First to Fifty History Site
- A Music Nerd's Guide To The San Francisco International Film Festival