SFIFF Final Spotlight: Golden Gate Awards

by Chad Liffmann on May 9, 2013

SFIFF Golden Gate Awards Gala at Rouge

SFIFF Golden Gate Awards Gala at Rouge

It’s nine o’clock at night and inside the velvet-lined nightclub Rouge, amidst the smells of savory tacos and steamy quesadillas (compliments of Nick’s Crispy Tacos), the tireless SFIFF staff welcomes in the crowd of filmmakers, critics, and film enthusiasts.  They all exchange smiles and pleasantries, speak of their favorite festival films and entreat each other to stories of their experience in the city by the bay.  Mika Mattila, the Finnish director of Chimeras, informs me of his plan to rent a car and explore the beautiful deserts and mountains just hours outside the city.  The shmoozing continues; sipping wine, dipping chips into thick chunks of guacamole, and trading tales…briefly pausing for ten minutes as a few honors are bestowed.

On Wednesday night, roughly 200 guests were present for the Golden Gate Awards.  It was a joyous occassion unaffected by the inevitable recognition of a select few films deemed worthy of prizes.  As Rachel Rosen, the SFIFF Director of Programming, mentioned upon introducing the awards ceremony (and I’m paraphrasing), “this is not a competition.”  So very true.  This city prides itself on its comradery, its progressive attitude, and its artistic sensibilities. With such an amazing crop of new talent and incredible films on display, nobody at the 56th SFIFF need fight each other for cinematic supremacy.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  The mood was one of mutual appreciation as the winners took the podium.  The ceremony was short, and after the last prize was presented, business was done, and play commenced.  Ted Hope, Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS), shook my hand, let out a long well-earned sigh, and exclaimed, “time to go home.”  But the night went on, the toasting and laughter continuing late into the night…

Todd Traina, a member of the SFFS Board of Directors and Executive Producer of the festival’s opening night movie, What Maisie Knew, beamed with pride as he maneuvered from filmmaker to filmmaker, critic to critic, staff member to staff member, thanking and celebrating the festival’s lasting abundance of energy.  He nicely summed up his experience and the excitement surrounding the 56th time this city has turned down the house lights so filmmakers could showcase their work:

“I am thrilled that I am now a part of a community which fosters and supports filmmakers of all ages, in all stages of production.  I was nervous about moving back home here from LA because productions in SF were usually either tiny or huge so I wasn’t sure if I would find the right niche as a Producer, but I think we are now going to see a greater variety of projects here.  We are blessed to have the original “Fog City Mavericks” here, who put San Francisco on the map as an artistic powerhouse.  And now, through the SFFS Grants and the comprehensive programs offered, we might just be able to cultivate a new breed of Mavericks – or at the very least some Mavens!”

Golden Gate Award winners Kalyanee Mam and Dan Krauss

Golden Gate Award winners Kalyanee Mam and Dan Krauss

Charles Mudede, Golden Gate Award winner Belmin Solyemez and Alicia Scherson

Charles Mudede, Golden Gate Award winner Belmin Solyemez and Alicia Scherson


Complete list of winners:

Documentary Feature:
A River Changes Course, Kalyanee Mam (Cambodia/USA 2012)
Bay Area Documentary Feature:
The Kill Team, Dan Krauss (USA 2012)
New Directors Prize:
Present Tense, Belmin Sölyemez (Turkey 2012)
[Honorable Mentions: La Sirga (Colombia/France/Mexico 2012) and The Cleaner (Peru 2012)]
Nights with Theodore, Sébastian Betbeder (France 2012)
Narrative Short:
Ellen Is Leaving, Michelle Savill (New Zealand 2012)
Documentary Short:
Kings Point, Sari Gilman (USA 2012)
Special Jury Prize:
Home, Thomas Gleeson (New Zealand 2012)
Animated Short:
Kali the Little Vampire, Regina Pessoa (Canada/France 2012)
Bay Area Short, First Prize:
3020 Laguna St. In Exitum, Ashley Rodholm, Joe Picard (USA 2013)
Bay Area Short, Second Prize:
More Real, Jonn Herschend (USA 2012)
New Visions:
Salmon, Alfredo Covelli (Israel/Italy 2012)
Family Film:
Luminaris, Juan Pablo Zaramella (Argentina 2012)
[Honorable Mentions: I’m Going to Mum’s, Lauren Jackson (New Zealand 2012) and Jonah and the Crab, Laurel Cohen (USA 2012)]
Youth Work:
The Dogmatic, Lance Oppenheim (USA 2012)
[Honorable Mention: Last Stop Livermore, Nat Talbot (USA 2012)]

For the complete list of nominated films, visit http://festival.sffs.org/awards/golden-gate-awards/

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