SFIFF59 Feature: Golden Gate Awards

by Chad Liffmann on May 5, 2016

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Last night at Gray Area, the newly remodeled Grand theater, the Golden Gate Award winners of the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival were announced. With tacos and chardonnay in our stomachs, and smiles being exchanged between filmmakers, Film Society members, SFIFF59 staff members, and press members alike, we took time to honor all the films at this year’s festival.

Here are the winning films in the 12 categories announced at the GGA celebration (~$40,000 in prize money):

Golden Gate New Directors (Narrative Feature) Prize:
Winner: The Demons, Philippe Lesage (Canada)
Jury note: “The Demons is an extraordinarily perceptive and structurally daring exploration of childhood in all its terrors and anxieties, both real and imagined.”

Special Jury Prize: Mountain, Yaelle Kayam (Israel/Denmark)
Jury note: “The film provides a rigorous and multifaceted character study that becomes a bold statement about the role of women in physical and psychological confinement.”

Golden Gate Awards for Documentary Features:
Documentary Feature Winner: Cameraperson, Kirsten Johnson (USA)
Jury note: “We honor Cameraperson for its compassion and curiosity; for its almost tangible connection to subjects and humble acknowledgement of its own subjectivity; for its singular enfolding of memoir, essay and collage; for its perfect expression of the vital collaboration between director and editor; and for its disarming invitation for us to participate in the meaning and construction of the work, and by extension the meaning and construction of documentary cinema itself.”

Special Jury Prize: Notes on Blindness, Peter Middleton, James Spinney (UK/France)
Jury note: “We extend a special mention to Notes on Blindness, in recognition of an audaciously ambitious, formally inventive and yet fully realized film that somehow manages to translate an intensely interior experience into compelling, even revelatory cinema, ingeniously articulating what it means to see and be seen.”

Bay Area Documentary Winner: The Return, Kelly Duane de la Vega, Katie Galloway (USA)
Jury note: “We are honoring a film that starts where others would stop, that addresses the inhumanity of America’s criminal justice system through patient and humane observation, handling the complexities of its subjects not as matters to work around, but to embrace as a pathway to deeper feeling and understanding.”

Golden Gate Awards for Short Films:
Narrative Short Winner: Night Without Distance, Lois Patino (Portugal/Spain)
Documentary Short Winner: The Send-Off, Patrick Bresnan, Ivete Lucas (USA)
Animated Short Winner: Manoman, Simon Cartwright (UK)
Special Jury Prize: Glove, 
Alexa Lim Haas, Bernardo Britto (USA)
New Visions Short Winner: My Aleppo, Melissa Langer (USA)
Bay Area Short First Prize Winner: Extremis, Dan Krauss (USA)
Bay Area Short Second Prize Winner: In Attla’s Tracks, Catharine Axley (USA)

Jury note: “These well-wrought miniatures connected us to the world and our own humanity in urgent and unexpected ways. We were impressed by the 29 storytellers in competition, and we thank them for sharing their visions with San Francisco audiences. We look forward to seeing what they do next.”

Golden Gate Award for Family Film:
Winner: Bunny New Girl, Natalie van den Dungen (Australia)
Jury note: “Bunny New Girl was recognized for its great, relatable message of acceptance and solidarity in a new community—as well as technical achievement, strong talent direction, and able storytelling that builds to a powerful and entertaining ending.”

Special Jury Prize: Simon’s Cat: Off to the Vet, Simon Tofield (UK)
Jury note: “We recognize this film for its pure entertainment value, great observational comedy, laugh-out loud jokes, and clear cat knowledge.”

Golden Gate Award for Youth Work:
Winner: Elliot, Dennis Kim (South Korea/USA)
Jury note: “In another filmmaker’s hands, the story may have been an old hat. But in this filmmaker’s craft, what emerges is a meticulously crafted, well thought-out narrative that is engaging and beautiful to look at.”

Special Jury Prize: Lucky Numbers, Chester Milton (USA)
Jury note: “Lucky Numbers is a crowd pleasing black comedy that managed to balance humor and morbidity perfectly.”

Google Breakthrough in Technology Award:
Winner: From My Head to Hers, Maria Alvarez (USA)



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