Thursday, May 4


Festival award-winners

The SFIFF announced its awards at an event last night that I didn't attend (I was in Berkeley being hypnotized by staring into Aleksander Sokurov's the Sun), but I've learned the winners elsewhere. As usual, the great majority of the awarded films are among the ones I didn't see. The SKYY Prize for the best first feature was given to Taking Father Home by Ying Liang. The FIPRESCI jury prize went to another first feature, Ryan Fleck's Half Nelson. Among the Golden Gate Award (GGA) winners I failed to fit into my schedule, the Documentary Feature winner was Michael Glawogger's Workingman's Death (pictured), which opens for a week at the Roxie starting tomorrow. Glawogger previously won a GGA in 1999 for Megacities. In a "spread the wealth" maneuver, Sam Green's lot 63 grave 3 won the Documentary Short award and Karina Epperlein's Phoenix Dance won the Bay Area Documentary Short award, as both films were eligible in both categories. (The prize money and Kodak gift certificate is the same for each of the two winners.) The winning Narrative Short was Sebastian Alfie's Love at 4 PM and the Bay Area Non-Documentary Short was Natalija Vekic's Lost & Found. The Award to a Work For Kids and Families went to Sirah, by Cristine Spindler. The Works for Television Awards were previously known and were shown on a pair of festival programs: Seeds of Doubt with Bing Can Sing, and They Chose China with Thornton Dial.

I did see the winner of the GGA Youth Work prize, Karen Lum's Slip of the Tongue (pictured) because it was available in full as part of the International Remix web mash-up project. The clips and remixes are all still up there and anyone can make a new one, though I'm not sure how long that will last after the festival officially ends tonight. This was an innovative and fun way to increase interactivity with some of the festival's short films, plus one that should be considered short only by Lav Diaz standards, the Filipino filmmaker Raya Martin's 90-minute a Short Film About the Indio Nacional. I spent an hour or two making one that relied heavily on Martin's striking black-and-white images, images I found so mysterious and strong that I was compelled to check out the film in full at its first festival screening. It didn't disappoint, and would be a major contender if I had my own personal award for the most audacious film I saw at this year's festival. Perhaps slightly too audacious, Martin's film provoked more walkouts than even the Wayward Cloud, and his extraordinarily long takes and encouragement of extremely unprofessional acting styles tested the limits of even this Apichatpong Weerasethakul fan. I mention Apichatpong because a Short Film About the Indio Nacional reminded me of his films more than any other's, and with encouragement and development I see potential for the young Martin to have a similar career path. By making a film so often reminiscent of silent actualities, he is already engaging directly the film history of his tropical nation where human memory tends to last much longer than film stock.

But I digress. Back to the actual GGA-winning films I did see. There were two others, the Animated Short At the Quinte Hotel (pictured) by Bruce Alcock, and the New Visions awardee site specific_LAS VEGAS 05 by Olivo Barbieri. The latter doesn't quite match up to the two previous year's winners in the New Visions category, Phantom Foreign Vienna and Papillon d'amour, or even to Barbieri's other film in the festival, the non-nominated site specific_SHANGHAI 04 in my mind, but it's certainly a fascinating thing to watch. And At the Quinte Hotel is a nice marriage of poem to image, worthy of attention, and probably the least likely among its fellow nominees to gain a cult following on the internet or a slot in one of Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted festivals.

After the festival closes tonight I hope to post more wrap-ups of some of the programs I did and didn't see, but for now I'll tide you over with Tilda Swinton's State of the Cinema address, which is a wonderful read. And of course the festival will continue to live on in Frisco as Workingman's Death and the Jean-Claude Carrière miniseries at the Pacific Film Archive both start tomorrow.

UPDATE 5/5/06: The Audience Awards were announced last night just after the screening of a Prairie Home Companion and before the wonderful q-and-a session with Virginia Madsen and Lily Tomlin. The winners were, once again, films I missed at the festival: the the narrative film Look Both Ways, and the documentary Encounter Point barely edging out the honorably-mentioned Who Killed the Electric Car? And for some reason I forgot to list among the GGA winners the Bay Area Documentary Feature winner, Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple by Stanley Nelson. Most of these are expected to be released commericially in Frisco theatres at some point (as is Art School Confidential, though not until next weekend, contradictory to what I wrote in the first edition of this post.)

I take it you weren't the guy sitting next to me during "The Sun" who kept murmuring things like "I hate you so much" and "go f**k yourself" to I don't know whom. But even if you were, great SFIFF coverage!
Thanks, and very much likewise. Now that the festival's over I hope to finally be able to sit down and decipher some of the films I couldn't absorb under such cinemaniacal conditions. Like the Wayward Cloud, which you seem to already have a pretty good handle on. I need to read the articles you linked after my headache passes.

And no, it wasn't me next to you at the Sokurov. I don't have the guts to do that kind of thing.
"films I couldn't absorb under such cinemaniacal conditions"! YES! Love that. Ain't it the truth?
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