San Francisco Film Society

This evening the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, presented by the San Francisco Film Society, announced the juried Golden Gate Award winners, New Directors Prize winner and FIPRESCI Prize winner at a ceremony held at Rouge | Nick's Crispy Tacos. This year the Festival awarded over $70,000 in prizes -- one of the largest cash totals distributed by a U.S. film festival -- to emerging and established filmmakers from ten countries around the globe. For more than 50 years, SFIFF's Golden Gate Awards have honored deserving films independent of commercial concerns, heralding unsung excellence and exposing local and international audiences to unique and innovative works. For more information about competition categories and juries, visit

The Golden Gate Award Documentary feature competition jury was composed of producer/director Bonni Cohen, cultural commentator David D'Arcy, and essayist Lisa Schwarzbaum.

Golden Gate Award Documentary Feature Winners
Documentary Feature: A River Changes Course, Kalyanee Mam (Cambodia/USA 2012)
  *  Winner receives $20,000 cash prize

The jury noted in a statement: "This film stood out as an entity in terms of subject matter, beauty of filmmaking, elegance of expression, sensitivity, and representation of the people observed as they observe their own situation. Of particular note was the relationship between nature and the people inhabiting it. The larger story told, about civilization and progress, are particularly poignant given that the viewer only experiences it from the characters' experiences. Lastly, this film is a cinematic feat -- it drives forward with narrative and cinematic conviction."

Bay Area Documentary Feature: The Kill Team, Dan Krauss (USA 2012)
  *  Winner receives $15,000 cash prize

The jury noted: "We chose this film due to the importance of its subject matter and its moral complexity. At the film's core is a story of a father and son who both felt they couldn't do enough. This is the essence of the toll that war takes on our American families. The filmmaker was able to show the kind of war that is really being fought on the ground in Afghanistan and the war at home in a way we haven't seen before. This is something we all need to face. The Kill Team personalized war in a poignant and dramatic way, and Mr. Krauss showed great perception about what was important, how to convey something with economy and how to do so cinematically."

The New Directors Prize jury was composed of critic Betsy Sharkey, filmmaker Alicia Scherson and editor Charles Mudede.

New Directors Prize: Present Tense, Belmin Sölyemez (Turkey  2012)
  *  Winner receives $15,000 cash prize
Honorable Mention: La Sirga, William Vega (Colombia/France/Mexico 2012), The Cleaner, Adrián Saba (Peru 2012)

In a statement, the jury noted: "Because of its intelligence, sensitivity, humor, honesty, humanism, great performances, and its refusal to supply easy answers or neat solutions to the tough questions that confront a structure of feeling shaped by the powerful and also alienating forces of global capitalism, urban redevelopment, and consumerist marketing, we picked Belmin Söylemez's Present Tense as the best film of the New Directors category. Her win is made more meaningful by the fact that a huge number of films in this category were impressive. Indeed, two, La Sirga by William Vega and The Cleaner by Adrián Saba, were so remarkable that we felt they deserved honorable mention. Again, congratulations to Ms. Söylemez for making a film that has a great sense of humor, great lead actor, and a conclusion that leaves us with more rather than less."

The FIPRESCI jury was Brazilian critic Mario Abbade, Austrialian critic Glenn Dunks and New York-based critic V. A. Musetto.

FIPRESCI Prize: Nights with Theodore, Sébastian Betbeder (France 2012)
The Golden Gate Award Short Film jury consisted of filmmakers Cheryl Dunye, Amanda Micheli and Malcolm Pullinger.

Golden Gate Award Short Film Winners
Narrative Short: Ellen Is Leaving, Michelle Savill (New Zealand 2012)
  *  Winner receives $5,000 cash prize

Documentary Short: Kings Point, Sari Gilman (USA 2012)
  *  Winner receives $5,000 cash prize
Special Jury Prize: Home, Thomas Gleeson (New Zealand 2012)

Animated Short: Kali the Little Vampire, Regina Pessoa (Canada/France 2012)
  *  Winner receives $2,000 cash prize

Bay Area Short, First Prize: 3020 Laguna St. In Exitum, Ashley Rodholm, Joe Picard (USA 2013)
  *  Winner receives $2,000 cash prize

Bay Area Short, Second Prize: More Real, Jonn Herschend (USA 2012)
  *  Winner receives $1,500 cash prize

New Visions: Salmon, Alfredo Covelli (Israel/Italy 2012)
  *  Winner receives $1,500 cash prize

The Family Film jury was family media specialist Betsy Bozdech, teacher Steven Kirk and mother Lisa Scandrette.

Family Film: Luminaris, Juan Pablo Zaramella (Argentina 2012)
  *  Winner receives $1,500 cash prize

Family Film Honorable Mention: I'm Going to Mum's, Lauren Jackson (New Zealand 2012), Jonah and the Crab, Laurel Cohen (USA 2012)

The Youth Works jury was San Francisco-based filmmaker and teacher Kiazad Ehya and students Kristen Fang, Chanel Peng and Sebastian Rodriguez.

Youth Work: The Dogmatic, Lance Oppenheim (USA 2012)
  *  Winner receives $1,500 cash prize
Youth Work Honorable Mention: Last Stop Livermore, Nat Talbot (USA 2012)

For tickets and information visit
For film stills, go here.
For photos from the Golden Gate Awards event, go here (starting noon 5/9).
For other photos and press materials visit