SFFILM Awards Night: Ryan Coogler, Sarah Polley, and Margot Robbie. The highly anticipated event honors exemplary achievement in film craft and is a fundraiser with proceeds from the event supporting the organization’s mission to discover, nurture, and showcase the next generation of film artists. This year’s edition of the dinner and awards presentation event is firmly established in the fall industry and social calendars and will take place on Monday, December 5, 2022 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
“Each of these phenomenal artists brings the highest levels of skill to their latest work, creating the year’s most indelible films. This evening of celebration not only honors their unique contributions, but also fuels our ability to achieve our year-round initiatives nurturing filmmakers, supporting students, and bringing audiences together through the transformative power of cinematic storytelling,” said SFFILM’s Executive Director, Anne Lai. “The impact of Awards Night is felt in every corner of our mission, and we’re grateful for that.”
“2022 is the year SFFILM joyfully welcomed audiences and filmmakers back into theaters. From our Festival in the spring to Doc Stories in the fall, Bay Area audiences joined us in droves to experience movie-going as a collective and affirming experience. Awards Night caps off a successful year featuring the creativity and fearlessness of films and filmmakers from around the world,” said Jessie Fairbanks, SFFILM’s Director of Programming.
Irving M. Levin Award for Film Direction: Ryan Coogler
The Irving M. Levin Award for Film Direction is presented each year to one of the masters of world cinema and is given in memory the founder of the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1957. Past recipients include Jane Campion (2021), Chloé Zhao (2020), Marielle Heller (2019), Steve MᶜQueen (2018), Kathryn Bigelow (2017), Mira Nair (2016), 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), and Werner Herzog (2006), among others.
Ryan Coogler is a writer, director and producer known for his inaugural feature film Fruitvale Station, which won the top audience and grand jury awards in the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He has since co-written and directed the seventh film in the Rocky series, Creed, was the executive producer for Creed II, and has returned to produce Creed III, each starring Michael B. Jordan. He also co-wrote and directed Marvel’s critically acclaimed Black Panther, which became the most successful domestic release of 2018. Black Panther, starring the late Chadwick Boseman, is the first and only Marvel film to have ever been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Most recently, Coogler has completed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which opened in November 2022.
The Irving M. Levin Award for Film Direction will be presented to Ryan Coogler by actor and playwright Danai Gurira.
SFFILM Award for Storytelling: Sarah Polley
The SFFILM Award for Storytelling acknowledges the critical importance that storytelling plays in the creation of outstanding films and is presented annually to a filmmaker whose work exemplifies brilliance, ambition, independence, and integrity. Past recipients include Maggie Gyllenhaal (2021), Aaron Sorkin (2020), Lulu Wang (2019), Boots Riley (2018), Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani (2017), Tom McCarthy (2016), Paul Schrader (2015), Stephen Gaghan (2014), Eric Roth (2013), David Webb Peoples (2012), Frank Pierson (2011), and James Schamus (2010), among others.
Sarah Polley received an Oscar® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for her first film as director Away From Her, based on the short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain by Alice Munro. This film also garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for star Julie Christie. Her next film, Take This Waltz, starred Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and Sarah Silverman. Stories We Tell, her documentary that examines secrets and memory in her own family, won Best Documentary Film awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, National Board of Review, and the New York Film Critics Circle, as well as a Writer’s Guild of America award for its screenplay. Polley executive produced and wrote the Netflix limited seriesAlias Grace, which she adapted from Margaret Atwood’s novel. Her most current project is Women Talking, a feature film she wrote and directed starring Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Ben Whishaw, and Frances McDormand and will be released in December 2022.
As an actor, Polley starred in a wide variety of films, including Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter (Best Supporting Actress award from the Boston Society of Film Critics), Doug Liman’s Go (Independent Spirit Award nomination), Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, Jaco Van Dormael’s Mr. Nobody opposite Jared Leto, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Weight of Water opposite Ciaran Hinds, David Cronenberg’s Existenz, Isabel Coixet’s The Secret Life of Words and My Life Without Me (Canadian Screen Award, Best Actress), Audrey Wells’ Guinevere, Wim Wenders’ Don’t Come Knocking, Michael Winterbottom’s The Claim, and Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
The SFFILM Award for Storytelling will be presented to Sarah Polley by writer, editor, and publisher Dave Eggers.
Maria Manetti Shrem Award for Acting: Margot Robbie
The newly named Maria Manetti Shrem Award for Acting has been awarded since 1996 and honors a performer whose work in film exemplifies brilliance, independence, and integrity. Past recipients include Glenn Close, Adam Driver, Amy Adams, Kate Winslet, Ellen Burstyn, Richard Gere, Jeremy Irons, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford, Judy Davis, Terence Stamp, Robert Duvall, and Robin Williams, among others.
Damien Chazelle’s Babylon is set in 1920’s Los Angeles led by Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Diego Calva, with an ensemble cast including Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, and Jean Smart. A tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess, it traces the rise and fall of multiple characters during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity in early Hollywood. Paramount will release Babylon nationwide December 23rd.
Robbie most recently wrapped production on Barbie as the titular role for Mattel and Warner Bros., alongside Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Will Ferrell, and Kate McKinnon, to name a few. Robbie is producing the film under her LuckyChap Entertainment banner. Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach are co-writing the screenplay. WB will release the film on July 21, 2023.
The Maria Manetti Shrem Award for Acting will be presented to Margot Robbie by Academy Award-winning director Damien Chazelle.
The SFFILM Awards Night host committee includes Courtney Benoist & Jason Fish, Heidi W. Castelein, Lisa Kleiner Chanoff & Matt Chanoff, Katie Hall & Tom Knutsen, Fred M. Levin, Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman, Elizabeth McGuire & Paul Haigney, Leslie & Scott Olrich, Krutika & Raj Patel, Robina Riccitiello, Celine & Dan Parreñas Shimizu, Jan Shrem & Maria Manetti Shrem, Alexandra & Spencer Wells.
The event will take place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Opened to the public in 1993, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) was founded as the cultural anchor of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens neighborhood. Their focus is contemporary art, performance, film, civic engagement, and public life. Centering artists as an essential part of the social and cultural movement, YBCA is reimagining the role an arts institution can play in the community it serves.