The juried awards recognize narrative and documentary films, and works from the Cine Latino and Youth Works spotlights. Winners of the Audience Awards were also announced.
The SFFILM Festival ran April 13–23 in theaters across the Bay Area, and featured local and international filmmakers and works.
San Francisco, CA – April 24, 2023 – This morning, SFFILM announced the winners of the juried Golden Gate Awards competition at the 66th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM Festival). Created the same year the Festival was founded in 1957, the prestigious Golden Gate Awards have served as a launching pad for internationally renowned filmmakers who are early in their careers. The awards are also notable as a qualifier for films under 40 minutes for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Previous Golden Gate Award winners include Panah Panahi, Reid Davenport, Nadav Lapid, Marlon Riggs, Céline Sciamma, Jia Zhang-ke, Stanley Nelson, Tasha Van Zandt, and many others across nearly seven decades.
This year, the SFFILM Festival ran from April 13–23, with events held in theaters across the Bay Area, including the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), and several San Francisco-based theaters: the Dolby Cinema @ 1275 Market, the Castro Theatre, the Premier Theater, The Walt Disney Family Museum Theater, and the Festival’s hub at the CGV San Francisco. With a full slate of in-person programming and events, the 66th iteration of the Festival featured essential stories from both local and international filmmakers, who hailed from 37 countries. The SFFILM Festival also remained firm in its commitment to showcasing programming from artists with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences, with half of the films in the lineup being helmed by women or non-binary filmmakers.
Packed with notable moments, the Festival highlights were numerous, and included a celebratory Opening Night at Oakland’s historic Grand Lake Theatre, where director Peter Nicks and producer Ryan Coogler presented Nicks’ latest documentary, Stephen Curry: Underrated, to the audiences of two sold-out shows. Director Savanah Leaf’s much-celebrated Earth Mama had an exhilarating hometown premiere, complete with red-carpet appearances by stars Tia Nomore and Keta Price; and SFFILM Festival audiences lauded the world premiere of Adamu Chan’s riveting mid-length documentary What These Walls Won’t Hold. The Festival hosted two back-to-back sold out screenings at the historic Castro Theatre: Miri Navasky, Maeve O’Boyle, and Karen O’Connor’s documentary Joan Baez I Am a Noise, with the the iconic singer and activist in attendance, and the Centerpiece film, Past Lives, which had moviegoers relishing in first-time film director Celine Song’s tender, unconventional romance, and star Greta Lee’s striking performance. The final weekend featured fantastic moments for W. Kamau Bell’s latest mid-length documentary, 1000% Me: Growing Up Mixed; Sundance award-winner Bad Press; and the Closing Night program, four episodes of Boots Riley’s new Prime Video series I’m A Virgo starring Jharrel Jerome.
Some of the special honors of the 2023 SFFILM Festival were previously announced alongside the program launch, including SFFILM’s Persistence of Vision Award, which went to Northern Irish director and film historian Mark Cousins; and the Mel Novikoff Award, which honored Firelight Media founded by filmmakers Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith, and was presented with a special retrospective screening of Nelson’s pivotal work, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015). The Sloan Science in Cinema Prize went to Matthew Johnson’s SXSW standout BlackBerry, a film about the rise and fall of the world’s first smart device. SFFILM also celebrated visionary Canadian-British director Mary Harron with a tribute and screening of Dalíland, her latest film starring Sir Ben Kingsley.