Meet the Golden Gate Award winners at the 2018 SFFILM Festival

Photo by Tommy Lau

On Sunday, April 15, the 2018 San Francisco International Film Festival (April 4–17) announced the winners of the juried Golden Gate Award (GGA) competitions at an event held at The Lab. The Festival’s Audience Awards were also announced from the Castro Theatre stage at the Closing Night screening. This year the Festival awarded nearly $40,000 in prizes to emerging and established filmmakers.

Determined by audience ballot throughout the Festival, Audience Awards are given in two categories — fiction feature and documentary feature.

Audience Award – Fiction Feature: Eighth Grade, Bo Burnham (USA)

Audience Award – Documentary Feature: A Thousand Thoughts – A Live Documentary by Sam Green and Kronos Quartet, Sam Green & Joe Bini (USA)

The New Directors award is given to a debut feature by an international filmmaker whose work exhibits unique artistic sensibility or vision. The New Directors jury included Programmer Dilcia Barrera, Producer and Editor-in-Chief of Filmmaker Magazine Scott Macaulay, and Producer Adele Romanski.

GGA New Directors Award winner: Scary Mother, Ana Urushadze (Georgia/Estonia) 
 • Receives $10,000 cash prize

The jury awarded its Golden Gate prize to Ana Urushadze for Scary Mother “for its confident tone and unquestioning commitment to its fearless protagonist, a complicated artist caught between motherhood and the wilds of her own imagination.”

For more than 60 years, a significant element of the SFFILM Festival has been its broad selection of acclaimed documentaries from across the globe. There are two awards in this category — Best Documentary and Best Bay Area Documentary. Films in the Bay Area Documentary Feature category are also eligible for the Best Documentary Feature award. This year’s Documentary Feature jury was comprised of filmmaker and journalist Carrie Lozano, journalist Noel Murray, and nonfiction filmmaker, visual artist, and writer AJ Schnack.

McBaine Documentary Feature Award Winner: The Distant Barking of Dogs, Simon Lereng Wilmont (Denmark/Sweden/Finland) 
 • Receives $10,000 cash prize

The jury described the Feature Award winner as “Remarkable, exquisite, and unforgettable.”

McBaine Bay Area Documentary Feature Award: The Judge, Erika Cohn (USA/Palestine) 
 • Receives $5,000 cash prize

The jury applauded The Judge for “turning a lens on a charismatic and influential woman who is fighting for equality against all odds, and for its nuanced portrayal of a culture that is often misunderstood.”

Special Jury Mention, McBaine Documentary Feature: City of the Sun, Rati Oneli (Georgia/USA/Qatar/Netherlands) 
The jury granted this mention to Oneli’s film “for its stunning use of cinematography and sound design that immerses us in a place that is at once stark and stirring.”

The Festival is proud to have a variety of shorts in competition across programs. The GGA Short Film jury consisted of Director of Canyon Cinema Antonella Bonfanti, filmmaker Mark Decena, and programmer Liliana Rodriguez.

Narrative Short Winner: Shadow Animals, Jerry Carlsson (Sweden) 
 • Receives $2,000 cash prize

In a statement, the jury applauded Shadow Animals for “its masterful control of tone and pacing. Shot from the perspective of a young girl at a dinner party, Jerry Carlsson’s short strikes a delicate balance of dread and intrigue, delightfully incorporating surreal, beautiful dance while exploring group mentality anxieties and the potential of one outsider.”

Special Jury Mention, Narrative Short: Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month, Carlo Francisco Manatad (Philippines)

The jury noted: “Carlo Francisco Manatad’s impressive and rebellious movie, from the opening credits until the very end, explodes with the energy of a Molotov.”

Documentary Short Winner: Crisanto Street, Paloma Martinez (USA) 
 • Receives $2,000 cash prize

The jury awarded this prize to Paloma Martinez’s film with a statement: “So often overlooked and avoided, the issue of the affordable home crisis gets a front row seat from an unexpected view. With a bold choice to arm an 8-year-old boy with a camera, Crisanto Street skillfully renders a touching and powerful portrait of a family trying to survive on the edges. Never sentimental, Martinez captures the family’s struggle with dignity and the ephemeral possibility of hope.”

New Visions Short Winner: .TV, G. Anthony Svatek (USA/Tuvalu/New Zealand/France) 
 • Receives $2,000 cash prize

The Best New Visions Short Prize was awarded to G. Anthony Svatek’s consideration of Tuvalu’s highly desired national domain suffix .TV for being “an illuminating and surprising account of the hidden economies of technology and the island nation’s eminent risk of extinction due to climate-change.”

Special Jury Mention, New Visions Short: Fair Grounds, Ameer Kazmi (USA/France/Germany) The jury recognized the film for its “tenacious yet elegant abstract critique and exploration of youthful masculinity.”

Animated Short Winner: Icebergs, Elrini Vianelli (USA/Greece) 
 • Receives $2,000 cash prize

The jury found Icebergs to be “like looking through the windows of a high-rise — Elrini Vianelli’s short weaves together the small, funny, mundane, and most important moments of its characters’ lives, presenting only snippets of what are full, complex people: the human condition in ten minutes.”

Bay Area Short First Prize Winner: Weekends, Trevor Jimenez (USA) 
 • Receives $2,000 cash prize

The jury acknowledged that “It is rare that a short film, let alone an animated short with no dialogue, has the depth and narrative arc of a feature. The back and forth travels of a young child between his divorced parents’ dwellings reminds us all of what constitutes family, and what makes a place, something we call home. Perhaps it is somewhere in between.”

Bay Area Short Second Prize Winner: 49 Mile Scenic Drive, Bradley Smith, Tyler McPherron (USA) 
 • Receives $1,500 cash prize

In a statement, the jury noted that “Through thoughtful and captivating use of archival footage and humor, this charming short film tells the history of San Francisco’s iconic 49 Mile Scenic Drive signs and the journey to restore them to their perfectly designed glory.”

The Youth Works jury was comprised of actor, writer, producer and ARTivist Fawzia Mirza and Bay Area students Olina Scott, Anthony Carter, and Juan Montgomery.

Youth Works Prize: Goodbye Sam, Theo Taplitz (USA) 
 • Receives $1,000 cash prize

The jury lauded “the playful quirkiness of Goodbye Sam for emotionally embracing the power of friendship, making us laugh and cry and wanting to see more of the oddball story of a boy and his pet bird.”

Special Jury Mention: Elle, Florence Winter Hill (UK) The jury granted this special mention to Florence Winter Hill’s short for “striking an emotional chord for all of us who had to face growing up and letting go of childhood dreams.”

The Family Film jury was comprised of writer Carvell Wallace, Betsy Bozdech from Common Sense Media, and Marcy Johnson, Jefferson Elementary School teacher.

Family Film Prize Winner: Crisanto Street, Paloma Martinez (USA) 
 · Receives $1,500 cash prize

The jury noted: “One of the rare films that truly shows us the world through a child’s eyes, this multilayered short doesn’t shy away from life’s struggles, but it demonstrates that joy and home can be found everywhere.”

Special Jury Mention: Bird Karma, William Salazar (USA) The jury praised Bird Karma for “taking on astonishing depth with playfulness, simplicity, humor, and beauty.”

The 2018 Golden Gate Awards were proudly sponsored by IMDbPro.

Hashtags: #SFFILM and #SFFILMFestival
Twitter: @SFFILM
Instagram: @sffilm