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56th San Francisco International Film Festival Announces Juries for Feature and Short Film Competitions; Winners to Be Revealed May 8
New Directors Prize Showcases Rising Filmmakers, Golden Gate Awards Highlight Innovation and Excellence in the Craft, FIPRESCI Honors a Director Emerging on the International Scene
The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 25–May 9) today announced its juries and the prizes to be presented at the Festival’s Golden Gate Awards, Wednesday May 8, 9:00 pm at Rouge. Winners will be announced for the New Directors Prize, FIPRESCI Prize and the Golden Gate Awards. A total of $70,000 in prizes will be awarded.

New Directors Prize
The New Directors Prize is a $15,000 cash prize awarded to the director of a debut feature with a unique artistic sensibility or vision.

New Directors Jury
Charles Tonderai Mudede is a Zimbabwean-born film critic, filmmaker and the associate editor of The Stranger, Seattle’s primary weekly. Mudede collaborated with director Robinson Devor on two films, Police Beat and Zoo, both of which premiered at Sundance; Zoo also screened at Cannes. Mudede has written criticism for the New York Times, LA Weekly, Village Voice, Black Souls Journal, C Theory, Cinema Scope and a variety of academic journals. He has lived in Seattle since 1989.

After receiving her undergraduate degree in biology, Chilean-born Alicia Scherson turned to filmmaking, studying film in Cuba before receiving a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She made her feature debut with Play (SFIFF 2005) followed by Turistas (2009). Scherson’s third film, Il Futuro (SFIFF 2013) is an adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s novella, Una Novelita Lumpen. When she’s not making films, she teaches film at the Universidad de Chile.

Los Angeles Times film critic Betsy Sharkey is an award-winning entertainment journalist and bestselling author. In addition to the Los Angeles Times, her weekly movie reviews appear in print and online in media outlets across the country. She is a contributing critic for Entertainment Weekly’s Critical Mass, a frequent film festival jurist and a standing jury member for Cinema for Peace. Her books include collaborations with Oscar-winning actresses Faye Dunaway on Looking for Gatsby and Marlee Matlin on I'll Scream Later. With a degree in Journalism and a Masters in Communications Theory from Texas Christian University, she began her career in Texas but now calls California home.

The FIPRESCI Prize is given to a first or second feature film by a director emerging on the international scene. SFIFF is one of three festivals in the United States to host a FIPRESCI jury and award a FIPRESCI prize. The International Federation of Film Critics, FIPRESCI, has been in existence for more than 65 years, with members in over 60 countries. The prize was established to promote film art and to encourage new and emerging cinema. The purpose of FIPRESCI is to support cinema as an art and as an outstanding and autonomous means of expression.

Mario Abbade has been focusing on art, culture and media as a reporter, critic, publicist, art exhibition manager and teacher since 1990. He has worked at TV Bandeirantes, Radio Ritmo, Pipoca Moderna magazine, Jornal do Brasil newspaper, Tribuna da Imprensa newspaper and Scketch Video Makers, as a director and scriptwriter of several commercial films and institutional documentaries. He currently edits Almanaque Virtual, teaches film critics on Telezoom, writes for Correio Braziliense newspaper and is a staff film critic at Globo newspaper. He is also the president and curator of the Rio de Janeiro Association of Film Critics.

Originally from Melbourne, but now based in New York City, Glenn Dunks has been writing for nearly ten years for various publications both online and in print. Dunks is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has covered the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival and others. The San Francisco International Film Festival, however, is his first appearance on a FIPRESCI jury. Dunks has written reviews and features for The Big Issue, Metro Magazine, the Australian Film Institute, The Film Experience, Forte Magazine, Quickflix, SBS Film, Onya Magazine, Trespass and his own film-centric blog, Stale Popcorn. He can also be heard on community radio station Joy 94.9, Australia’s first and only gay and lesbian network.

V.A. Musetto is a longtime film critic who writes for the New York Post and Indiewire. He mainly focuses on indie American and foreign films, with a special interest in Asian filmmaking. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and frequents festivals from Transylvania to Rotterdam to Montreal. His favorite film of all time is Godard's Breathless.

Golden Gate Awards

The Golden Gate Awards competition has introduced Bay Area audiences to filmmakers who have transformed the medium with their award-winning documentary features and animated, narrative, experimental and documentary shorts. Bay Area media professionals screen submissions and then make recommendations to SFFS programmers who finalize the selections. Four juries view the official selections at the Festival and bestow Golden Gate Awards on films in seven categories. All winners will be announced at the Golden Gate Awards ceremony.

Golden Gate Awards Documentary Feature Jury
Bonni Cohen founded Actual Films with Jon Shenk in 1998 and is a cofounder of the Catapult Film Fund, which awards development grants to documentary filmmakers. She recently produced The Island President, winner of the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012. She produced and directed Inside Guantanamo (2009) for National Geographic Television, which was nominated for a 2010 Emmy for best documentary. Among her other films are The Rape of Europa (SFIFF 2007), Wonders are Many (2006), Democracy Afghan Style (2004), The Nobel: Visions of Our Century (2001) and Eye of the Storm (1999). Before coming to documentary film, Cohen worked as a journalist for Reuters Television and NBC, based in London and Jerusalem.

David D’Arcy reviews films for Screen International and frequently talks about film and culture on BBC Radio. He works on the film blog Outtakes for and writes about art and the art market for the Art Newspaper in London. He has written for the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Guardian and other publications. D’Arcy is a programmer for the Haifa International Film Festival in Israel. He is co-screenwriter and producer of Portrait of Wally (2012), a feature documentary about a Nazi-looted painting found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Critic and essayist Lisa Schwarzbaum worked as a movie critic at Entertainment Weekly from 1994 to 2013. A member of the National Society of Film Critics and a past chair of the New York Film Critics Circle, she served on the selection committee of the New York Film Festival from 2004–2008.

Golden Gate Awards Short Film Jury
Cheryl Dunye is a native of Liberia and holds an MFA from Rutgers University. Her fourth feature film, The Owls, was celebrated at national and international film festivals in 2010. Her third feature film, Miramax’s My Baby’s Daddy, was a U.S. box office success. Her second feature, HBO Films’ Stranger Inside, garnered her an Independent Spirit award nomination for best director. Dunye’s debut film, The Watermelon Woman, was awarded the Teddy Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1997. She has received numerous awards and honors for her work. Presently based in Oakland, Dunye is an Associate Professor of Film at California College of the Arts.

Amanda Micheli is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker and a celebrated cinematographer. Her first film, Just for the Ride, won a student Oscar and IDA Award. Double Dare (Audience Award, SFIFF 2004), which followed the struggles of two Hollywood stuntwomen, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was an audience favorite at festivals worldwide. La Corona premiered at Sundance and earned an Oscar nod before airing on HBO, and is currently in development for adaptation into a fiction feature. Most recently, she directed The Save for ESPN and One Nation Under Dog for HBO. Her other credits include Slomo, Thin, Cat Dancers, 30 Days and My Flesh and Blood.

Malcolm Pullinger is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker who produced and edited the award-winning documentaries Winnebago Man, Following Sean, The Love Competition and The Key of G. His films have been released theatrically in the U.S. and Canada; have aired on the BBC, PBS, ARTE and Channel Four; and have played at film festivals around the globe. Before cofounding short film purveyor Elevision, he served as the producer and creative director of Wholphin, the acclaimed short film quarterly published by McSweeney’s.

Youth Works Jury
Kiazad Ehya is a San Francisco–based filmmaker and video artist. Currently, he works as a freelance cinematographer and videographer producing commercial, documentary and narrative style content. He teaches media literacy at elementary schools as part of the San Francisco Film Society's Filmmaker in the Classroom program. His work has been featured on KQED’s Public Media Arts Blog and the Oakland International Film Festival. Ehya was also the recipient of the 2011 College to Cannes Film Festival award. Ehya's personal work seeks to explore stories that represent our culturally pluralistic world and portray underrepresented perspectives, both in the USA and worldwide.

Kristen Fang is a 16-year-old high school sophomore from Walnut Creek. Fang has a strong interest in film and the performing arts; she has taken summer theater classes and is flautist and piccoloist at the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. An avid performer, Fang has participated in international concerts in places such as Germany and Austria. In addition to the stage, she loves writing short narratives and exploring the realms of poetry. Also interested in ancient cultures, she studies Latin and enjoys reading about the history of theater. One of her favorite works by an ancient playwright is Sophocles's Oedipus Rex

Chanel Peng is a senior at Galileo Academy of Science and Technology. By participating in her school's Media Arts Pathway she has developed multiple skills in graphic design, animation and film. Peng is interested in pursuing degrees in both film and animation. In the future, she hopes to use her work to promote social change.

Sebastian Rodriguez is a senior at Moreau Catholic High School. From a very young age he has been interested in storytelling and has developed a strong passion for filmmaking. He has taken several film production and appreciation classes and is currently working on a program for his school broadcasting class entitled Variety Feed in which he updates the school on film, music and television news. Rodriguez is also organizing his school's 2nd annual film festival and working on his first short film Just Us. Rodriguez plans to pursue a career in directing, editing and writing for film.
Family Films Jury
Betsy Bozdech has been involved with the world of kids' and family media for the last seven years at San Francisco's Common Sense Media, covering first TV and now theatrical films. Prior to joining Common Sense Media she worked at Netflix, and Her experience with family focused media content has proven immensely helpful in raising her three-year-old daughter. Bozdech has master’s degrees from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

Steven Kirk has been a middle school teacher in San Francisco public schools for fifteen years. He currently teaches Language Arts and Social Studies at Claire Lilienthal Alternative K-8 School where he also teaches elective courses in Film Studies and Filmmaking. Kirk and his students regularly attend the Schools at the Festival program at SFIFF.
Lisa Scandrette has lived in San Francisco with her husband and three kids for 15 years. She has graduated two home-educated students, has one remaining at home and the SFIFF has been part of the yearly rhythm of their education for a number of years. Lisa loves engaging the passion and curiosity of students, reading a wide variety of books and being inspired by true stories of courage and beauty from all over the world. 

For a full list of films in competition, see the Golden Gate Awards Competition Official Selection list.

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56th San Francisco International Film Festival

The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival runs April 25–May 9 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, the Castro Theatre and New People Cinema in San Francisco and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. Held each spring for 15 days, the International is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country’s most beautiful cities, featuring 200 films and live events, 14 juried awards and $70,000 in cash prizes, upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests and diverse and engaged audiences with more than 70,000 in attendance.

San Francisco Film Society
Building on a legacy of more than 50 years of bringing the best in world cinema to the Bay Area, the San Francisco Film Society is a national leader in exhibition, education and filmmaker services. SFFS is headed by Executive Director Ted Hope with the programmatic leadership of Director of Programming Rachel Rosen, Director of Filmmaker360 Michele Turnure-Salleo and Director of Education Joanne Parsont.
The Film Society presents more than 100 days of exhibition each year, reaching a total audience of more than 100,000 people. Its acclaimed education program introduces international, independent and documentary cinema and media literacy to more than 10,000 teachers and students. Through Filmmaker360, the Film Society’s filmmaker services program, essential creative and business services, and funding totaling millions of dollars are provided to deserving filmmakers of all levels.
The Film Society seeks to elevate all aspects of film culture, offering a wide range of activities that engage emotions, inspire action, change perceptions and advance knowledge. A 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, it is largely donor and member supported. Patronage and membership provides discounted prices, access to grants and residencies, private events and a wealth of other benefits.
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