List of SFIFF Feature, Documentary & Shorts Award Winners

The 57th San Francisco International Film Festival wrapped up on Thursday, May 8th, 2014, but not before the San Francisco Film Society announced the winners of the Golden Gate Award and New Directors Prize competitions. Here is a list of the winners, with comments from the jury. 

New Directors Prize


History of Fear, Benjamín Naishtat (Argentina/France/Germany/Qatar/Uruguay)

In a statement, the jury noted: “From an unusually strong slate of first films, the jury chose History of Fear, a slyly assured reflection on suburban paranoia from Argentine director Benjamín Naishtat. There may or may not be a predatory invasion (or two, or three) of a wealthy Buenos Aires enclave. But the movie’s subject, rendered with one eyebrow subtly cocked, is the rising panic of its residents, an indiscreetly charmless bourgeoisie crippled by nameless terrors. Goosing both his characters and his audience with intimations of horror, Naishtat makes expert use of the implicit with a wit and visual flair unusual in a novice filmmaker.”

Special Jury Recognition:
White Shadow, Noaz Deshe (Italy/Germany/Tanzania)
The Amazing Catfish, Claudia Sainte-Luce (Mexico)

“Special mention also goes to Israeli director Noaz Deshe’s White Shadow, a viscerally stylish neo-noir about the victimization of albinos in an African country ruled by superstition; and to The Amazing Catfish, a warm and exhilaratingly unpredictable dramedy from Mexican filmmaker Claudia Sainte-Luce about the impact of a mysterious stranger on a family struggling with imminent tragedy.”

The New Directors jury was composed of Filmmaker Magazine Editor-in-Chief Scott Macaulay, Fandor co-founder Jonathan Marlow and writer Ella Taylor.

Golden Gate Award Documentary Feature Winners

A scene from Jesse Moss' THE OVERNIGHTERS.

A scene from Jesse Moss’ THE OVERNIGHTERS.

Documentary Feature:
The Overnighters, Jesse Moss (USA)

The jury noted in a statement: “Jesse Moss’ The Overnighters, which follows a pastor’s efforts to house job-seekers in an insular North Dakota town, is exceptional as an exercise of narrative craft, as a feat of immersion journalism, and as an intimate portrait of one man’s struggles. In driving to the heart of local discontent, the documentary is admirably fair-minded, yet it is Moss’ alertness as a filmmaker that lets him stay close to the story as its subjects take unexpected, sometimes shocking, turns. The result illuminates a messy confluence of American interests: faith, altruism, family, opportunity, and the search for honest self-expression.”

A scene from Sara Dosa's  THE LAST SEASON.

A scene from Sara Dosa’s THE LAST SEASON.

Bay Area Documentary Feature:
The Last Season, Sara Dosa (USA)

The jury noted: “The Last Season, a remarkable documentary about rare-mushroom hunting in the Oregon woods, sweeps away the topsoil of the Pacific landscape to reveal the multilayered social legacy of distant wars. Along the way, it unearths affinities and affections that challenge common ideas about family. With integrity of craft, first-time director Sara Dosa here claims the high standard of Bay Area documentary filmmaking for a new generation.”

A scene from Talal Derki's RETURN TO HOMS.

A scene from Talal Derki’s RETURN TO HOMS.

Special jury recognition:
Return to Homs, Talal Derki (Syria/Germany)

The jury noted: “Turning the stuff of headlines into intimate personal history, Talal Derki’s Return to Homs uses extraordinary access — footage from young rebels’ private meetings and urban battles — as a window onto the Syrian conflict. The film’s light-footed coverage captures the spirit of an uprising driven by mobile technology, while its emotional immediacy brings to life one rebel’s slow progression from peaceful protester to violent revolutionary. This is the rare film valuable both as a revelatory news document and as a moving story out of time: a private narrative that maps the broader course of conflict and idealism in the region.”

The Golden Gate Award Documentary feature competition jury was comprised of filmmaker Rob Epstein, journalist Nathan Heller, and Film Society of Lincoln Center Co-Executive Director Lesli Klainberg.


Golden Gate Award Short Film Winners

Narrative Short (tie): The Birds’ Blessing, Serge Mirzabekiantz, (Belgium)
So You’ve Grown Attached, Kate Tsang (USA)

Documentary Short: The High Five, Michael Jacobs (USA)

Animated Short: The Missing Scarf, Eion Duffy (Ireland)

Bay Area Short (tie): Santa Cruz del Islote, Luke Lorentzen (USA)
No One but Lydia, Rob Richert (USA)

New Visions Short: Numbers & Friends, Alexander Carson (Canada)

Family Film: The Dam Keeper, Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi (USA)
Family Film Honorable Mention: The Numberlys, WIlliam Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg (USA)

Youth Work: Epitaph, Charles Blecker (USA)
Youth Work Honorable Mention: Bay Area Girls Rock Camp, Lily Yu, Judy Lee, Jeremiah Mellor (USA)

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