Yesterday the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 25–May 9) announced 22 films in competition for the New Directors Prize and the Golden Gate Award nominees for documentary feature (in-depth look about the New Directors Prize were posted yesterday). The International will award $20,000 to the GGA documentary feature winner and $15,000 to the Bay Area documentary feature winner. Independent juries will select the winners, which will be announced at the Golden Gate Awards, Wednesday, May 8.
View this year's documentaries below and remember the best value to watch them all is to purchase an Early Bird CineVoucher 10-pack!
Martha Shane and Lana Wilson
After the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in 2009, there are now only four doctors left in the country who provide third-trimester abortions for women. After Tiller moves between the rapidly unfolding stories of these doctors, all of whom were close colleagues of Dr. Tiller and are fighting to keep this service available in the wake of his death.
You Know It
Before You Know It explores the fascinating, but until now, rarely seen world of aging gay men. This provocative, poignant and life-affirming documentary details the lives of three different and remarkable individuals, the joys and hardships they experience, the difficulties of aging and being overlooked and also the support and uplift they find in their particular communities.
This revelatory and visually striking documentary follows a pair of political pop artists—the hugely successful middle-aged painter and sculptor Wang Guangyi and the gifted young photographer Liu Gang—as they grapple with their place and purpose in a new China of pervasive materialism and Western influence.
Cutie and the Boxer
After 39 years of marriage, painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko, have weathered many storms of creative conflict. Clearly the nurturer in the relationship, Noriko endeavors to support her fiery partner while also endeavoring to find space for her own artistic efforts. Capturing them both, at work and at play, the result is a skillfully crafted portrait of art and long-term companionship.
God Loves Uganda
Roger Ross Williams
A powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right, the film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow Biblical law.
In the small mountain community of Kannogawa, Japan, the laws of nature reshape the human blueprint of what used to be a lively town. While the younger generations have gone to the cities, the few people who remain perform the everyday activities with a brave perspective on their history and the cycles of life.
In this chilling documentary, Bay Area–based Dan Krauss (The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club, Golden Gate Award winner, SFIFF 2005) explores the deeply disturbing story of U.S. soldiers, stationed in Afghanistan in 2009, who were convicted of murdering innocent civilians. Their motives, and the culture that enabled their crimes, are as complex as they are nightmarish.
the Fire Burn
In 1985, the Philadelphia Police Department dropped two pounds of military explosives on the house belonging to the radical black liberation group known as MOVE. Constructed entirely of archival materials and judicious intertitles, the film cannily juxtaposes startling images from the bombing, the resulting fire—left to burn for over an hour—and their aftermath to create a vivid portrait of a tragic injustice.
a Family Inc.
Kaspar Astrup Schröder
Filmmaker Kaspar Astrup Schröder’s (The Invention of Dr. Nakamats, SFIFF 2009) alternately fetching, absorbing and offbeat documentary revolves around a 44-year-old Japanese family man who owns and operates a professional stand-in business that rents out fake relatives, spouses, friends and parents to a rapidly growing Japanese customer base “desperate…to cover up a secret.”
River Changes Course
Bay Area filmmaker Kalyanee Mam presents an intimate and moving portrait of the vanishing world of rural farmers and fishermen in Cambodia. Focusing on three families in vivid cinéma vérité style, Mam reveals how the encroaching modern world is destroying the rich and sustaining cultures of the past and forcing the young to seek work in factories or plantations.
The Search for Emak Bakia
In 1926, avant garde artist Man Ray shot a film titled Emak Bakia, a Basque expression that means “Leave me alone.” Intrigued by the fanciful conundrums and coincidences of Ray and his art, filmmaker Oskar Alegría ignores Ray’s dictum and sets out to plumb the mysteries of Emak Bakia, leading to an unforgettable journey of whimsical discoveries and charming surprises
On the front lines of a degraded emergency-care system in Sofia, Bulgaria, an over-extended, yet emphatically humane, paramedic crew hurtles frantically from one call to the next in a dilapidated ambulance. Filmed primarily through the lenses of three dashboard-mounted cameras, Sofia’s Last Ambulance unfolds in a series of unflinching, real-time vignettes shot over the course of two years.