By Diana Cheng
AAP staff writer
CALGARY (March 21, 2017) — The 60th San Francisco International Film Festival announced its lineup on March 21 for a showcase of 181 films in 38 languages, representing 51 countries, all is set to run from April 5-19.
Films in competition will be eyeing for the Golden Gate Awards (GGA) in various juried categories, with prizes totaling nearly $40,000. Ten narrative films and ten documentaries are in contention, as well as shorts, animated shorts, family films and youth works.
In competition are several Asian films. Competing for the GGA New Directors Prize of $10,000 is director Zhang Hanyi’s debut “Life After Life” from Xstream Pictures in China. A poetic cinematic rendition depicting the clash between a remote farming village and the bulldozer of modernization. The film is produced by the prominent director Jia Zhangke, who is no stranger to the international film circuit. He is known for his Cannes winning “A Touch of Sin” (2013) plus other acclaimed works.
Also in contention for the New Directors Prize is “Duet” from Iran, a feature debut by Navid Danesh. Born in 1985, Danesh had studied filmmaking under the tutelage of renowned Iranian auteurs Abbas Kiarostami and Asghar Farhadi. In “Duet,” Danesh resonates with his mentors’ incisive depiction of intimate relationships, love and loss.
In the GGA Documentary Feature category, competing for the $10,000 prize is one title from Asia, India’s “The Cinema Travellers.” The documentary chronicles the fascinating traveling movie caravans of India, an homage to the era of the celluloid. The directors are internationally acclaimed photographer Amit Madheshiya and filmmaker documentarian Shirley Abraham. Shot over five years, “The Cinema Travelers” won the Golden Eye — Special Mention honors at Cannes Film Festival last year.
Another documentary in competition that ought to be noted here although it is from Switzerland/France, and that’s “Half Life in Fukushima.” Its subject matter is the life of elderly Japanese farmer Naoto Matsumura, who refused to leave his home in Fukushima after the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami.
The term “half life” refers to the radioactive decay of isotopes. It is also used as a metaphor for the bare existence of the remnant of a life and a land.
Five years after the tragedy, directors Mark Olexa and Francesca Scalisi captured in their documentary a life amidst desolation and the struggle to maintain normalcy and a home.
The SFIFF is the longest-running film festival in the Americas since 1957. Screenings and live events for their 60th year will take place in 15 venues throughout the Bay Area. For full info visit their website at http://www.sffilm.org.