March 28, 2023

By Diana Cheng
AAP Film and Arts Writer

San Francisco, Calif. (April 22, 2019) — The 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival’s juried Golden Gate Award winners were announced on Sunday. For over 60 years, the competitions has honored deserving filmmakers and their projects from the local Bay Area to international spectrum.

A scene from Lila Avilés’s film “Chambermaid,” playing at the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival, April 10 – 23, 2019. Courtesy of SFFILM.

This year, the Golden Gate New Directors Award (Fiction Feature) goes to ‘The Chambermaid’, directed by Lila Avilés, a Mexican/USA co-production, with Avilés receiving $10,000 cash prize. 

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 jurors were former director and CEO of Toronto International Film Festival Piers Handling, film critic Amy Nicholson and writer Jada Yuan. 

In awarding this top prize, the jury stated, “This film drew us into its character’s claustrophobic world with precision, sophistication, restraint, and warmth. A devasting portrait of a working- class woman who gradually challenges her circumstances, this young filmmaker creates unbearable tension from ordinary, overlooked moments. And yet there’s joy, too, and above all the beautiful dignify of its lead actress, Gabriela Cartol, and the co-workers who complicate her days.”

Lila Avilés, director of “Chambermaid, playing at the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival, April 10 – 23, 2019. Courtesy of SFFILM.

Special Jury Mention, New Directors, goes to the China/Taiwan co-production of “Suburban Birds”, helmed by Chinese filmmaker Qiu Sheng. The jury remarked that “Suburban Birds” as “a film that is all contradictions. It’s hypnotic and punk rock, languid and jerky. If that weren’t weird enough, it’s an art film made by a visionary with an engineering degree, and captures the atmosphere of a rapidly developing country that is currently swallowing independent voices in a metaphorical sinkhole.”

For more than 60 years, a significant element of the SFFILM Festival has been its broad selection of acclaimed documentaries from across the globe. The McBaine Documentary Feature Award consists of two categories – 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 Associate Vice President at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Gina Duncan, Web Editor and Digital Director at Harper’s Magazine and a member of the New York Times Film Critics Circle, Violet Lucca, and Film Programmer Sudeep Sharma.

The McBaine Documentary Feature Award Winner is “Midnight Traveler” by Hassan Fazili (USA/Qatar/Canada/UK), who receives $10,000 cash prize. The jury described the Feature Award winner as “an incredible document that is beautiful and compelling. A true achievement of filmmaking and parenting.”

McBaine Bay Area Documentary Feature Award goes to “The Seer And The Unseen” with director Sara Dosa (USA/Iceland) winning a cash prize of $5,000. The jury applauded Dosa’s film as “a novel approach to belief systems and their power to shape our physical world.”

The 2019 SFFILM wraps on April 23. To read Diana Cheng’s review of “The Chambermaid” Click Here.


Contact Diana Cheng at [email protected] or visit at Twitter @Arti_Ripples or her blog Ripple Effects

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