Social Justice Highlights the 53rd San Francisco Internation Film Fesival Gaolden Gate Awards

Director Lixin Fan

Director Lixin Fan

In the last days of the 53rd SFIFF we must attend the parties (oh yes, it is a chore) and awards ceremonies. Last night we milled about the Golden Gate Awards with lots of buzz, drinks, food and happy filmmakers. The under appreciated and deserving filmmakers stood in the spotlight and garnered more than just awards but cold hard cash. (That’s what indie feature and docu filmmakers need most).

Held at the Temple Bar which does more than the average bar/club and adheres to the People, Profit and Planet philosophy (but we wish that they would do away with the paper towels in the bathrooms) the Golden Gate awards spotlighted several films and filmmakers who created sustainable and socially responsible films. Among the big winners, Director Lixin Fan picked up an award for best Investigative Documentary (along with oh so welcome cash) for his intriguing and visually stunning Last Train Home which highlights the story of a group of migrant factory workers on a taxing holiday trip back to their small village in modern China. It offers a stirring look at social justice and the dichotomy of modern versus old school China life.

The film beat out other feature documentary contenders including: Colony, where two Irish directors (Ross McDonnell and Carter Gunn) investigate the mystery of the vanishing bee colonies in California’s Central Valley and The Investigation of Dr. Nakamats.

In a nod to festival award recipient Roger Ebert, here’s a thumbs up to films that don’t have to resort to 3D to tell a story.

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