San Francisco Film Festival names doc competition titles

After Tiller and God Loves Uganda (pictured) are among the 12 feature documentaries that will compete for the Golden Gate Award at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival.
March 6, 2013

After Tiller and God Loves Uganda (pictured) are among the 12 feature documentaries that will compete for the Golden Gate Award at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival.

The winner will receive a USD$20,000 award and the winner of the festival’s other doc prize, the Bay Area Award, will receive $15,000. The prize winners will be announced at a ceremony on May 8.

Competition titles in six other categories will be unveiled at the festival press conference on April 2. The festival runs from April 25 to May 9.

The full list of docs competing for the 2013 Golden Gate Award are listed below, with descriptions provided by the festival:

After Tiller
D: Martha Shane and Lana Wilson, USA
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.

Before You Know It
D: PJ Raval, USA
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.

D: Mika Mattila, Finland (U.S. Premiere)
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
D: Zachary Heinzerling, USA
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
D: Roger Ross Williams, USA/Uganda
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.

D: Pedro González-Rubio, Japan
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.

The Kill Team
D: Dan Krauss, USA
In this chilling documentary, Bay Area–based Dan Krauss (The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club) 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.

Let the Fire Burn
D: Jason Osder, USA
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.

Rent a Family Inc.
D: Kaspar Astrup Schröder, Denmark (U.S. Premiere)
Filmmaker Kaspar Astrup Schröder’s (The Invention of Dr. Nakamats) 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.”

A River Changes Course
D: Kalyanee Mam, Cambodia/USA
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
D: Oskar Alegria, Spain
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.

Sofia’s Last Ambulance
D: Ilian Metev, Germany/Bulgaria/Croatia
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.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.