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55th San Francisco International Film Festival rolls out 11 new features

A previous closing night of the San Francisco International Film Festival at the Castro Theatre. photo: Tommy Lau, courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

The competition is fierce this year at the International Film Festival, held primarily at the Sundance Kabuki Theater in Japantown.

Eleven new films are in contention for the $15,000 New Directors Prize. Twelve documentaries hailing from nine countries are hoping for a piece of the $35,000 offered in the Documentary category — a type of filmmaking that has been burgeoning in recent years. Of course the money is nice, but it’s the recognition that new filmmakers are hoping for.

The Golden Gate Award winner for Best Feature Documentary will receive $20,000. The Best Bay Area Documentary gets $15,000. The winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 2.

One Bay Area documentary is The Waiting Room by Peter Nicks. It depicts a day in the life of doctors, nurses, patients, and health-care workers in Alameda County’s busiest trauma unit at Highland Hospital.

Two hundred films and many live events – including 100 filmmakers in attendance – are scheduled. More than 70,000 people are expected to attend.

San Francisco Inter-national Film Festival: Sundance Kabuki Cinema, the Castro Theatre, the S.F. Film Society, SFMOMA, and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley; April 19–May 3; (415) 561-5000,

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