'Door' opens 50th S.F. fest


Emanuele Crialese's "The Golden Door," an account of a Sicilian family coming to America at the turn of the last century, will serve as the opening-night film of the San Francisco International Film Festival, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The fest, which runs April 26-May 10, will screen 200 films from 54 countries and present three world premieres.

Tom DiCillo's satiric comedy "Delirious," starring Steve Buscemi, has been slated as the Centerpiece film, while the closing-night attraction will be Oliver Dahan's Edith Piaf biopic "La vie en rose," starring Marion Cotillard.

"A golden anniversary comes around only once in an organization's lifetime," San Francisco Film Society executive director Graham Leggat said Tuesday in unveiling the lineup. "And we intend to take full advantage of this remarkable occasion."

Honorees at the annual black-tie Film Society Awards Night, set for May 3 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, include Spike Lee, recipient of the Directing Award; Robin Williams, who will be recognized with the Peter J. Owens Award honoring an actor whose work exemplifies brilliance, independence and integrity; Peter Morgan, who will receive the Kanbar Award for excellence in screenwriting; and George Lucas, who will be presented with the one-time-only Irving M. Levin Award, named after the festival's founder.

This year's recipient of the Mel Novikoff Award is film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow, who will be honored April 28 at the Castro Theatre.

Documentarian Heddy Honigmann will be honored with the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award, which honors the achievement of a filmmaker who works in forms other than narrative features, on May 1 at the Sundance Cinemas Kabuki.

This year, the festival is inaugurating the Midnight Awards to honor a dynamic young American actor and actress entering the prime of their careers, with Sam Rockwell and Rosario Dawson on tap as the inaugural recipients.

Eleven films will be in juried competition for the 11th annual SKYY Prize, a $10,000 cash award given to a new feature filmmaker. The contenders are Kim Rossi Stuart's "Along the Ridge," from Italy; John Barker's "Bunny Chow" (South Africa); Daniel Wu's "The Heavenly Kings" (Hong Kong); Xiaolu Guo's "How Is Your Fish Today?" (China); Joachim Trier's "Reprise" (Norway); Tariq Teguia's "Rome Rather Than You" (Algeria); Jean-Pascal Hattu's "7 Years" (France); Pavel Giroud's "The Silly Age" (Cuba); Francisco Vargas's "The Violin" (Mexico); Marwan Hamed's "The Yacoubian Building" (Egypt); and Horace Ahmad's "Zolykha's Secret" (Afghanistan).

The Golden Gate Awards Ceremony, which includes the SKYY Prize and FIPRESCI Prize as well as awards in 14 juried Golden Gate Award categories, will take place May 9 at Fort Mason Center.