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Written by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Drew Altizer

Film stars and cinéastes were out in force December 6 at YBCA Forum to celebrate the 2021 SFFILM Awards Night. Led by cochairs Heidi Castelein, Krutika and Raj Patel, and Katie and Todd Traina — along with corporate support from First Republic Bank, Lucasfilm, Pixar and Netflix — 230 guests, who generously received COVID test kits that SFFILM delivered to their homes ahead of the big night, gave standing ovations to each honoree and their equally accomplished presenters or filmic collaborators. The latter inducted each winner.

The sparkly soiree, featuring red-carpet cocktails and a delectable McCalls three-course dinner, raised critical funds for SFFILM’s year-round programs, exhibitions, youth education and arts development.

Director and producer Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard) received the SFFILM Special Award for Distinctive Voice from actor Jon Bernthal.

Actor, producer and director Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Lost Daughter) was recognized for her groundbreaking work in all three disciplines with the Kanbar Award for Storytelling by director, screenwriter and San Jose native Alice Wu (The Half of It).

The SFFILM Award for Acting honored Oscar Isaac (Dune) and was presented by director Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — the finest amid the wizarding franchise), a beloved SF regular who, in 2017, decamped for Malibu.

And director Jane Campion — a global star since her 1993 debut feature, The Piano — was toasted by none other than director Francis Ford Coppola, the Godfather of filmmaking in San Francisco and far beyond.

“Your presence here shows your belief in the power of film, your belief that the Bay Area is a cultural force in the world. And that community built from the arts is vital and necessary,” said SFFILM Executive Director Anne Lai in her first official public awards appearance since her January 2020 appointment. “This is what movies do: They invite different identities and perspectives into our view. They provide a path for empathy. Great films entertain and can inspire social change. And films reflect our world, as a critical art form of understanding.”

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