SFIFF Centrepiece Film Terri And Persistence Of Vision Award Recipient Matthew Barney

Yesterday celebrated the half way point of the San Francisco International Film Festival with its Centerpiece film, Azazel Jacob’s Terri. The film stars John C. Reilly, Jacob Wycobi and Creed Bratton. Terri already screened at Sundance and SXSW earlier this year and has met with mixed reviews. I caught the film at last night’s screening and think it will appeal to a wide audience. Jacobs and Bratton were kind enough to sit down with me this morning to discuss the project. The text of that interview, as well as my review will arrive shortly.

In other SFIFF news, the Persistance of Vision award was given to Matthew Barney. The award is given yearly to one whose main body of work is outside the realm of typical narrative feature filmmaking, crafting documentaries, short films, television, animated, experimental or multiplatform work, an artist that generally defies all genres. Past recipients include Errol Morris and Don Hertzfeldt.

The ceremony yesterday included an onstage interview with Barney about his body of work, followed by the North American premiere of Drawing Restraint 17.  Barney has worked on the Drawing Restraint series for the length of his career. Most installments have been performance art, with a few notable exceptions, including. Drawing Restraint 9, a feature length film starring Barney and his wife Björk which takes place on the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru. The series explores physicality, and the idea that growth is only achieved through restraint.

Drawing Restraint 17 marks some first time departures of long running themes in the series. Most notably, a female protagonist is introduced (American climber Emily Harrington), and the extensive use of split screens. The film is silent and runs only thirty two minutes and was made in response to a Scahulager curator’s reading of Barney’s work.

Harrington climbs the modernist architecture of Scahulager and Barney directs the building of a sculture made out of rotting wood beams. Inevitably, the two collide violently. The film reveals a pleasant, almost glossy aesthetic that is missing in most of Barney’s video works. It’s also strangely more accessible.

The San Francisco Film Society also honored Frank Pierson with the Kanbar Award for excellence in screenwriting. Pierson is quite literally a living lesson, his scripts already having stood the test of time. Cool Hand Luke and Dog Day Afternoon are some of the highlights of a long and celebrated career.

There’s still plenty more to come from SFIFF so stay tuned.