Mar 19, 2019
Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker and Arena Series Editor Anthony Wall will Accept Novikoff Award and Participate in a Special Onstage Conversation
San Francisco, CA – SFFILM will present the Mel Novikoff Award to BBC’s Arena at the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival (April 10–23, 2019). The award presentation takes place on Saturday, April 20, at 4:00 pm at BAMPFA. The presentation will feature an onstage conversation with Series Editor and Executive Producer Anthony Wall, followed by a 35mm screening of the Arena film Wisconsin Death Trip (1999), which Wall also produced.
Under plangent chords written by Brian Eno, an empty bottle floats into view on dark blue water, coming closer, until we read the pink message—”Arena”—on the glass. No, it’s not a cola elixir or the best bottle of beer you ever threw away – but it’s the opening to one of the greatest television shows ever put together and sustained for 40 years. The show had its roots in theater and music, but it quickly reached out to literature and cinema. Over the years, Arena would deliver classic portraits of Luis Buñuel, Orson Welles, and Ingmar Bergman, all of which were notable for searching interviews that lasted several hours before being shaped and edited for the show.
Current Series Editor Anthony Wall, who joined Arena in 1975 to become one of its leading directors, will be accepting the Novikoff Award and participating in an onstage conversation. The award, named for pioneering San Francisco art and repertory film exhibitor Mel Novikoff (1922–1987), acknowledges an individual or institution whose work has enhanced the filmgoing public’s knowledge and appreciation of world cinema.
Anthony Wall became the Series Editor of Arena in 1985. Aside from having won many personal awards, Wall’s contributions to film were also recognized with the Special Medallion Award from the Telluride Film Festival. A few of his film subjects with include Amy Winehouse, Luciano Pavarotti, Zhang Yimou, Chrissie Hynde, and Bob Dylan. He joins noted Bay Area writer and cultural commentator Greil Marcus in an onstage conversation at BAMPFA before the 35mm screening of the film Wisconsin Death Trip (1999).
Wisconsin Death Trip
James Marsh, UK/USA, 1999, 76 min
“To label James Marsh’s Wisconsin Death Trip a documentary might risk prosecution from Black Falls River, Wisconsin, where its events occurred. Nor is this simply a filmed version of Michael Lesy’s innovative book, published in 1973 … [It] uses elements [of the book], but it adds two more: snow-bright black-and-white moving imagery, ‘melodramatized’ as it were, of the suicides, the murders, the madness, the bereft gazes; and languid, yet eerie, color footage of that part of Wisconsin today … Marsh’s film is a litany of nearly exultant disasters that may embrace all of America.” — David Thomson
In association with the award presentation and screening of Wisconsin Death Trip, the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival will also be presenting a free gallery screening of the Arena 40th-anniversary film, Night and Day. Co-created and directed by Anthony Wall, the film is a distillation of four decades of filmmaking into a 24-hour “visual experience,” broadcast in real time, encompassing an entire day from morning to night.
This 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival special presentation of Night and Day is not simply a more condensed version of the original exhibition—it runs nine hours—but includes footage unique to its San Francisco premiere. Viewers choose when to arrive and how long to stay, designing their own individual experience. The gallery screening event takes place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) Lobby Gallery on April 19, from 12:00–9:00 pm.
Previous recipients of the Mel Novikoff Award are Annette Insdorf (2018), Tom Luddy (2017), Janus Films and the Criterion Collection (2016), Lenny Borger (2015), David Thomson (2014), Peter von Bagh (2013), Pierre Rissient (2012), Serge Bromberg (2011), Roger Ebert (2010), Bruce Goldstein (2009), Jim Hoberman (2008), Kevin Brownlow (2007), Anita Monga (2005), Paolo Cherchi Usai (2004), Manny Farber (2003), David Francis (2002), Cahiers du Cinéma (2001), San Francisco Cinematheque (2001), Donald Krim (2000), David Shepard (2000), Enno Patalas (1999), Adrienne Mancia (1998), Judy Stone (1997), Film Arts Foundation (1997), David Robinson (1996), Institut Lumière (1995), Naum Kleiman (1994), Andrew Sarris (1993), Jonas Mekas (1992), Pauline Kael (1991), Donald Richie (1990), USSR Filmmakers Association (1989), and Dan Talbot (1988).
The Mel Novikoff Award Committee members are Francis J. Rigney (emeritus), Rachel Rosen (ex officio), Helena R. Foster, Maurice Kanbar, Philip Kaufman, Tom Luddy, Gary Meyer, Anita Monga, Janis Plotkin and Peter Scarlet.
Tickets to Mel Novikoff Award: Arena are $13 for SFFILM members, $16 for the general public. Box office is open online now at sffilm.org.
For general information visit sffilm.org/festival.
For photos and press materials visit sffilm.org/press.
2019 San Francisco International Film Festival
The longest-running film festival in the Americas, the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM Festival) is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country’s most beautiful cities. The 62nd edition runs April 10–23 at venues across the Bay Area and features nearly 200 films and live events, 14 juried awards with close to $40,000 in cash prizes, and upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests.
SFFILM is a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM is a year-round organization delivering screenings and events to more than 75,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 12,000 students and teachers annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services.
For more information visit sffilm.org.
This press release is available online at sffilm.org/press/releases.