Here’s to the use­ful magic of film hon­ors

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - DATEBOOK - Leah Garchik is open for busi­ness in San Fran­cisco, 415-777-8426. Email: lgar­[email protected] sfchron­i­ Twit­ter: @leah­garchik

Hav­ing ar­rived in a va­ri­ety of fine coaches on Mon­day night, Dec. 3, the film crowd — movie mavens and moviemak­ers — was met by staffers with lit wands, who guided them down a path in­side the perime­ter of the Palace of Fine Arts’ ma­jes­tic columns. It was a grand en­trance to SFFilm’s Awards Night gala, and surely an event cel­e­brat­ing an egal­i­tar­ian art form that more than any other ger­mi­nates and re­flects world­wide imag­i­na­tions de­serves no less.

Early on, the San Fran­cisco In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val was held at the Palace; the place has mem­o­ries for stal­warts of what used to be called the San Fran­cisco Film So­ci­ety. Among the board mem­bers present were sev­eral with con­nec­tions long and deep enough — Fred Levin, for ex­am­ple, whose fa­ther founded the fes­ti­val — to re­mem­ber.

That said, SFFilm has grown and ex­panded, par­tic­u­larly as a seedbed for ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams for schoolkids and provider of train­ing and in­spi­ra­tion for young film­mak­ers. This an­nual event is in­tended to raise money for those pro­grams. Dur­ing a fund-a-need sec­tion of the evening, more than $250,000 was raised in a few min­utes. I men­tion this first in an ac­count of the evening, be­cause it’s re­ally the core of the event.

Yes, as Ruthe Stein has writ­ten, there are awards that cel­e­brate ex­traor­di­nary tal­ent: the Irv­ing M. Levin Award for film di­rec­tion went to Steve McQueen; the Kan­bar Award for sto­ry­telling went to Boots Ri­ley; the Pe­ter J. Owens Award for act­ing went to Amy Adams.

Ri­ley, of course, is from Oak­land, and he ex­pressed his par­tic­u­lar grat­i­tude for SFFilm’s help in his ca­reer build­ing. “This is some­thing that brings it all home,” he said. McQueen and Adams were vis­i­tors, here for their awards and grate­ful for the hon­ors. But the grat­i­tude is a two-way street.

It’s the hon­orees who de­serve thanks for lur­ing en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers and un­ty­ing purse strings, mak­ing it pos­si­ble for SFFilm to ful­fill its goals. Ev­ery­one wants to bask in the glow of celebrity ra­di­ance, as ev­ery Amer­i­can, no mat­ter how blase, loves sink­ing into a plush seat in a dark­ened the­ater to be told a story. Serv­ing as sym­bols of pro­fes­sional magic mak­ing, stars and film­mak­ers by their very pres­ence rev the money-rais­ing en­gine.

“Ev­ery­one re­laxes when they get here,” said SFFilm’s Noah Cowan, chat­ting be­fore the cer­e­mony and de­scrib­ing the film pros ar­riv­ing in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, def­i­nitely a less-pres­sured at­mos­phere than Hol­ly­wood. But re­laxed though they may be, those stars are here serv­ing a Film So­ci­ety pur­pose. A gala like Mon­day’s cap­i­tal­izes on Amer­ica’s cul­tural pas­sion, us­ing the celebrity film­mak­ers and stars to make ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams pos­si­ble.

The crowd at din­ner was well-off, so­phis­ti­cated ... but also movie-mad and starstruck. “We are mak­ing art,” said McQueen, ac­cept­ing his award. “Art has a life of its own. We are only here to pro­vide a plat­form.”

At the check­out counter at Har­vest Mar­ket in No­vato, Mark Aronoff no­ticed two work­ers stand­ing side by side wear­ing badges with their first names, “Bob” and “Dy­lan.” He made some joke about the mu­si­cian and No­bel Prize win­ner, but Dy­lan, the younger of the two, said he hadn’t heard of any­one named “Bob Dy­lan” (which just proves that the times they are a-chang­ing).

PUB­LIC EAVES­DROP­PING “It’s hap­pen­ing. I turn 33 next month, and my sis­ter was 30 last week. We’re get­ting old.” Woman to woman, over­heard at Western Ad­di­tion Branch Li­brary by Ber­tie Brouhard

Coyuchi, a maker of po­lit­i­cally cor­rect or­ganic linens — de­scribed by Forbes as giv­ing “lux­ury linens the ‘farm to la­bel’ treat­ment” — is hold­ing a Day Dream to Day Job Panel on Thurs­day, Dec. 6, an in­vi­ta­tion to which has ar­rived here. “Please come by and join lo­cal en­trepreneurs ... who will be shar­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences, pas­sion and strug­gles of turn­ing their day­dream into their nine-to-five hus­tle.”

For many, it may be more ap­peal­ing to turn their nine-to-five hus­tles into day­dreams. Mean­while, Ken Howard no­ticed a Marin In­de­pen­den­tJour­nal ad for Spirit Rock med­i­ta­tion cen­ter pro­mot­ing an all-day re­treat, on Sun­day, Dec. 2, dur­ing which “you will cre­ate a vi­sion for a money life that brings equa­nim­ity and pur­pose. Through guided med­i­ta­tion, writ­ing and group ex­er­cises, you will re­ceive tools and de­velop strate­gies for cre­at­ing healthy money karma. The leader of this group is Spencer Sher­man, who “be­lieves ev­ery­one can feel ease with money re­gard­less of how much we have.”

This is ei­ther an “only in Marin” item, if you think that “re­gard­less of how much we have” de­scribes a glut of money; or a “let them eat cake” item, if you think that “re­gard­less of how much we have” de­scribes poverty.

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