Amy Adams, Steve McQueen, & Boots Riley Honored At SFFILM Awards

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Amy Adams
Amy Adams

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Earlier this week, the Palace of Fine Arts was dotted with pink globe lights leading guests into the newly renovated exhibition hall for SFFILM’s annual awards night. The event raised over $700,000 for the organization’s education programs. Directors Steve McQueen and Boots Riley and actress Amy Adams were the evening’s honorees.

A bird's eye view of the event in full swing
A bird’s eye view of the event in full swing

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

The night began with a cocktail reception promptly at 6 p.m. Chic guests—in sequin dresses or luxe suits—mingled while sipping craft cocktails in the cavernous space. The lively crowd was so engaged in chatting and enjoying drinks that the staff had some difficulty getting everyone to take their seats at the long tables for the main event. The program started with a showing of a sizzle real of highlights from the stars’ respective careers.

Heidi Fisher, Noah Cowan and Sonya Yu
Heidi Fisher, Noah Cowan and Sonya Yu

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

SFFILM’s executive director Noah Cowan was the first to take to the stage. “Thank you for all for being with us, to support SFFILM’s efforts to inspire a new generation of filmmakers to tell the story of our collective future,” Cowan said. “Big thank you to our entire board of directors for their unwavering support of our shared vision in SF film and thank you, yeah, amazing group.” Each of the celebrities received a different award presented by a colleague.

Steve McQueen and Michelle Rodriguez
Steve McQueen and Michelle Rodriguez

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Actress Michelle Rodriguez, who stars in his film Widows, presented McQueen with the Irving M. Levin Award for film direction. “Steve McQueen. What a wonderful creature. Your eyes penetrate. They see past facades, straight into the humanity of the person in front of you. I only know this because I watched you do it to Viola [Davis], I watched you do it to Elizabeth [Debicki], to Cynthia [Erivo],” Rodriquez said. “It’s as if when you look at people, you see with your heart, and that is a beautiful quality in an artist. It allows them to see past good and evil into the humanity of a person and that’s how you tell your stories. That’s how you compose your films.” McQueen was humbled by her words and said that being a director is “about we, it’s not about me, it’s about we. Understanding what people want so they can bring their talent in to tell a wider broader story. It’s about respect. So often you get in situations where people are disrespectful to one another, and I’ve had my share, that’s for sure. It’s about us because we’re making art. And the thing about art, it has a life of its own. We don’t own it; we are only here to provide a platform.”

Katie Traina and Jack Calhoun
Katie Traina and Jack Calhoun

Photo Credit: Devlin Shand for Drew Altizer Photography

Next, Christie’s Andrew Lick led a round of fund-a-filmmaker. Tablets on each table allowed party goers to generously and discreetly donate as much to the cause as they wanted. As $500 and $1000 donations rolled in, Dede Wilsey dropped a $25,000 donation—and the crowd roared. Dinner was enjoyed throughout the ceremony. McCalls’ catering team served a deliciously crisp green salad with roast squash, Point Reyes blue cheese, heirloom radishes, and green goddess dressing followed by melt-in-your-mouth leek-crusted salmon with celery root puree. Dessert was a decadent chocolate cranberry orange pillow.   

Boots Riley and Ishmael Reed
Boots Riley and Ishmael Reed

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Poet Ishmael Reed awarded Boots Riley with the Kanbar Award for storytelling, specifically for the movie, Sorry to Bother You. Reed described Riley as “an original” who “will guide a younger generation making fresh cinematic territory.” Riley professed his thanks to SFFILM’s team who encouraged him to make the transition from writing music to directing films. “Right now is a particular time where we need stories where we show people possibilities,” Riley said in his acceptance speech. “For too many years people have edited out real things that are going on in the world that actually could lead us to answers of building a movement of actually changing things and changing the system that we live in.”

The awards ceremony
The awards ceremony

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Adam McKay, one of the producers of Vice, gave Adams, who stars in the film, the Peter J. Owens Award for acting. He praised Adams versatility and her capability to change the course of a movie. “She is so talented,” he said. “She’s a dancer, she’s a singer, she’s funny, she can improvise, she’s beautiful, she’s charming, but she chose the road of an artist, and for that, I’m incredibly thankful.” Adams felt honored to be in the company of McQueen and Riley and discussed fear.

Charlotte Winton, John O'Rourke and Kirsten Strobel
Charlotte Winton, John O’Rourke and Kirsten Strobel

Photo Credit: Devlin Shand for Drew Altizer Photography

“I am a person who has a very close relationship with fear, but I’ve had the great fortune to work alongside many amazing individuals who inspire me to step outside of my fear and to embrace the risks of truth,” she said. “I have a wonderful team of people that work with me that encourage me and encourage me to embrace my truth and most of all, my family, which is the thing that keeps me balanced in truth.” When the program concluded, the celebrities chatted with local luminaries like Katie and Todd Traina and the event chairs Heidi Fisher and Sonya Yu.

Trent Norris and Jack Calhoun
Trent Norris and Jack Calhoun

Photo Credit: Andrew Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Michelle Rodriguez
Michelle Rodriguez

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Julia Millay Walsh and Dede Wilsey
Julia Millay Walsh and Dede Wilsey

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

John C. Reilly
John C. Reilly

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Gwyneth Borden and Maria Barrios
Gwyneth Borden and Maria Barrios

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Boots Riley, Amy Adams and Steve McQueen
Boots Riley, Amy Adams and Steve McQueen

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Malin Giddings and Jean Lu
Malin Giddings and Jean Lu

Photo Credit: Devlin Shand forDrew Altizer Photography

Jill Hamer, Dagmar Dolby and Kyle Hamer
Jill Hamer, Dagmar Dolby and Kyle Hamer

Photo Credit: Andrew Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Helen McEvoy and Nion McEvoy
Helen McEvoy and Nion McEvoy

Photo Credit: Andrew Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Todd Traina, Katie Traina, Liza Cannata and Joey Cannata
Todd Traina, Katie Traina, Liza Cannata and Joey Cannata

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Alexandra Wells, Spencer Wells and Amy Glass
Alexandra Wells, Spencer Wells and Amy Glass

Photo Credit: Devlin Shand for Drew Altizer Photography

Erik Moore and Anisha Padamshi
Erik Moore and Anisha Padamshi

Photo Credit: Andrew Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Amy Adams
Amy Adams

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Lisa Zabelle
Lisa Zabelle

Photo Credit: Andrew Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

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