'Wind' propels Kurosawa honor

SAN FRANCISCO — Winding down toward Thursday’s closing-night stint with Ethan Hawke and “Hamlet,” the San Francisco Intl. Film Festival posted a busy second weekend with in-person tributes to Abbas Kiarostami and localite Winona Ryder.

Sunday afternoon’s presentation of the Akira Kurosawa Award for lifetime achievement to Kiarostami underlined the particularly strong following that his films, and new Iranian cinema in general, have developed in the Bay Area. Honoree received a standing ovation from an adoring, packed aud before the screening of his latest feature, “The Wind Will Carry Us.”

Ryder received the Peter J. Owens nod — for “an actor whose work exemplifies brilliance, independence and integrity” — from her “Heathers” helmer and fellow S.F. resident Michael Michael Lehmann at Friday’s evening trib.

Fest’s first weekend, following an opening night launch with Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides,” saw erstwhile MGM “Million Dollar Mermaid” Esther Williams take the Castro stage on Sunday for an eye-popping Technicolor reel of highlights from her over-the-top 1940s-50s musical spectaculars.

Thursday brings helmer Philip Haas to town with USA Pictures’ imminent period drama “Up in the Villa.” Other sold-out shows include Lions Gate summer release “Jesus’ Son,” first-ever Nepalese feature “The Mask of Desire,” local docu preem “Live Nude Girls, UNITE!,” a screening of Alan Rudolph’s “Trixie” with thesp Dermot Mulroney present, a trib to veteran animator Faith Hubley and New Yorker Films’ Gallic pickups “Voyages” and “Beau Travail.” TBA slots have been filled with additional screenings of Russian period piece “Barracks,” plus 11th-hour bookings of Strand Releasing’s Chinese feature “Suzhou River” and Italo feature “Not of This World.”

The Skyy Prize, a juried $10,000 award to a freshman or soph feature-narrative effort, will be announced Thursday, prior to closing Castro unspool of Michael Almereyda’s Miramax-produced, Gotham-set “Hamlet” update.

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