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More tilt ‘Sideways’

Pic dominates San Francisco crix kudos

SAN FRANCISCO — In another early indicator that it may prove to be the little film that could during kudos season, Alexander Payne’s “Sideways” made nearly a clean sweep Monday of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle awards for 2004.

The bittersweet comedy set in Santa Barbara wine country walked off with six nods for picture, director, screenplay (Payne and Jim Taylor, adapting Rex Pickett’s novel), as well as actor (Paul Giamatti), supporting actor (Thomas Haden Church) and supporting actress (Virginia Madsen).

Repping at least one break from the “Sideways” monopoly, Julie Delpy drew actress kudos for her 10-years-later turn opposite Ethan Hawke in the sequel “Before Sunset,” which both thesps co-wrote with helmer Richard Linklater.

Chosen for foreign-language feature was scenarist-director Joshua Marston’s “Maria Full of Grace,” a U.S.-Colombian co-production in Spanish. The pic that tried to swing a presidential election, Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” drew the docu nod.

The Marlon Riggs Award, which goes annually to a member of the Bay Area film community for “courage and innovation,” went to programmer Anita Monga. Her steering of the Castro Theater over 16 years has placed it among the nation’s most admired repertory cinemas.

Said prize was also an implicit slap at Ted Nasser, latest designated manager in a family that’s owned the movie palace since its 1922 origin. His abrupt sacking of Monga in November has stirred much local dissent and threats of a venue boycott.

Whether the numerous popular festivals that customarily use the Castro during each year’s course — including San Francisco Intl., Lesbian & Gay, Jewish and others — will follow the January San Francisco Film Noir Festival’s defection to other theaters remains an open question.

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