Nair is only Indian-origin director to win award after Satyajit Ray.
An eclectic group of cinema all-stars, including Indian American director Mira Nair, received awards from the 59th annual SFIFF, the San Francisco Film Society, on Monday.
The star -studded red carpet featured several Hollywood actors and actresses, Oscar winners, nominees, and Bay Area arts and entertainment icons, according to a press release.
Local favorite, Tony Taccone, was excited about not only working with Mira Nair on the upcoming musical run of Monsoon Wedding in the Bay Area, but also to be presenting her with the Irving M. Levin Directing Award.
“Mira Nair has brilliantly bridged American and South Asian film traditions for more than 30 years, and it is a distinct pleasure to award her with the Film Society’s highest honor for directing,” said SFFS Executive Director Noah Cowan. “I can’t think of anyone who better embodies the spirit of internationalism, independence and passionate storytelling that defines our Festival, and I can’t wait to celebrate her with a screening of one of her greatest films and to get an early look at what she’s working on next.”
Nair was born and raised in Rourkela, India and went on to study at Delhi and Harvard universities. She began as an actress before segueing to make documentaries. Her narrative feature debut, Salaam Bombay!(1988) won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. A resourceful and determined independent filmmaker who casts unknowns alongside Hollywood stars, Nair has directed Mississippi Masala (1991), The Perez Family (1995), Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996), Hysterical Blindness (2002), Vanity Fair (2004), The Namesake (2006), Amelia (2009) and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012).
The Irving M. Levin Directing Award (previously the Founder’s Directing Award) is presented each year to a master of world cinema and is given in memory of Irving M. Levin, visionary founder of the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1957. The award is made possible by Irving’s son and current SFFS board member Fred M. Levin and Fred’s wife Nancy Livingston. It was first bestowed in 1986 on iconic filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, and for many years carried his name.
The award has brought many of the world’s most visionary directors to the San Francisco International Film Festival over the years. Previous recipients are Guillermo del Toro, Mexico; Richard Linklater, USA; Philip Kaufman, USA; Kenneth Branagh, England; Oliver Stone, USA; Walter Salles, Brazil; Francis Ford Coppola, USA; Mike Leigh, England; Spike Lee, USA; Werner Herzog, Germany; Taylor Hackford, USA; Milos Forman, Czechoslovakia/USA; Robert Altman, USA; Warren Beatty, USA; Clint Eastwood, USA; Abbas Kiarostami, Iran; Arturo Ripstein, Mexico; Im Kwon-Taek, South Korea; Francesco Rosi, Italy; Arthur Penn, USA; Stanley Donen, USA; Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal; Ousmane Sembène, Senegal; Satyajit Ray, India; Marcel Carné, France; Jirí Menzel, Czechoslovakia; Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA; Robert Bresson, France; Michael Powell, England; and Akira Kurosawa, Japan.