NikiCaro's drama Whale Rider and Alexander Roqozhkin's Russian anti-war comedy The Cuckoo tied for first place in lastnight's (May 1) Virginmega Audience Awards at the 46th San FranciscoInternational Film Festival.

Runner-up wentto Chen Kaige's rites-of-passage Chinese drama Together. Best documentary feature went to HeartOf The Sea: Kapolioka'Ehukai, a profile of the pioneering Americansurfer, with the runner-up award going to Drowned Out, about the controversial Narwada Riverdam in India.

MarkDecenaís romantic comedy Dopamine was the closing night screening at theevent, which opened on Apr 17 with Alan Rudolphís The Secret Lives OfDentists.

In the GoldenGate Awards ceremony on Apr 30, Jose Henrique Fonseca's drama Man OfThe Year won the juriedSkyy prize for first narrative feature.

The Braziliandirector's film about a man's fateful decision to dye his hair wasone of the highlights of the festival, which this year drew a record breaking95,000 visitors, up 5% on the previous year.

Other highlightsincluded panel discussions on film-making and post-production and a DustinHoffman retrospective and on-stage interview. Hoffman received the Peter JOwens Award and Robert Altman collected the Lifetime Achievement Award inDirecting.

The Golden GateAward for documentary feature went to Sam Green and Bill Siegel's TheWeather Underground,about the eponymous Vietnam-era protest group. The film-makers were awarded$5,000 and a Final Cut Pro System courtesy of Apple.

Skyy Vodkalaunched the Skyy Prize in 1997 to demonstrate its support for the SanFrancisco International Film Festival and independent film-makers.

The company iscurrently seeking applications for the first Skyy Vodka Short Film Project, inwhich finalists have three days to make a five-minute film based on the samescript.

Entrants need tosubmit a videotaped pitch outlining why they want to direct and citing theirfavourite director. Three finalists will be chosen in July to make five-minuteshorts that will be judged by a panel of industry professionals.