kumail award

Pakistani American actor Kumail Nanjiani and his writer wife Emily V. Gordon of “The Big Sick” fame will receive the Kanbar Award for Storytelling at the 2017 SFFILM Awards Night Dec. 5. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for HFA)

SFFILM, the presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, has announced that Pakistani American actor Kumail Nanjiani and his writer wife Emily V. Gordon feature among the honorees at the 2017 SFFILM Awards Night, formerly Film Society Awards Night, its annual fundraising celebration honoring achievement in filmmaking craft.

The historic 60th anniversary edition of the dinner and awards presentation event—newly positioned in the fall after decades as part of April’s San Francisco International Film Festival— will take place Dec. 5 at San Francisco, Calif.’s Palace of Fine Arts Exhibition Center.

The creative husband-wife duo will be honored with the Kanbar Award for Storytelling. The award acknowledges the critical importance that storytelling plays in the creation of outstanding films. The award is named in honor of Maurice Kanbar, a longtime member of the board of directors of SFFILM, a San Francisco film commissioner and a philanthropist with a particular interest in supporting independent filmmakers.

Nanjiani, a critically acclaimed actor, writer and comedian, recently starred in and co-wrote “The Big Sick” with his wife. The film tells the story of their real-life relationship. Produced by Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel and directed by Michael Showalter, Nanjiani stars opposite Holly Hunter, Zoe Kazan and Ray Romano in “The Big Sick.” The film premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews and was released by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate in 2017 summer.

He is also known for his co-starring role as Dinesh in the award-winning HBO comedy series, “Silicon Valley,” which won the TV Critics Choice Award for ‘Best Comedy Series’ in 2016 and has two Emmy and Golden Globe wins, as well as several Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. He will next be seen in Universal’s untitled buddy cop comedy opposite John Cena where the two play police officers who develop a grudging respect for one another.

Gordon, a former couples and family therapist, has written for “The Carmichael Show” on NBC, “Another Period” on Comedy Central, and “Crashing” on HBO, and created and produced three seasons of “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail” on Comedy Central. She is also the author of the funny but genuine self-improvement guide, “Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero.” 

Hollywood director/writer/producer Kathryn Bigelow and actress Kate Winslet are also among this year’s honorees. While Bigelow (“Detroit”) will receive the Irving M. Levin Award for Film Direction, Winslet (“Wonder Wheel”) will be honored with the Peter J. Owens Award for Acting.

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