The San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) and Kenneth Rainin Foundation (KRF) have selected 15 finalists for the latest round of SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants; up to $300,000 will be awarded to one or more narrative feature film projects at various stages of production. SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants are awarded twice annually to narrative feature films that will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community. More than $2.8 million has been awarded since the launch of the Film Society’s flagship grant program in 2009. Winners of the spring 2015 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants will be announced in May.
The San Francisco Film Society, in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, is the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the United States. The SFFS / KRF program has funded more than 50 projects since its inception, including such success stories as Kat Candler’sHellion and Ira Sachs’ Love Is Strange, both of which premiered to strong reviews at Sundance 2014; Short Term 12, Destin Cretton’s sophomore feature which won both the Narrative Grand Jury Award and Audience Award at South by Southwest 2013; Ryan Coogler’s debut feature Fruitvale Station, which won the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, the Un Certain Regard Avenir Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in the narrative category at Sundance 2013; and Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin’s debut phenomenon which won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize and Cannes’ Camera d’Or in 2012 and earned four Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture).
“This was a bitterly fought review round, and we encountered so many excellent projects deserving of funding that it really put into focus the importance of support initiatives like the SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant and the need for more,” said Michele Turnure-Salleo, director of Filmmaker360. “We wish we could fund every single project on this list, and we have a difficult task ahead of us in selecting winners. From the filmmakers we’ve worked with before, to the exciting newcomers to the Film Society family, we can’t wait to see these all of these films take their next steps towards completion.”
SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants are made possible by the vision and generosity of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. In addition to being awarded funds from the country’s leading granting organization, recipients will receive various benefits through Filmmaker360, the San Francisco Film Society’s comprehensive and dynamic filmmaker services program. These benefits, customized to every individual production, can include one-on-one project consultations and project feedback, additional fundraising assistance, resource and service recommendations, and networking opportunities, among many others. For more information visit sffs.org/Filmmaker360/Grants.
SPRING 2015 SFFS / KRF FILMMAKING GRANT FINALISTS
Stella Kyriakopoulos, cowriter/director and Margaret Shin, cowriter — screenwriting
Two lovelorn cleaning ladies become friends and find hope while working on the Blue Star Ithaki, one of the fleet of ferries that shuttle myth-seeking tourists to the Greek islands. When the friends learn their Blue Star will be sold to Canada, they are forced to confront their own myths about Greece and each other.
Jessica dela Merced, writer/director — screenwriting
11-year-old Phoe enlists the help of a group of neighborhood boys to track down the culprits behind a recent string of fires in Detroit, including the one that claimed her father’s life. jessdelamerced.com
Ian Olds, writer/director and Caroline von Kuhn, producer — production
An Afghan journalist is exiled from his war-torn country to a small bohemian community in Northern California. When he attempts to turn his menial job on the local police blotter into “Afghan-style” coverage of local crime he gets drawn into the backwoods of this small town-a shadow Northern California where sex is casual, true friendship is hard to come by, and an unfamiliar form of violence burbles up all around him.
Mario Furloni and Kate McLean, co-writer/directors — screenwriting
In the last season of black market marijuana growing before legalization, a mother and a daughter must reconcile their differences in order to survive in an increasingly inhospitable world.
Sally El Hosaini, writer/director — screenwriting
When his father abandons him deep in the Guyanese jungle, the rebellious son of a narcissistic church leader discovers a new life of freedom. His utopia is soon shattered when “Dad” arrives with hundreds of followers. Driven by the universal need for a father’s love he becomes complicit in the depravity he previously rejected. Based on Stephan Jones’s true-life story.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Joseph Talbot, writer/director and Rolla Selbak, producer — preproduction
Jimmie Fails is a young African American who dreams of buying back the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Now living in the city’s last, dwindling black neighborhood with his oddball best friend, Prentice, they search for belonging in the rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. vimeo.com/97971791
The Last Prairie
Chloé Zhao, writer/director — screenwriting
A young ecologist moves to the Sandhills of Nebraska trying to stop the building of the Keystone Pipeline XL and soon finds herself caught between a small town’s fight for survival and the debate over the future habitability of our planet.
Laure de Clermont Tonnerre, writer/director — screenwriting
Roman Coleman is halfway through serving an 11-year sentence for attempted murder when he is offered the chance to participate in an ongoing rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of recently captured wild mustangs. Through his struggle to communicate with the animals, trainers, and other inmates he is forced to face his past and must learn confront his inner demons.
Travis Mathews, writer/director — production
When a first love challenges his guarded sense of what’s possible, a hot-headed young gay man with mild cerebral palsy is forced to confront the disability he’s let consume and define him. travisdmathews.com
Geremy Jasper, writer/director and Michael Gottwald, producer — preproduction
Patti Dombrowski, a heavy-set white girl, struggles to break out of her blue collar New Jersey town and become a legitimate rap superstar, all on her own terms. welcometolegs.com
Reza and the Refugee
Aaron Douglas Johnston, writer/director — screenwriting
A ragtag team of Middle Eastern political refugees in Holland enters the Eurovision song contest in an effort to save their friend from deportation and certain death.
Sorry To Bother You
Boots Riley, writer/director and George Rush, producer — screenwriting
A Black telemarketer discovers a magical way to make his voice overdubbed by a White actor, propelling him into the upper echelon of a macabre universe where he is selected to lead a species of genetically manipulated horse-people, called the Equisapiens. thisisthecoup.com
Staring at the Sun
Ryan Piers Williams, writer/director — screenwriting
After a massive solar event knocks out the world’s technological infrastructure, healthcare becomes a vital commodity. An elite group of United Nations aid workers given access to the best healthcare are tasked to isolate the sick from the healthy and privileged. When a young aid worker finds himself in a forbidden love, he must choose between a life of solitude or an uncertain fate with the woman he loves.
Untitled Whaling Project
Jesse Moss, writer/director — screenwriting
A feature-length fiction film, based on a true story, about America’s last commercial whaling vessel and its final, fateful voyage in 1971.
What Waits For Them In Darkness
Stephen Dunn, writer/director — screenwriting
11-year-old Skipper gets separated from her family during the Newfoundland resettlement and stranded alone in her floating house on the high seas of the Atlantic where reality mixes with the rich folklore of Newfoundland for a dark fantasy adventure.