Walking Out
Matt Bomer and Josh Wiggins appear in Walking Out by Alex Smith and Andrew Smith, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. © 2016 Sundance Institute | photo by Standa Honzik.

Six filmmaking teams will receive a total of $335,000 in funding in the latest round of Fall 2016 San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) / Kenneth Rainin Foundation (KRF) Filmmaking Grants, to help with the next stage of their creative process, from screenwriting to postproduction, The Film Society’s flagship SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants are awarded twice annually to filmmakers for narrative feature films that will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community. More than $3.5 million has been awarded since the launch of this grant program in 2009, making the Film Society, in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the largest granting body for independent narrative films in the United States. For more information visit sffs.org.

The SFFS / KRF program has funded more than 50 projects since its inception, including Ian Olds’ Burn Country, starring Dominic Rains, James Franco and Melissa Leo, which won Best Actor at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and is being released December 9 through Samuel Goldwyn; Jonas Carpignano’s Mediterranea, which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and has created buzz all over the international festival circuit; Chloé Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me, which screened at Sundance and Cannes and will be released in theaters this spring; 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).

The panelists who reviewed the finalists’ submissions are Noah Cowan, SF Film Society Executive Director; Blye Faust, producer and partner at Rocklin | Faust; George Rush, entertainment attorney and film producer; Shelley Trott, Director of Arts Strategy and Ventures at the Kenneth Rainin Foundation; and Michele Turnure-Salleo, former director of the Film Society’s filmmaker services programs.

The jury noted in a statement: “We were deeply impressed by both the breadth of subject matter and range of genres represented in this finalist round. The work of Bay Area-based filmmakers was especially original in its approach to social justice themes, a trend we heartily applaud. It’s going to be a great pleasure following these projects on their journey to the big screen, and we’re proud to support each of them.”


Jess de la Merced, writer/director; Jon Coplon, producer
$25,000 for packaging
With the help of a ragtag group of boys, 11-year-old Phoenix sets out on a dangerous mission to save her Detroit neighborhood from arsonists and to prove herself to her father.

Richard Levien (SF Film Society FilmHouse Resident), writer/director; Frazer Bradshaw and Vincent Cortez, producers
$85,000 for production, $50,000 for postproduction
Twelve-year-old Itan’s promising life in San Francisco is turned upside down when she comes home from school with her six-year-old brother to find her apartment ransacked and her mother missing. Suddenly she must rely on her estranged uncle, a big rig truck driver, to drive them across the country, find Itan’s mother, and stop her deportation.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Joe Talbot (SF Film Society FilmHouse Resident), writer/director; Carlton Evans and Khaliah Neal, producers
$25,000 for packaging
Jimmie Fails 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, he must search for belonging in the rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.

Yared Zeleke, writer/director
$25,000 for screenwriting
Running away from arms traffickers, a group of girls get lost deep in the southern Ethiopian wilderness until they encounter an unknown tribe. When riches are accidentally found in the remote region, the girls must choose between fulfilling their dreams or rescuing the tribe that once saved them.

Nikole Beckwith, writer/director; Anthony Brandonisio, producer
$75,000 for production
When a young loner is hired as the gestational surrogate for a single middle-aged man, the two navigate their sudden awkward intimacy the best they can. Most of the time.

Walking Out
Andrew Smith (SF Film Society FilmHouse Resident) and Alex Smith, co-writer/directors; Brunson Green and Laura Ivey, producers
$50,000 for postproduction
A teenage urbanite travels to rural Montana to go hunting with his estranged “off-the-grid” father. As they ascend into the wilderness, father and son struggle to connect on any level. When an unexpected encounter with a grizzly bear leaves them both with serious injuries, the boy must carry his father to safety if they are to survive. World premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2017.

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