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The Feeling of Being Watched
The Feeling of Being Watched

SFFILM has selected ten finalists for the 2017 SFFILM Documentary Film Fund which will award $125,000 to support feature-length documentaries in postproduction.

The SFFILM Documentary Film Fund is a partnership with the Jenerosity Foundation and was created to support singular nonfiction film work that is distinguished by compelling stories, intriguing characters and an innovative visual approach. Finalists were selected from more than 300 applicants, and winners will be announced in early September.

The SFFILM Documentary Film Fund has an excellent track record for championing important films that have gone on to earn great acclaim. Previous DFF winners include Peter Nicks’s The Force, which won the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award for documentary and SFFILM Festival’s Bay Area Documentary Award, and will be released this fall by Kino Lorber; Peter Bratt’s Dolores, which won the 2017 SFFILM Festival Audience Award for Documentary Feature following its Sundance premiere; Jamie Meltzer’s True Conviction, which won a Special Jury Mention for Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival; and Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer, which won Sundance’s Directing Award for documentary and was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature; among many others.

Since its launch in 2011, the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund has distributed nearly half a million dollars to advance new work by filmmakers nationwide. The 2017 Documentary Film Fund is made possible thanks to an expanded gift from the Jenerosity Foundation.


The Feeling of Being Watched
Assia Boundaoui, director/producer; Jessica Devaney, producer
When a filmmaker investigates rumors of surveillance in her Arab-American neighborhood in Chicago, she uncovers one of the largest FBI terrorism probes conducted before 9/11 and reveals its enduring impact on the community.

Hale County, This Morning, This Evening
RaMell Ross, director; Joslyn Barnes and Su Hyeon Kim, producers
What is the experience of coming-of-age in the Black Belt region of the US? This film presents the lives of two young men in a series of visual movements that replace narrative arc with orchestral form.

Heaven Through the Back Door
Anna Fitch and Banker White, co-director/producers; Sara Dosa, producer
Heaven Through the Backdoor is a contemplative documentary that tells the story of Yo (Yolanda Shae), a fiercely independent 88-year old woman whose unique brand of individualist feminism impacts how she chooses to live in the final years of her life. (Former SFFILM FilmHouse Resident)

How to Have an American Baby
Leslie Tai, director/producer; Jillian Schultz, co-producer
There is a city in Southern California that abounds with pregnant women from China. Told through multiple perspectives, How to Have an American Baby is a kaleidoscopic voyage behind the closed doors of the Chinese birth tourism industry. (SFFILM FilmHouse Resident, SFFILM fiscally sponsored filmmaker)

The Judge
Erika Cohn, director/producer; Sara Maamouri, co-producer
The Judge provides rare insight into Shari’a law (Islamic law), an often misunderstood legal framework for Muslims, told through the eyes of Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s religious courts. (SFFILM fiscally sponsored filmmaker)

El Lugar de la Memoria
Juan Pablo González, director; Makena Buchanan, Jamie Gonçalves, and Ilana Coleman, producers
As economic and social conditions become dire, a wave of suicides among young people disrupts life in a small Mexican town. Through daily rituals and ceremonies amongst the people in this community, El Lugar de la Memoriapresents a reflection on the reconfiguration of rural life in Mexico.

A Machine to Live In
Yoni Goldstein and Meredith Zielke, co-directors; Sebastian Alvarez, producer; Andrew Benz, co-producer
Hovering over what remains of Brazil’s modernist future, this film looks at how social control, rational design, and space-age architecture gave rise to a vast landscape of transcendental and mystical utopias.

Midnight Family
Luke Lorentzen, director; Kellen Quinn, producer; Daniela Alatorre,and Elena Fortes, co-producers
In Mexico City, 16-year-old Juan Ochoa struggles to legitimize his family’s unlicensed ambulance business, as corrupt police in the neighborhood begin to target this cutthroat industry.

Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan, co-director/producers; Maida Brankman, producer
Pahokee, Florida (pop. 6,094): one hour by car across Palm Beach County from the presidential opulence of Mar-a-Lago. Against a backdrop of industrial agriculture and economic isolation, high school students from different racial and cultural backgrounds forge a sense of meaning and community via elaborate and colorful rites of passage.

Pigeon Kings
Milena Pastreich, director/producer; Michael Sherman and Matthew Perniciaro, producers
Keith London, the godfather of Birmingham Rollers, and his mentee, Choo Choo, survive life in South Central LA through their dedication to somersaulting pigeons.

image via The Feeling of Being Watched

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