Boots Riley
(l to r.) Director Boots Riley and Steven Yeun on the set of SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, an Annapurna Pictures release.

Ten indie narrative films will receive a total of $250,000 in funding in the latest round of SFFILM Rainin Grants, to support the next stage of their creative process, from screenwriting to post-production. SFFILM Rainin Grants provided by SFFILM, in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, are awarded twice annually to filmmakers whose narrative feature films will have significant economic and/or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community or meaningfully explore pressing social issues.

Applications are currently being accepted for the Fall 2018 round of SFFILM Rainin Grants; the deadline to apply is August 29. For more information visit

SFFILM, in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, is the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the United States. The SFFILM Rainin Grant program has awarded over $5 million to more than 100 projects since its inception, including Boots Riley’s indie phenomenon Sorry to Bother You, which hit theaters nationwide this month; Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men, which won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance earlier this year; Geremy Jasper’s Sundance breakthrough Patti Cake$, which closed the 2017 Cannes Director’s Fortnight program; Chloé Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me, which screened at Sundance and Cannes in 2015; Short Term 12, Destin Cretton’s sophomore feature which won both the Narrative Grand Jury Award and Audience Award at SXSW 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 Ben Zeitlin’s debut phenomenon Beasts of the Southern Wild, 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, SFFILM Executive Director; Lauren Kushner, SFFILM Senior Manager of Artist Development; Kimberly Parker, film producer; Jennifer Rainin, CEO of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation; Jenny Slattery, SFFILM Associate Director of Foundations and Artist Development; Shelby Stone, President of Production at Freedom Road Productions; and Caroline von Kühn, SFFILM Director of Artist Development.

The jury noted in a statement: “We are delighted to support these ten extraordinarily talented filmmaking teams, five of whom are filmmakers based here in the Bay Area. Each of these filmmakers is creating a rich and singular world while wrestling with essential social justice issues. We look forward to being allies and supporters to these artists as they bring this expansive range of visions to life.”


Cops and Robbers
Jinho “Piper” Ferreira, writer; Jason Michael Berman, producer (screenwriting) – $25,000
Frustrated with the lack of impact of his artistic efforts and haunted by the police killing of Oscar Grant, John “Jay” Punch decides to pay his own way through the police academy in an attempt to create change from the inside. He finds out very quickly that he’s in for the fight of his life, and the thing most likely to be changed is him.

The Huntress
Suzanne Andrews Correa, writer/director (screenwriting) – $25,000
In Ciudad Juarez, a city where violence against women goes unnoticed and unpunished, an unlikely heroine emerges to seek justice.

I’m No Longer Here
Fernando Frias, writer/director; Gerardo Gatica, Gerry Kim, and Alberto Muffelmann, producers (post-production) – $40,000
After a misunderstanding with members of a local cartel, 17-year-old Ulises Samperio is forced to migrate to the US, leaving behind what defines him most: his gang and the dance parties that he loves so much. He tries to adapt to American life, but quickly realizes that he would rather return home than confront the alienation he faces in New York.

Bassam Jarbawi, writer/director; Shrihari Sathe and Yasmine Qaddumi, producers (post-production) – $30,000
After 15 years of imprisonment, Ziad struggles to adjust to modern Palestinian life as the hero everyone hails him to be. Unable to distinguish reality from hallucination, he unravels and drives himself back to where it all began.

Sandhya Suri, writer/director; Diarmid Scrimshaw and Anna Duffield, producers (screenwriting) – $25,000
In the rural hinterlands of Northern India, a young woman police officer is drawn into a sex crime investigation steeped in prejudice and corruption. Her journey to confront the killer challenges both who she is and who she wants to become.

Sealskin Woman
Tani Ikeda, director/co-writer; A-lan Holt, co-writer (screenwriting) – $15,000
A young girl goes to live with her grandparents in Japan after her mother dies. There she discovers that the people who are supposed to protect her can’t, and she must rely on her own magic to save herself.

Shit & Champagne
D’Arcy Drollinger, writer/director, Michelle Moretta and Brian Benson, producers (screenwriting) – $25,000
Shit & Champagne is a high-octane, high-camp, slapstick send-up of the iconic exploitation films of the 1970s. The film is a tribute to female empowerment flavored with borscht belt comedy, with an original funk score, fabulous vintage-inspired fashion, and cross-gender casting.

Strange Fruit
Elizabeth Oyebode, writer (screenwriting) – $25,000
Thirty years after slavery’s end, a pugnacious Black newswoman, embarks on a life-threatening investigation into the Black lives that America contends do not matter.

Sutro Forest
Travis Matthews, writer/director; Mollye Asher, João Federici and George Rush, producers (screenwriting) – $15,000
A young homeless woman prepares to leave San Francisco for a new opportunity, but when her brother goes missing, she loses herself on a mysterious journey that puts her in mortal danger.

Todos los Cuerpos Pequeños (All Small Bodies)
Jennifer Reeder, writer/director; Laura Heberton, writer/producer (screenwriting) – $25,000
In a not-too-distant dystopian future, in the wake of a climate-change-related disaster, two nearly wild mixed-race girls with special powers named Z and Bub fight to survive along the desert ruins of the former US/Mexico border wall.

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