$200,000 in Grants Awarded to Seven Narrative Feature Projects in Various Stages of Production
San Francisco, CA – SFFILM, in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, announced today the projects that will receive a total of $200,000 in funding in the latest round of SFFILM Rainin Grants. Seven filmmaking teams were granted funding to support the next stage of their creative process, from screenwriting to post-production. SFFILM Rainin Grants are awarded twice annually to filmmakers whose narrative feature films will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community and/or meaningfully explore pressing social issues.
Applications are currently being accepted for the Fall 2019 round of SFFILM Rainin Grants; the deadline to apply is July 31. For more information visit sffilm.org/makers.
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 Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which won a record number of juried prizes at Sundance 2019 and was just released in theaters nationwide by A24; Nijla Mu’min’s Jinn, which won a Special Jury Award at SXSW 2018 following its premiere there; Boots Riley’s indie breakthrough Sorry to Bother You, which had a successful release last summer through Annapurna Pictures; Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men, which won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance 2018; 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 Kate Hurwitz, Acquisitions Executive, Cinetic Media; Lauren Kushner, SFFILM Senior Manager of Artist Development; Geoff Quan, Physical Production Executive, Netflix; Shelley Trott, Director, Arts Strategy & Ventures, Kenneth Rainin Foundation; and Caroline von Kühn, SFFILM Director of Artist Development.
The jury noted in a statement: “We are excited to be supporting another strong slate of narrative films that uniquely and creatively explore urgent issues of social justice through different lenses, including several novel approaches to genre, anthology, and accessibility. While each of the projects is distinct in terms of story, point-of-view, and artistic exploration, we are struck that all have taken on a deeply collaborative approach to storytelling—incorporating family members, creative partners, and community alliances throughout their filmmaking process to tell vibrant, complex, authentic stories that will resonate deeply with audiences.”
SPRING 2019 SFFILM RAININ GRANT WINNERS
Flash Before the Bang
Jevon Whetter, writer/director; Delbert Whetter, producer — $25,000 for development
In this funny, heartwarming and inspiring true-life tale, an underdog, ragtag Deaf track team and their checked-out coach must overcome their school’s indifference, outsiders’ low expectations, and their own self-doubts to make it to the State Track & Field Championship.
Kayla & Eddie En Français
Iyabo Boyd, writer/director; Joseph Boyd, contributing writer — $25,000 for screenwriting
Straight-laced hotel consultant Kayla Williams lands in Paris for work when her rambunctious, recovering addict father Eddie shows up unannounced, hoping to prove himself as a supportive father. Though suspicious of his sudden presence, Kayla cautiously lets Eddie back into her life as they navigate the local French African hipster scene and Paris’ Narcotics Anonymous community, unpacking years of strife and facing what it means to be a family in recovery.
A Lo-Fi Blues
Ed Ntiri, writer/director; Winnie Wong, Bryan Lindsay, Jason Garcia, producers — $25,000 for screenwriting
An aging blues musician, who believes that his late wife is trapped inside of a song, develops a unique friendship with his nephew, an aspiring lo-fi hip-hop producer in Oakland, California.
Alexandre Moratto, writer/director/producer; Thayná Mantesso, writer; Ramin Bahrani, producer— $25,000 for screenwriting
To provide a better life for his family, 17-year-old Mateus accepts a job as a manual laborer in São Paulo. When his employers force him to work for no pay and threaten his family, he becomes trapped in the violent world of modern-day slavery. As his enslavers notice his leadership capabilities, he is forced to decide between working for the very people who have enslaved him or risk his family’s safety.
Shit & Champagne
D’Arcy Drollinger, writer/director/producer; Brian Benson, Michelle Moretta, producers —$25,000 for post-production
Shit & Champagne is a high-octane, high-camp, slapstick send-up of the iconic exploitation films of the 1970s. Underneath the ridiculous comedy narrative of a stripper with a heart of gold who is forced to take the law into her own hands, is a story where outcasts find each other, where heart does emerge, and where friendship is sacred.
Lori Webster, director; Asia Nichols, writer; Chao Thao, Twilla Amin Tanyi, and Lauren Nichols, producers — $25,000 for screenwriting
Subverting age-old fairytales, this five-part anthology film explores Black womanhood through a forest-haired girl confined to a terrarium, a magic-pesticide cook with dreams of being her own boss, a musical sawist obsessed with severed limbs, a house sitter haunted by dancing fetuses, and a skin-bleaching actor stuck in a live-studio limbo.
Antoneta Kastrati, writer/director; Casey Cooper Johnson, writer/producer; Sevdije Katrati, Brett Walker, and Miguel Govea, producers — $50,000 for post-production
A Kosovar woman is sent to witch doctors to cure her infertility, but when she becomes pregnant, her wartime past comes back to torment her.
SFFILM Rainin Grants are made possible by the generosity of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. In addition to funding, grant and loan recipients also receive a range of benefits through SFFILM Makers, SFFILM’s comprehensive artist development program. These benefits, customized to every individual production, can include one-on-one project consultations, creative development, additional fundraising assistance, resource and service recommendations, and networking opportunities, among many others. For more information visit sffilm.org/makers.
SFFILM Makers (formerly “Filmmaker360”), the organization’s artist development program, provides significant financial and creative resources to independent filmmakers through grants, fellowships, residencies, fiscal sponsorship, and more. Since 2009, over $7 million has been disbursed to more than 150 film projects in various stages of production. Highlights include the SFFILM Rainin Grant and the SFFILM Westridge Grant, which together distribute the most nonprofit funding for narrative features in the United States; a joint effort with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to cultivate stories rooted in science and technology; and the Documentary Film Fund, a partnership with the Jenerosity Foundation. For more information, visit sffilm.org/makers.
SFFILM is a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM is a year-round organization delivering screenings and events to more than 75,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 12,000 students and teachers annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services. For more information visit sffilm.org.