Jan 17, 2018
San Francisco, CA — Five films that have received support from SFFILM Makers, SFFILM’s suite of artist development programs, will have their world premieres at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. As the festival made its final round of feature film announcements for its January event, it was revealed that Carlos Lopez Estrada’s Blindspotting, Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men, and Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You will screen in the US Dramatic Competition; RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening will screen in the US Documentary Competition; and Jeremiah Zagar’s We the Animals will appear in the festival’s NEXT section. Funded by SFFILM grants offered in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and the Jenerosity Foundation, these exciting and diverse films are poised to make a splash at one of the country’s most important showcases for independent film.
“These five SFFILM-supported films represent such exciting new voices in independent film—from uninhibited bold artistry to nuanced unpacking of complicated systemic issues of our time-and we’re thrilled that they are premiering this week,” said Caroline von Kühn, SFFILM Director of Artist Development. “SFFILM has been championing Boots Riley’s move into filmmaking for some time, and it’s a dream to see such an ambitious, imaginative film come to fruition with a premiere at Sundance. It’s an especially exciting year for Bay Area filmmaking, with both Sorry to Bother You and Blindspotting made in Oakland just last summer. The impressive talent shown by the first-time filmmakers here and the diversity of voices telling these stories are particularly exciting for us as we head into what’s looking like a great year for film ahead.”
SFFILM Makers, SFFILM Makers provides significant financial and creative resources to independent filmmakers through a variety of grants, fellowships, residencies, and advisory services. Since 2009, more than $5 million has been disbursed to more than 150 film projects in various stages of production. Through its partnerships with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and the Westridge Foundation, SFFILM is the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the United States, dispersing nearly $1 million annually across various programs to incubate and support innovative and exceptional films. SFFILM Makers focuses on career sustainability for independent filmmakers, and its diverse initiatives offer unparalleled assistance and opportunities designed to foster creativity and shepherd important projects toward completion. Services offered by SFFILM Makers include cash grants, consultation services, project development and fiscal sponsorship, FilmHouse residencies offering free office space to filmmakers in any stage of production, and much more. For more information visit sffilm.org/makers.
SFFILM-SUPPORTED PROJECTS AT SUNDANCE 2018
US Dramatic Competition – Day One
Carlos Lopez Estrada, director; Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, writers; Keith Calder, Jess Calder, Rafael Casal, and Daveed Diggs, producers
Collin is trying to make it through his final days of probation for an infamous arrest he can’t wait to put behind him. Always by his side is his fast-talking childhood bestie, Miles, who has a knack for finding trouble. They grew up together in the notoriously rough Oakland, a.k.a. “The Town,” which has become the new trendy place to live in the rapidly gentrifying Bay Area. But when Collin’s chance for a fresh start is interrupted by a life-changing missed curfew, his friendship with Miles is forced out of its comfortable buddy-comedy existence, and the Bay boys are set on a spiraling collision course with each other. —Sundance Film Festival
· 2017 SFFILM / Time Warner Foundation Grant
· 2018 SFFILM / Rainin Outreach Grant
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
US Documentary Competition
RaMell Ross, director; Maya Krinsky, writer; Joslyn Barnes, RaMell Ross, Su Kim, producers
How does one express the reality of individuals whose public image, lives, and humanity originate in exploitation? Photographer and filmmaker RaMell Ross employs the integrity of nonfiction filmmaking and the currency of stereotypical imagery to fill in the gaps between individual black male icons. Hale County This Morning, This Evening is a lyrical innovation to the form of portraiture that boldly ruptures racist aesthetic frameworks that have historically constricted the expression of African American men on film. —Sundance Film Festival
· 2017 Documentary Film Fund grant for post-production
Monsters and Men
US Dramatic Competition
Reinaldo Marcus Green, director/writer; Elizabeth Lodge Stepp, Josh Penn, Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, and Luca Borghese, producers One night, in front of a bodega in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, Manny Ortega witnesses a white police officer wrongfully gun down a neighborhood street hustler, and Manny films the incident on his phone. Now he’s faced with a dilemma: release the video and bring unwanted exposure to himself and his family, or keep the video private and be complicit in the injustice? —Sundance Film Festival
· Fall 2017 SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grant for post-production
Sorry to Bother You
US Dramatic Competition
Boots Riley, director/writer; Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Charles King, George Rush, Jonathan Duffy, Kelly Williams, producers
Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a 30-something black telemarketer with self-esteem issues, discovers a magical selling power living inside of him. Suddenly he’s rising up the ranks to the elite team of his company, which sells heinous products and services. The upswing in Cassius’s career raises serious red flags with his brilliant girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), a sign-twirling gallery artist who is secretly a part of a Banksy-style collective called Left Eye. But the unimaginable hits the fan when Cassius meets the company’s cocaine-snorting, orgy-hosting, obnoxious, and relentlessly optimistic CEO, Steve Lift (Armie Hammer). —Sundance Film Festival
· Spring 2015 SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grant for screenwriting
· Spring 2016 SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grant for packaging
· Spring 2017 SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grant for production
· Fall 2017 SFFILM / Rainin Post-production loan
We The Animals
Jeremiah Zagar, director; Daniel Kitrosser and Jeremiah Zagar, writers; Jeremy Yaches, Christina D. King, Andrew Goldman, and Paul Mezey, producers Us three, brothers, kings inseparable. Manny, Joel, and Jonah tear their way through childhood. Their Ma and Paps have a volatile love that makes and unmakes the family many times over, leaving the boys fending for themselves. As their parents rip at one another, Manny and Joel ultimately harden and grow into versions of their father. With the triumvirate fractured, Jonah — the youngest, the dreamer —becomes increasingly aware of his desperate need to escape. Driven to the edge, Jonah embraces an imagined world all his own. —Sundance Film Festival
· Spring 2017 SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grant for post-production
SFFILM-supported films that have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in recent years include Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer; Peter Bratt’s Dolores; Peter Nicks’s The Force, which won the festival’s Directing Award for US Documentary in 2017; Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, which went on to win both the festival’s Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in the narrative category in 2013; Kat Candler’s Hellion; Jacob Kornbluth’s Inequality for All; Ira Sach’s Love is Strange; Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child; Jesse Moss’s The Overnighters; Geremy Jasper’s Patti Cake$; and Alex Smith and Andrew Smith’s Walking Out, among others.
Several SFFILM Makers grant and fellowship programs are currently accepting applications:
· SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grants: The largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the US
· SFFILM / Westridge Grants: A new narrative initiative for US-based features in the screenwriting or development phase
· SFFILM / Vulcan Productions Environmental Fellowship: A recently launched initiative for doc makers tackling environmental issues
· SFFILM / Catapult Documentary Fellowship: A program that specifically focuses on the earliest stages of documentary filmmaking
For additional information about SFFILM Makers’ support programs, 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 100,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 10,000 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.
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, nearly $5 million has been disbursed to more than 140 film projects in various stages of production. Highlights include the SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grant; 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.