Oct 22, 2021
Formerly with Center for Asian American Media, Niwano Joins the SFFILM Makers Team to Lead Filmmaker Grant and Residency Programs
San Francisco, CA – SFFILM announced today a major addition to the organization’s leadership roster, with Masashi Niwano joining as Director of Artist Development, effective October 25. Niwano will lead the team elevating and supporting filmmakers from around the world in both fiction and non-fiction realms through direct artist grants, fellowships, residencies, and tailored mentorship. Under the banner of SFFILM Makers, he will help to advance the health and diversity of the independent film arena with a focus on the vibrant community of filmmakers in the Bay Area.
“I am thrilled to welcome Masashi, who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to SFFILM. He is a thoughtful champion for emerging voices and a passionate advocate for building connection and community with and among filmmakers,” said SFFILM Executive Director Anne Lai. “We look forward to having his invaluable perspective on our commitment to the regional and national film landscapes.”
“SFFILM is truly the gem of the San Francisco Bay Area film scene, and I’m so honored to join them,” said Niwano. “I look forward to collaborating directly with filmmakers to accomplish their visions and dreams, and have their work seen all over the world.”
For over a decade, Masashi Niwano was the Festival & Exhibitions Director at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), the US’s largest media arts organization that amplifies Asian and Asian American storytelling. Prior to his time with CAAM, he was the Executive Director of the Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF). He is a Bay Area native who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Film Production from San Francisco State University.
Masashi has been a jury member or panelist at dozens of prestigious festivals including Sundance Institute, The Gotham (formerly IFP), International Development Association (IDA), New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) and FRAMELINE LGBTQ+ Film Festival. He has also participated in various industry conversations with leading media entities including AT&T, XFINITY, WarnerMedia, and HBO. He is an active advisory board member for Firelight Media’s William Greaves Fund. Masashi’s life mission is to support the diverse media-making community, especially filmmakers from historically under-served communities.
He has been featured on NPR, CBS Sunday Morning, SF Chronicle, Deadline, and Colorlines. He lives in San Francisco with his partner and adorable cat, Morvey. In his spare time, he enjoys sewing bow ties, tending to his veggie garden, and cooking Japanese-inspired dishes.
SFFILM Makers, SFFILM’s artist development program, provides significant strategic and creative resources to independent filmmakers through grants, fellowships, residencies, and individual consultations. Since 2009, over $8.5 million has been disbursed to more than 250 feature projects. SFFILM’s suite of grants include the SFFILM Rainin Grant and several programs in partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; and the Documentary Film Fund, a partnership with the Jenerosity Foundation.
Notable narrative films and filmmakers that have received support from SFFILM Makers include Rainin Grant recipients Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth, Fernando Frias’ I’m No Longer Here, Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Nia DaCosta’s Little Woods, Nijla Mu’min’s Jinn, and Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station. Supported documentary features include Documentary Film Fund recipients CJ Hunt’s The Neutral Ground, Assia Boundaoui’s The Feeling of Being Watched, Ljubo Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska’s Honeyland, Liza Mandelup’s Jawline, Luke Lorentzen’s Midnight Family, and RaMell Ross’ Hale County This Morning, This Evening
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 15,000 students, teachers, and families 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.