Dec 15, 2023
Since its launch in 2011, the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund (DFF) has supported feature-length documentaries in post-production that are distinguished by compelling stories, intriguing characters, and an innovative visual approach. DFF has distributed nearly $1 million to advance new work by filmmakers worldwide, many of whom go on to premiere at festivals like Sundance, our own San Francisco International Film Festival, Tribeca and more, as well as collect dozens of nominations and awards including the Oscars.
This year’s recipients include Efraín Mojica and Rebecca Zweig’s Milpa; Brittany Shyne’s SEEDS; Ryan Sidhoo’s The Track; and Olivier Sarbil’s Viktor.
The panel who reviewed the submissions were Jaad Asante, Manager of Documentaries, Onyx Collective; Sarvnik Kaur, director of Against the Tide; Joshua Moore, SFFILM Manager of Documentary Programs, Artist Development; and Masashi Niwano SFFILM Director of Artist Development.
“The Documentary Film Fund is one of our most competitive grants and this year we received over 350 submissions. Selecting the four recipients out of the ten remarkable finalists, proved a very difficult challenge for this year’s jury,” said Joshua Moore, Manager of Documentary Programs, Artist Development at SFFILM.
“All of these films were impressive in their own way and ultimately we believe the four recipients we selected represent exciting filmmakers at the top of their game, each giving a compelling and cinematic celebration of the underdog,” remarked the panel. “We are thrilled to award SFFILM’s Documentary Film Fund to these distinct projects and can’t wait to see them come into the world for all to see, share, and experience.”
Previous DFF winners include Sarvnik Kaur’s Against the Tide, winner of the Sundance 2023 Vérité Filmmaking Prize; Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborne’s Going Varsity in Mariachi, winner of the Sundance 2023 Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award; Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh’s Writing With Fire, which won Audience and Special Jury Awards at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival; Ljubo Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska’s Honeyland, which won a record number of juried awards at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for Academy Awards for both Best Documentary Feature and Best Foreign Language Film; RaMell Ross’ Hale County This Morning, This Evening, which won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance 2018 and was nominated for the 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and many others.
The 2023 Documentary Film Fund is made possible thanks to support from Jennifer Hymes Battat and the Jenerosity Foundation along with Katie Hall and Tom Knutsen.
Meet the 2023 Documentary Film Fund Recipients
Efraín Mojica, Director/Producer; Rebecca Zweig, Director/Producer; Sarah Strunin, Producer
At the rural rodeos in Michoacán, México, a hypermasculine tradition is rife with hidden queer encounters. In Jaripeo, director Efraín steps into the frame to follow two rancheros as they navigate desire, machismo, and mass migration from one rodeo season to the next.
Brittany Shyne, Director/Producer; Danielle Varga, Producer; Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, Executive Producer
SEEDS is a portrait of centennial farmers in the geographical south. Using lyrical black-and-white imagery, this meditative film examines the decline of generational black farmers and the significance of owning land.
Ryan Sidhoo, Director/Producer
The Track is a coming-of-age journey of three teenagers chasing their Olympic dreams in post-war Bosnia. Training on their bullet-riddled luge track left over from the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, the heart of the project is found in the relatable, sometimes humorous and exciting portrayal of friends striving for a better life despite religious strife and a murky economic future. Ultimately, the film begs the question: Where does a generation go after civil-war?
Olivier Sarbil, Director/Producer Darren Aronofsky, Producer; Dylan Golden, Producer; Brendan Naylor, Producer; Sigrid Dyekjær, Producer; Philippe Levasseur, Producer
Viktor is an intimate epic about a Ukrainian searching for purpose in a war he cannot hear.
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