Aug 24, 2018
San Francisco, CA – SFFILM today announced the five winners of the 2018 SFFILM Documentary Film Fund awards totaling $125,000, which support feature-length documentaries in post-production. Created to support nonfiction films that are distinguished by compelling stories, intriguing characters and an innovative visual approach, the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund is SFFILM’s largest support program for doc makers. Jennifer Maytorena Taylor’s The Gut (working title), Ljubo Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska’s Honeyland, Liza Mandelup’s Jawline (formerly In Real Life), Hassan Fazili’s Midnight Traveler, and Jessica Kingdon’s Untitled PRC Project, were each awarded funding that will help push each project towards completion.
The SFFILM Documentary Film Fund has a track record for championing important films that in recent years, left a mark on the festival circuit and beyond. Previous winners include RaMell Ross’ Hale County, This Morning, This Evening, which won a Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival; Peter Nicks’s The Force, which won the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award for documentary and SFFILM Festival’s McBaine Bay Area Documentary Feature Award, before being released theatrically by Kino Lorber; Peter Bratt’s Dolores, which won the 2017 SFFILM Festival Audience Award for Documentary Feature following its Sundance premiere; and Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer, which won Sundance’s Directing Award for documentary and was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature; among many others.
Since its launch in 2011, the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund has distributed more than $750,000 to advance new work by filmmakers nationwide. The 2018 Documentary Film Fund is made possible thanks to support from Jennifer Battat and the Jenerosity Foundation.
The panelists who reviewed the twelve finalists’ submissions are Jennifer Battat, founder of the Jenerosity Foundation; Noah Cowan, SFFILM’s Executive Director; David Eisenberg, Senior Director of Production at ITVS; Kate Hurwitz, Manager at Cinetic Media; Lauren Kushner, Artist Development Senior Manager at SFFILM; Jenny Slattery, Associate Director of Foundations and Artist Development at SFFILM; filmmaker Sandi Tan; and Caroline von Kühn, Director of Artist Development at SFFILM.
“These five films, which came to us from around the world, capture so much about what it means to live at this particular moment in time,” remarked the jury. “We are thrilled to support filmmakers who are reflecting that world back to us with confident artistic vision and a commitment to telling the stories of these places and people with great care and integrity.”
2018 DOCUMENTARY FILM FUND WINNERS
The Gut (working title) – Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, director/producer; Jim Sabataso and Asma Bseiso, producers; Jen Bradwell and Youssif Salah, editors – $25,000
Filmed over two years in a small New England community that is struggling to emerge from the opioid epidemic and finds itself caught up in a battle over Syrian refugee resettlement, The Gut closely follows the lives of several intersecting but very different characters to explore what changes — and what doesn’t —when white, rural Americans see themselves in “the other.”
Honeyland – Ljubo Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska, co-directors; Atanas Georgiev, producer/editor – $25,000
The last female bee hunter in Europe struggles to save the bees and restore the natural balance when a family of nomadic beekeepers invade her land and threaten her livelihood. Honeyland is an exploration of an observational Indigenous visual narrative that deeply impacts our behavior towards natural resources and the human condition.
Jawline (formerly In Real Life) – Liza Mandelup, director; Bert Hamelinck, producer; Alex O’Flinn, editor – $25,000
This intimate contemplation on modern youth follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester as he flirts with the world of social media fame. Driven by a wide-eyed desire for stardom, Austyn cultivates a singularly positive online persona that’s at odds with growing up in small-town Tennessee.
Midnight Traveler – Hassan Fazili, director; Su Kim, producer; Emelie Mahdavian, producer/editor – $25,000
Midnight Traveler follows a family of Afghan filmmakers on the run from the Taliban. Told from refugee/director Hassan Fazili’s unique first-person perspective, this story provides unprecedented access to the complex refugee experience as it encounters the West.
Untitled PRC Project – Jessica Kingdon, director; Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell, producers – $25,000
Untitled PRC Project examines megatrends of today’s China through an impressionistic collage of the new “Chinese Dream.” This observational film reveals paradoxes born from prosperity of the newest world power through the flow of production, consumption, and waste.
SFFILM Documentary Film Fund grants are awarded once each year. The exact amounts of individual grants and the total number of grants are determined on an annual basis. As with all SFFILM grants, in addition to the cash awards, recipients will gain access to numerous benefits through SFFILM Makers, the organization’s comprehensive and dynamic 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 $6 million has been disbursed to more than 200 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.