Sep 16, 2021
$450,000 in Grants Awarded to Eighteen 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 $490,000 in funding in the latest round of SFFILM Rainin Grants along with the two recipients of the SFFILM Rainin Filmmakers with Disabilities Grant. Twenty filmmaking teams were granted funding to support the next stage of their creative process, in screenwriting and development. SFFILM Rainin Grants are awarded annually to filmmakers whose narrative feature films meaningfully explore pressing social issues and/or have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community.
The next application period for SFFILM Rainin Grants opens Spring 2022; 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 Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth, which premiered to great acclaim at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival; Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which won a record number of juried prizes at Sundance 2019 and was 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 before winning an Indie Spirit Award for Best First Feature; 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 Cullen Conley, Manager, Mosaic; Gabriel Mayer, Creative Executive, Killer Films; Lauren McBride, Artist Development Director, SFFILM; Rosa Morales, Artist Development Associate Manager: Narrative Film, SFFILM; Ted Russell, Director, Arts Strategy & Ventures, Kenneth Rainin Foundation.
The panel noted in a statement: “We were fascinated with the breadth of life experience, genre, scope, and diverse voices in this remarkable group of filmmakers, whose narratives explore personal, cultural, and historical depths of storytelling. We often see projects in which diverse identities are at the forefront, pushed as a commodity. But in this slate of films, we were impressed by how deeply the writers explore humanity first. They have demonstrated a passionate and unique points of view. We are thrilled to work WITH this talented group and are proud to support both the projects and the artists behind them.”
2021 SFFILM RAININ GRANT WINNERS
Ale and the Boxer
Alexandre Moratto, writer/director/producer; Ramin Bahrani, producer – $25,000 for screenwriting
Ale (21, Brazilian-American) and Samuel (25, Venezuelan-American), employees at a Bay Area working-class Latinx nightclub, form a powerful bond over shared trauma and embark on an intense relationship that shatters personal boundaries in this semi-autobiographical story of love, loss, addiction, and recovery.
Kurt Orderson, director – $25,000 for screenwriting
A talented but impulsive graffiti artist makes the connection between his art and ancient San rockart forms still alive in his hometown. On the journey, he takes up the calling to explore a deeper magic that exists to renew a culture made a crime. In the end, he must learn that realizing his full purpose means accepting the ultimate fate in a city designed to kill him.
Haley Elizabeth Anderson, writer/director – $25,000 for development
A stream of days that make up the life and journey of a young train-hopping graffiti writer, Coyote Boys is a contemporary odyssey through fringe communities, centered on rootless youth experiencing loss and loneliness—trying to find alternative ways of surviving 21st century America.
Lucretia Stinnette, director; Mel Jones and Darren Colston, producers – $25,000 for screenwriting
In West Oakland a young woman finds herself without a place to call home, timed out foster care, and a survivor of sexual exploitation. Without a roof over her head, and caught in a system that would rather forget her, she must not only find a way to survive, but discover who she truly is. But can she find a way forward without confronting her past?
Sean Wang, writer/director/producer – $25,000 for screenwriting
Fremont, CA. 2008. In the last month of summer before high school begins, an impressionable Taiwanese-American boy learns what his family can’t teach him: how to skate, how to flirt, and how to love your mom.
Savannah Leaf, writer/director/producer; Cody Ryder and Danielle Massie, producers – $25,000 for development
Gia, a young mother reaching the end of her third pregnancy, struggles with the uncertain future of her unborn child, her other two children having already been taken from her by Child Protective Services.
Erica Tremblay, writer/director/producer; Miciana Alise, writer – $25,000 for screenwriting
Following the disappearance of her sister, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from her white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in the hopes of keeping what’s left of their family intact.
God Help the Gayes (They’re Getting Divorced)
Huriyyah Muhammad, writer/ director/producer – $25,000 for screenwriting
As the world awaits a new ruling from the Supreme Court that could effectively reverse marriage equality, a local celebrity couple, Pam and Rosa Gaye, are thrust into the spotlight and hands of a publicity seeking marriage counselor when Rosa announces she wants a divorce.
Phillip Youmans, writer/ director- $25,000 for development
Magnolia Bloom is a story of young love and rebellion in 1960s New Orleans.
Meryam Joobeur, director/producer; Maria Gracia Turgeon, Annick Blanc
Nadim Cheikhrouha, Sarra Ben Hassen, producers – $25,000 for screenwriting
Salha, a mother gifted with prophetic dreams, lives in an isolated village in Tunisia. When her eldest son’s sudden return from Syria coincides with a series of strange disappearances in their community, Salha’s maternal love is tested and the family faces how guilt can haunt the human spirit.
Ohijee’s Past Lives
Malik Isasis, writer/director/producer – $25,000 for screenwriting
Ohijee Vati-Myers is a comic book artist. One day while in the comic book store, he meets a woman. They hit it off, and spend the rest of the day walking the city. They end up at her apartment where they spend the night together. The next morning, he awakes in his apartment with signs of never having met the woman.
Natalie Jasmine Harris, writer/director/producer; Natalie Holley, producer – $25,000 for screenwriting
For 17-year-old queer Celeste, senior year in her affluent Black community means following family tradition and becoming a debutante… but she longs for a different kind of coming out.
Vishaal Reddy, producer; Neal Ludevig, producer; Shravya Kag, creative consultant; Raj Trivedi, creative consultant – $25,000 for screenwriting
An Indian-American drag queen on the verge of stardom returns home to celebrates Diwali with his conservative parents who he hasn’t spoken to in 5 years due to his choice of profession. At this part for Diwali, his life is turned upside down when his parents surprisingly announce they have been divorced for ten years, his mother is gay, and they are selling the childhood home — causing chaos, laughs, and heartfelt drama.
Johnny Alvarez, writer, director, producer
A middle-aged gay man forges an unlikely friendship with his dead lover’s beneficiary as they’re drawn together by matters of the paranormal.
Since I Laid My Burden Down
Brontez Purnell, producer; Savannah Knoop, writer; Ro Haber, director- $25,000 for screenwriting
DeShawn is living fast and wild in a post-Utopian Oakland. Bathhouses, brawls, and endless hookups have continued well into his thirties. The night his Uncle dies, his hair turns abruptly gray, and he returns to his childhood home of Alabama for answers. DeShawn must confront the ghosts of his past, the dead men who seduced and failed him, and the firebrand women who made him in order to find peace, and finally lay his burden down.
Mary Ann Anane, writer/director
Trying to escape her current life rut, Olivia, an early-thirties Black American, finds herself foreign in Ghana caring for Irene, an animatic Ghanaian older woman with early-onset Alzheimer who’s planning her own funeral.
Tokyo For Ever
Andrés Piñeros, writer/ director; Federico Piñeros, producer – $25,000 for screenwriting
In Colombia, in a road on the slopes of an abyss in the Chicamocha canyon, Tokyo, a fourteen-year-old boy forced to work as a road mechanic, must face his conscience and responsibility for the disappearance of his younger brother, to confess to his parents the whereabouts of his corpse.
Untitled Texas Latina Project
Chelsea Hernandez, Sharon Arteaga, Lizette Barrera, Jazmin Diaz, and Iliana Sosa, writers/ directors
Five Mexican-American women across various cities in Texas attempt to forge connections in familiar spaces while their identities are challenged.
For general information visit sffilm.org
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.
For more information visit sffilm.org
This press release is available online at sffilm.org/press/releases