Dec 3, 2019
$225,000 in Grants Awarded to Eight 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 $225,000 in funding in the latest round of SFFILM Rainin Grants. Eight filmmaking teams were granted funding to support the next stage of their creative process, from screenwriting to post-production. SFFILM Rainin Grants are awarded twice annually to filmmakers whose narrative feature films will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community and/or meaningfully explore pressing social issues.
Applications are currently being accepted for the Spring 2020 round of SFFILM Rainin Grants; the deadline to apply is February 12. 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 Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which won a record number of juried prizes at Sundance 2019 and was just 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 Sofia Alicastro, SFFILM Artist Development Manager: Filmmaker Programs; Lauren Kushner, SFFILM Interim Director of Artist Development; Lauren McBride, film producer; Julia Nelson, Manager, Catalyst, at the Sundance Institute; Ted Russell, Associate Director, Arts Strategy & Ventures, Kenneth Rainin Foundation; and Shelley Trott, Director, Arts Strategy & Ventures, Kenneth Rainin Foundation.
The panel noted in a statement: “We were struck by this group of strong and diverse storytellers whose narratives grapple with broad cultural and historical contexts through deeply personal lenses. This particular slate of films demonstrated a dynamic exploration of identity from unique points of view and impressed us through their clear sense of passion, specificity, and thoughtfulness. From 1800s sci-fi to a dizzying philosophical inquiry into what it means to prove one’s existence, we are excited by this interesting group of makers and are thrilled that this round of grants is able to support both the projects and the artists behind them.”
FALL 2019 SFFILM RAININ GRANT WINNERS
Could I be dead and not know it?
Ilinca Calugareanu, writer/director; Mara Adina, producer – $25,000 for screenwriting
A police raid in the dead of the night and two weeks in a detention center end with Relu being deported back to his home country, where he discovers he has long been declared dead by his estranged wife. Relu abandoned everyone 20 years ago, ran away to a new land and never looked back, but now he is forced to face the consequences of his actions.
The Goddesses of Nanking
Carol Liu, writer/director/producer – $25,000 for screenwriting
Two women crusade to bring to light the Japanese wartime atrocities committed at the Rape of Nanking, but their heroic efforts come at a great personal cost.
Channing Godfrey Peoples, writer/director; Neil Creque Williams, Jeanie Igoe, James M. Johnston, Toby Halbrooks, Theresa Page, Tim Headington, producers – $50,000 for post-production
A former beauty queen turned hardworking single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the Miss Juneteenth pageant, hoping to keep her from repeating the same mistakes in life that she made.
Noche de Fuego
Tatiana Huezo, writer/director – $25,000 for post-production
Noche de Fuego depicts life in a town at war as seen through the eyes of three young girls on the path to adolescence.
One Hand Clapping
Shelly Grizim, writer/director; Deniz Buga, producer – $25,000 for screenwriting
Two women are trapped in an obsessive relationship and only through acts of hopeless revenge is their great love revealed. In this temporal loop of conflicted hearts, an Israeli woman, a Palestinian woman, and a young child form an impossible family.
Stefani Saintonge, writer/co-director/producer; Sébastien Denis, co-director/producer – $25,000 for screenwriting
It’s August 1791 in the French colony of Sainte-Domingue when a massive slave revolt erupts sparking the Haitian Revolution.
Sontenish Myers, writer/director – $25,000 for screenwriting
Set on a southern plantation in the 1800s, a young slave girl named Lena develops telekinetic powers she cannot yet control. Circumstances escalate when she is separated from her mother to be a house girl, in close quarters with the mercurial Master’s wife, Elizabeth.
Maria Victoria Ponce, writer; Vanessa Perez, producer – $25,000 for development
Set in Richmond, California, Washing Elena follows 31-year-old Indalia as she attempts to solve the mystery surrounding her best’s friend’s sudden death. To find answers, Indalia must confront the realities of her friend’s surprising conversion to Islam, leading her to challenge her own biases and lingering guilt.
SFFILM Rainin Grants are made possible by the generosity of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. In addition to funding, grant and loan recipients also receive a range of benefits through SFFILM Makers, SFFILM’s comprehensive 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 $7 million has been disbursed to more than 150 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.