Nov 24, 2020
Final Westridge Grant Cycle Awards $100,000 to Support US-Based Independent Filmmakers Developing Narrative Feature Screenplays
San Francisco, CA – SFFILM, in partnership with the Westridge Foundation, announced today the projects that will receive a total of $100,000 in funding in the sixth and final round of SFFILM Westridge Grants. Five filmmaking teams have been granted funding to help support the screenwriting stage of their narrative feature films.
The SFFILM Westridge Grant was launched in late 2017 under a three-year partnership designed specifically to support the screenwriting phase of narrative feature projects whose stories focus on the significant social issues and questions of our time. Providing support at this critical early stage protects filmmakers’ creative processes, and allows them the time and space to concentrate properly on crafting their story, structure, characters, and themes, and refining their projects before diving into financing, production, and beyond.
Projects that have received early support through the Westridge program are on track to be completed within the coming years. Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth, which was a winning project in the inaugural round of Westridge Grants in Spring 2018 and the first from the program to be completed, premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and was released digitally this summer to great acclaim.
“We are deeply proud of this three-year partnership with the Westridge Foundation, and its innovative approach to direct support of the filmmaking process,” said Lauren McBride, SFFILM Director of Artist Development. “All of the films we’ve funded through this program represent risks — these are not prestige projects already destined for greatness, they are the seeds of important stories that need to be nurtured into important films. We are grateful to the Rachleff family and the Westridge Foundation for their vision and generosity, and we look forward to the years to come as the remarkable artists we’ve supported together realize their visions, craft their films, and share their stories with audiences everywhere.”
The panelists who reviewed the finalists’ submissions were Sofia Alicastro, SFFILM Artist Development Manager, Filmmaker Programs; Lauren McBride, SFFILM Director of Artist Development; Huriyyah Muhammad, producer, Farewell Amor; Bryce Norbitz, Director of Scripted Programs at Tribeca Film Institute; and Shelby Rachleff, Program Manager at the Westridge Foundation.
In a statement, the jury said, “We are thrilled to assemble this sixth and final cohort of SFFILM Westridge grantees. This exciting slate showcases clear vision, boldness of voice, and a cast of compelling characters. The stories reckon with embracing the past by way of family, land, and community, and building a reimagined future. We were struck by the diversity of location, experience, and background from this eclectic and interesting group of filmmakers. We are grateful and proud to support these storytellers as they dedicate time and focus to the earliest stages of the creative process.”
FALL 2020 SFFILM WESTRIDGE GRANT WINNERS
Bing Liu, writer/director/producer; Jason Berman and Angela Lee, producers – $20,000
A Chinese American teen navigates his first romantic relationship while figuring out how to rescue his mother and half-brother from an abusive stepfather.
Frybread Face and Me
Billy Luther, writer/director/producer – $20,000
Two adolescent Navajo cousins from different worlds bond during a summer herding sheep on their grandmother’s ranch in Arizona, as they learn about their family’s past and themselves.
Galilee, Rhode Island
Christina Tucker, writer/director – $20,000
A fisherman recently released from prison falls for a drifter with a checkered past.
Robert T. Herrera, writer/director/producer – $20,000
In the industrial neighborhoods of South Texas, a Tejano oil refinery worker raises his orphaned and selectively mute 12-year-old niece. After she is discovered by national art media for painting every inch of their house pink and for showcasing prodigious creative talent, a renowned 80-year-old New York art icon and his daughter make contact. Their visit prompts the two disparate families to unearth their losses and confront their coupled futures.
Micah Ariel Watson, writer/director/producer – $20,000
When a restless dancer falls in love with an ex-offender — who appears young but was mysteriously born 150 years ago — an all-Black Kansas town, founded by former slaves, experiences a long-awaited cultural and spiritual revival.
The SFFILM Westridge Grant is part of a robust suite of funding and support initiatives facilitated by SFFILM Makers, the artist development branch of SFFILM. Additional programs include the SFFILM Rainin Grant, the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund, the FilmHouse artist residency program, and a range of fellowships and professional development opportunities. For more information, visit sffilm.org/makers.
The Westridge Foundation seeks to support individuals, organizations, institutions, and programs dedicated to promoting community and/or national social good.
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 $8 million has been disbursed to more than 250 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 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.