Get to know the Spring 2019 SFFILM Rainin Grant finalists

Jun 5 · 4 min read

SFFILM and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation have announced the finalists for the Spring 2019 SFFILM Rainin Grant, the flagship artist development program offered by SFFILM Makers. Twelve filmmaking teams are in the running to receive funding for their narrative projects in various stages of production.

SFFILM Rainin Grant program is the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the US, and supports films that address social justice issues — the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges — in a positive and meaningful way through plot, character, theme, or setting and benefit the Bay Area filmmaking community in a professional and economic capacity.

Awards are made to multiple projects twice a year, in the spring and fall, for screenwriting, development, and post-production. In addition to a cash grant of up to $50,000, recipients are offered a 2-month residency at FilmHouse and benefit from SFFILM’s comprehensive and dynamic artist development programs.

The program is open to filmmakers from anywhere in the world who can commit to spending time developing the film in San Francisco. The fall 2019 grant cycle is now accepting applications; learn more at


Amal Waleed Alqahtani, writer/director/producer; Gina Hackett, writer; Lauren López de Victoria, producer — screenwriting Spitfire Amal returns home to Saudi Arabia insisting it’s temporary, but she’s shocked to find her once wealthy family coming apart at the seams. As her younger sister’s wedding looms, Amal stays to search for their estranged father for support in an effort to keep the pieces together.

Flash Before the Bang Jevon Whetter, writer/director; Delbert Whetter, producer — development In this funny, heartwarming and inspiring true-life tale, an underdog, ragtag Deaf track team and their checked-out coach must overcome their school’s indifference, outsiders’ low expectations, and their own self-doubts to make it to the State Track & Field Championship.

Kayla & Eddie En Français Iyabo Boyd, writer/director; Joseph Boyd, contributing writer — screenwriting Straight-laced hotel consultant Kayla Williams lands in Paris for work when her rambunctious, recovering addict father Eddie shows up unannounced, hoping to prove himself as a supportive father. Though suspicious of his sudden presence, Kayla cautiously lets Eddie back into her life as they navigate the local French African hipster scene and Paris’ Narcotics Anonymous community, unpacking years of strife and facing what it means to be a family in recovery.

A Lo-Fi Blues Ed Ntiri, writer/director; Winnie Wong, Bryan Lindsay, Jason Garcia, producers — screenwriting An aging blues musician, who believes that his late wife is trapped inside of a song, develops a unique friendship with his nephew, an aspiring lo-fi hip-hop producer in Oakland, California.

NSFW Brittney Shepherd, writer/director, producer; Katherine Craft, writer; Sinclair Swan, producer — screenwriting When a newly engaged woman’s family discovers that her fiancé is a BDSM adult performer, the couple struggles to maintain their relationships, their jobs, and their lives in the ensuing fallout.

7 Slaves Alexandre Moratto, writer/director/producer; Thayná Mantesso, writer; Ramin Bahrani, producer— screenwriting To provide a better life for his family, 17-year-old Mateus accepts a job as a manual laborer in São Paulo. When his employers force him to work for no pay and threaten his family, he becomes trapped in the violent world of modern-day slavery. As his enslavers notice his leadership capabilities, he is forced to decide between working for the very people who have enslaved him or risk his family’s safety.

Shit & Champagne D’Arcy Drollinger, writer/director/producer; Brian Benson, Michelle Moretta, producers — post-production Shit & Champagne is a high-octane, high-camp, slapstick send-up of the iconic exploitation films of the 1970s. Underneath the ridiculous comedy narrative of a stripper with a heart of gold who is forced to take the law into her own hands, is a story where outcasts find each other, where heart does emerge, and where friendship is sacred.

So Unfair Lori Webster, director; Asia Nichols, writer; Chao Thao, Twilla Amin Tanyi, and Lauren Nichols, producers — screenwriting Subverting age-old fairytales, this five-part anthology film explores Black womanhood through a forest-haired girl confined to a terrarium, a magic-pesticide cook with dreams of being her own boss, a musical sawist obsessed with severed limbs, a house sitter haunted by dancing fetuses, and a skin-bleaching actor stuck in a live-studio limbo.

Taminex Anya Meksin, writer/director; Kristie Lutz, Chanelle Elaine, and Veronica Nickel, producers — screenwriting When a deadly pandemic plunges the city into an anti-immigrant panic, a young Iranian woman must go outside official channels and venture into the underbelly of a corrupt society to procure the only drug that can save her boyfriend’s life and her own — Taminex. Taking place over one breathless night in a city on the verge of collapse, Taminex is a harrowing journey of survival that exposes the sickness of xenophobia infecting our society.

Teddy, Out of Tune Daniel Freeman, writer/director; Drew Connick, writer — screenwriting A nomadic street musician is followed by a documentarian while traveling through the western United States with his truck, his new piano, and a Tupperware container holding his mother’s ashes. With these objects, he embarks on an emotional journey to Canada that is repeatedly derailed by mental illness and an inability to cope with past trauma.

Wit Gesigte (Pale Faces) Chantel Clark, writer/director — screenwriting In the late 18th century, in the Dutch Cape Colony, the brilliant and rebellious daughter of an exiled Imam travels to the remote estate of a mysterious Dutch Commissioner to plead with him on behalf of her persecuted community. There, the dark secrets underlying the power of the colonial occupation begin to unravel.

Zana Antoneta Kastrati, writer/director; Casey Cooper Johnson, writer/producer; Sevdije Katrati, Brett Walker, and Miguel Govea, producers — post-production A Kosovar woman is sent to witch doctors to cure her infertility, but when she becomes pregnant, her wartime past comes back to torment her.


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