Meet the SFFILM-Supported filmmakers headed to Sundance 2019

Sundance is coming! Sundance is coming! This is always a particularly exciting time of year for the SFFILM Makers team, as several of the films they’ve helped shepherd into existence are on their way to Utah for their snowy premieres. This year, a record SEVEN projects supported by SFFILM grants and development services will be going to Park City for their debuts, kicking off their journey to reach audiences worldwide.
“These seven SFFILM-supported films perfectly capture both the organization’s legacy and our recent expansions, from our decade-long relationship with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and our documentary initiative with the Jenerosity Foundation, to our newly launched partnership with the Dolby Institute,” said Caroline von Kühn, SFFILM Director of Artist Development. “This slate also speaks to our deepening commitment to supporting nonfiction filmmakers and is emblematic of the shift we’ve seen in the artistry and caliber of documentary films nationally and internationally. From the filmmakers and stories that started here in the Bay Area to those from around the world, SFFILM is honored to continue supporting these original independent voices.”


World Cinema Documentary Competition
(Macedonia) Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, co-directors; Atanas Georgiev, producer
When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.
2018 SFFILM Documentary Film Fund grant for post-production

US Documentary Competition
(USA) Liza Mandelup, director; Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Hannah Reyer, producers
The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.​
2018 SFFILM Documentary Film Fund grant for post-production

The Last Black Man in San Francisco​​
US Dramatic Competition
(USA) Joe Talbot, director; Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, writers; Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh, Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot, producers
Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. ​Cast: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover.
— Fall 2015 SFFILM Rainin Grant for screenwriting
— Fall 2016 SFFILM Rainin Grant for development
— Fall 2017 SFFILM Rainin Grant for production

Midnight Family​​
US Documentary Competition
(Mexico/USA) Luke Lorentzen, director; Kellen Quinn, Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes, producers
In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.
— 2017 SFFILM Documentary Film Fund grant for post-production

Midnight Traveler​
World Cinema Documentary Competition
(USA/Qatar/United Kingdom/Canada) Hassan Fazili, director; Emelie Mahdavian, writer; Emelie Mahdavian, Su Kim, producers
When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing their uncertain journey, Fazili shows firsthand the dangers facing refugees seeking asylum and the love shared between a family on the run.
— 2018 SFFILM Documentary Film Fund grant for post-production

The Mustang
(USA) Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, director; Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Mona Fastvold, Brock Norman Brock, writers; Alain Goldman, producer
While participating in a rehabilitation program training wild mustangs, a convict at first struggles to connect with the horses and his fellow inmates, but learns to confront his violent past as he soothes an especially feisty horse. Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Connie Britton, Bruce Dern, Jason Mitchell, Gideon Adlon, Josh Stewart.
 —Spring 2015 SFFILM Rainin Grant for screenwriting

The Sound of Silence​​
US Dramatic Competition
(USA) Michael Tyburski, director; Ben Nabors, Michael Tyburski, writers; Ben Nabors, Michael Prall, Tariq Merhab, Charlie Scully, Mandy Tagger Brockey, Adi Ezroni, producers
A successful “house tuner” in New York City, who calibrates the sound in people’s homes in order to adjust their moods, meets a client with a problem he can’t solve. ​Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Rashida Jones, Tony Revolori, Austin Pendleton.
— 2018 SFFILM Dolby Fellowship

Other SFFILM–supported films that have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in recent years include Carlos Lopez Estrada’s Blindspotting; Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer; Peter Bratt’s Dolores; Peter Nicks’s The Force, which won the festival’s Directing Award for U.S. Documentary in 2017; Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, which went on to win both the festival’s Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in the narrative category in 2013; RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening; Jacob Kornbluth’s Inequality for All; Ira Sach’s Love is Strange; Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men; Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child; Jesse Moss’s The Overnighters; Geremy Jasper’s Patti Cake$; Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You; and Jeremy Zagar’s We the Animals, among others.

Find out more about the grants, residencies, and fellowships offered by SFFILM Makers here.