Meet the winners of the 2017 SFFILM Documentary Film Fund Grants

Six compelling nonfiction film projects have been awarded 2017 Documentary Film Fund grants, which support feature-length docs in the post-production phase. This year’s fund has increased to an impressive $125,000, which will be distributed to the winning projects in early September.

Find out more about this and other filmmaking grant opportunities at sffilm.org/makers.

The panelists who reviewed the ten finalists’ submissions are Jennifer Battat, founder of the Jenerosity Foundation; Noah Cowan, SFFILM Executive Director; Caroline von Kühn, Director of Artist Development at SFFILM; Jenny Slattery, Associate Director of Foundations and Artist Development at SFFILM; and independent producer Corey Tong.
 
“We are thrilled to support these six filmmaking teams, each of which is telling an important story with boldness and passion,” the jury said in a statement. “This group of projects represents a wide range of artistic visions, subjects, and approaches to nonfiction filmmaking — from the intimate portrayal of an independent woman’s last days to an arresting journey into the surreal, futuristic city of Brasilia. We very much look forward to supporting these films as they evolve, make their way into the world, and leave their imprint on audiences, fellow filmmakers, and our collective sense of what can be achieved through the documentary form.”

The Doc Film Fund has helped several important films finish their edits in recent years, including Peter Nicks’s The Force, which won the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award for documentary and SFFILM Festival’s Bay Area Documentary Award, and will be released this fall by Kino Lorber; Peter Bratt’s Dolores, which won the 2017 SFFILM Festival Audience Award for Documentary Feature following its Sundance premiere; Jamie Meltzer’s True Conviction, which won a Special Jury Mention for Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival; and Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer, which won Sundance’s Directing Award for documentary and was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature; among many others.

Since its launch in 2011, the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund has distributed nearly half a million dollars to advance new work by filmmakers nationwide. The 2017 Documentary Film Fund is made possible thanks to an expanded gift from the Jenerosity Foundation.

2017 DOCUMENTARY FILM FUND WINNERS

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The Feeling of Being Watched
Assia Boundaoui, director/producer; Jessica Devaney, producer — $25,000

When a filmmaker investigates rumors of surveillance in her Arab-American neighborhood in Chicago, she uncovers one of the largest FBI terrorism probes conducted before 9/11 and reveals its enduring impact on the community.

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Hale County, This Morning, This Evening
RaMell Ross, director; Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim, producers — $15,000

What is the experience of coming-of-age in the Black Belt region of the US? This film presents the lives of two young men in a series of visual movements that replace narrative arc with orchestral form.

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Heaven Through the Back Door
Anna Fitch and Banker White, co-directors/producers; Sara Dosa, producer — $20,000

Heaven Through the Backdoor is a contemplative documentary that tells the story of Yo (Yolanda Shae), a fiercely independent 88-year old woman whose unique brand of individualist feminism impacts how she chooses to live in the final years of her life. (Former SFFILM FilmHouse Resident)

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How to Have an American Baby
Leslie Tai, director/producer; Jillian Schultz, co-producer — $20,000

There is a city in Southern California that abounds with pregnant women from China. Told through multiple perspectives, How to Have an American Baby is a kaleidoscopic voyage behind the closed doors of the Chinese birth tourism industry. (SFFILM FilmHouse resident; SFFILM fiscally sponsored filmmaker; Bay Area-based project)

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A Machine to Live In
Yoni Goldstein and Meredith Zielke, co-directors; Sebastian Alvarez, producer; Andrew Benz, co-producer — $20,000

Hovering over what remains of Brazil’s modernist future, this film looks at how social control, rational design, and space-age architecture gave rise to a vast landscape of transcendental and mystical utopias. (Bay Area–based project)

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Midnight Family
Luke Lorentzen, director; Kellen Quinn, producer; Daniela Alatorre and Elena Fortes, co-producers — $25,000

In Mexico City, 16-year-old Juan Ochoa struggles to legitimize his family’s unlicensed ambulance business, as corrupt police in the neighborhood begin to target this cutthroat industry.

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For more news on SFFILM grant, fellowship, and residency opportunities, visit sffilm.org/makers.

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