Narrative News: SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grant Winners Announced

SFFILM
SFFILM
Nov 21, 2017 · 7 min read

It’s an exciting time to be an independent narrative feature filmmaker in the SFFILM Makers family — in addition to the launch of the new SFFILM / Westridge Grant this week, our team has selected the winners of the Fall 2017 SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grants!

The nine winning projects split a total of $225,000 in funding to push their projects forward, with one film in the development phase, four films in screenwriting, one in production, and three in post-production. Plus, in a first under this partnership, a discretionary loan of $25,000 was awarded to Boots Riley’s film Sorry to Bother You, which is currently in the final stages of post-production.

The review panel for this round of grants were Noah Cowan, SFFILM’s Executive Director; Paul Federbush, International Director, Feature Film Program at the Sundance Institute; Shelley Trott, Director of Arts Strategy and Ventures at the Kenneth Rainin Foundation; Diana Williams, Content Strategist at Lucasfilm; Caroline von Kühn, SFFILM’s Director of Artist Development; and Lauren Kushner, SFFILM’s Senior Manager of Artist Development.

They noted: “We are proud to support these emerging filmmaking teams, many of whom are embarking upon their first feature films. The SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grants program seeks to support filmmakers who are grappling with complex social issues through compelling and inventive artistic approaches. Ranging from a tense police procedural that tells the story of a marginalized Nepali inspector to a portrait of the personal impact of San Francisco gentrification that blends romanticism with a stark realism, this group of films clearly represents that vision.”

Applications are now being accepted for the spring 2018 round of SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grants! Find out more at sffilm.org/makers.

FALL 2017 SFFILM / RAININ FILMMAKING GRANT WINNERS

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All About Nina
Eva Vives, director; Natalie Qasabian, Eric Fleischman, and Sean Tabibian producers — post-production — $25,000

Eva Vives

Just as Nina Geld’s brilliant and angry stand-up comedy kicks her career into high gear, her romantic life gets complicated, forcing her to reckon with what it means to be creative, authentic, and a woman in today’s culture.

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American Babylon
Yvan Iturriaga, writer/director — screenwriting — $12,000

Yvan Iturriaga

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American Babylon is a gripping tale of love and revolution set in the gritty streets of Oakland, California in the months leading up to 9/11.

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Fremont
Babak Jalali, writer/director; Carolina Cavalli, co-writer; Marjaneh Moghimi, producer — development — $22,000

Babak Jalali

Troubled, edgy, unconventional Donya — an Afghani translator formerly working for the US military — now spends her days writing fortunes for a Chinese fortune cookie factory in San Francisco. As she struggles to put her life back in order, in a moment of sudden revelation, she sends out a message, wrapped in a fortune cookie — an act that sends her on an odyssey of deceit, mystery, and redemption.

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Jules of Light and Dark
Daniel Laabs, writer/director; Jeff Walker, Liz Cardenas Franke, and Russell Sheaffer, producers — post-production — $25,000

Daniel Laabs

A young woman, Maya, struggles to rebuild her life after surviving a devastating car wreck with her girlfriend. The two are found and rescued by an oil worker, Freddy, who forges an unlikely friendship with Maya in this Texas-set drama.

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The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Joe Talbot, writer/director; Khaliah Neal, producer — production — $50,000

Joe Talbot

Jimmie Fails dreams of buying back the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Now living in the city’s last, dwindling Black neighborhood with his oddball best friend Prentice, he searches for belonging in the rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.

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Me, My Mom and Sharmila
Fawzia Mirza, writer/director; Terrie Samundra producer/co-writer — screenwriting — $22,000

Fawzia Mirza

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A queer, Pakistani teen, her Muslim immigrant mother, and a Bollywood heroine’s destinies intertwine in this bittersweet coming of age tale.

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Monsters and Men
Reinaldo Marcus Green, director; Josh Penn and Elizabeth Lodge Stepp. producers — post-production — $25,000

Monsters and Men is an interwoven narrative about police violence, racial profiling, and the power of perspective. The story is told in three chapters, each shifting perspective to different protagonists who are from the same Brooklyn neighborhood: first, a man who captures an act of police violence on his cellphone, then, an African-American police officer working in the precinct, and finally, a high-school baseball phenom.

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Mr. Rob
Fawaz Al-Matrouk, writer/director — screenwriting — $22,000

Fawaz Al-Matrouk

The true story of Rob Lawrie, an ex-soldier who left his family in England to help migrants at the infamous Jungle refugee camp in France. Lawrie risked everything to rescue a four-year-old girl, entrusted to him by her father, but was arrested and charged with human smuggling.

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Raja
Deepak Rauniyar, writer/director — screenwriting — $22,000

Deepak Rauniyar

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Raja is a socially-rooted police procedural, a race-against-time thriller, as well as a portrait of Nepal — a complex society on the edge of a new future.

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Sorry to Bother You
Boots Riley, writer/director; Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Charles King, George Rush, Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams, producers — post-production — $25,000 loan

Boots Riley

Sorry to Bother You tells the story of Cassius Green, a Black telemarketer who discovers a magical key to telemarketing success, propelling him into a macabre universe where he is selected to lead a species of genetically manipulated horse-people.
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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 Filmmaking Grant program has funded more than 50 projects since its inception, including Geremy Jasper’s Sundance breakthrough Patti Cake$, which closed the 2017 Cannes Director’s Fortnight program, ahead of its summer release; Alex and Andrew Smith’s Walking Out starring Matt Bomer and Josh Wiggins, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival; Chloé Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me, which screened at Sundance and Cannes in 2015; Short Term 12, Destin Cretton’s sophomore feature which won both the Narrative Grand Jury Award and Audience Award at South by Southwest 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).

For more info, visit sffilm.org/makers.

SFFILM

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SFFILM

Presenter of the SFFILM Festival, SFFILM is a year-round nonprofit organization delivering screenings & events to 100,000+ film lovers annually. www.sffilm.org

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