$300,000 Awarded to Six Filmmaking Teams

In partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the San Francisco Film Society today announced the latest round of SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant winners. Six filmmaking teams were granted funding to help with their next stage of their creative process, from screenwriting to postproduction. SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants are awarded twice annually to filmmakers for narrative feature films that will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community. More than $2.8 million has been awarded since the launch of the program in 2009, making this joint venture between KRF & SFFS the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the United States.

The panelists who reviewed the finalists’ submissions are Noah Cowan, SFFS Executive Director; Jonathan King, Executive Vice President of Production at Participant Media; Jennifer Rainin, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation; Sue Turley, Managing Director of ro*co films; and Michele Turnure-Salleo, Director of Filmmaker360. 

“These inventive and in some cases quite edgy projects impressed us with their bold explorations into visual expression and narrative styles,” the jury noted in a statement. “They show great ambition in their global scale and their head-on approach to urgent contemporary issues, and yet remain attentive to emotional intricacy and honesty. Each film also in its own way challenges established international production frameworks and has a unique storytelling process, and we’re excited to be a supportive partner in that effort.”

Without further ado, let's meet the fall 2014 SFFS / KRF grantees:

Dark Forest – Elena Greenlee, writer/director – $35,000 for screenwriting

A hipster millennial—equally versed in neuroscience and party drugs—steps out of her depth into the complex world of Amazonian shamanism. She finds herself in the crossfire of an intense battle for power being waged in a magical dimension she's not even sure she believes in.

God Bless the Child – Robert Machoian, writer/codirector; Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, codirector; Robert Thomas, producer; Laura Heberton, producer – $60,000 for postproduction 

Five siblings spend a summer day on their own. Only the eldest—the one girl, 13—knows their mother may never be coming back, and while looking after her brothers she lets them just be little kids, drawing them closer to her as the day goes by.

More info at 433pictures.com.

Mediterranea – Jonas Carpignano, writer/director – $60,000 for postproduction

After leaving his native Burkina Faso, Ayiva makes the perilous journey across the Sahara and Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe. Once in Italy, he must balance his desire to provide for his family in Africa with the intolerance and harsh working conditions he finds in his newly claimed home. 

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Skunk – Annie Silverstein, writer/director – $35,000 for screenwriting

Long-lying tensions erupt in a small watershed town east of Houston after a sexual prank by a group of teenage boys is linked to a local girl’s suicide. 14-year-old Laney, riddled with guilt and grief over the loss of her friend, begins her own investigation which has unforeseen consequences.

More info at anniesilverstein.com.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me – Chloé Zhao, writer/director/producer – $60,000 for postproduction

Johnny, a restless Lakota teen, fights to escape his life on the reservation but soon realizes that leaving the only place he has ever known is far more complicated than he thought. 

Unexpected – Kris Swanberg, writer/director – $50,000 for postproduction

An inner-city high school teacher finds herself pregnant at the same time as one of her most promising students, and the two develop an unlikely friendship while struggling to navigate their unexpected pregnancies.

 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants are made possible by the vision and generosity of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. In addition to being awarded funds from the country’s leading granting organization, recipients will receive various benefits through Filmmaker360, the San Francisco Film Society’s comprehensive and dynamic filmmaker services program. These benefits, customized to every individual production, can include one-on-one project consultations and project feedback, additional fundraising assistance, resource and service recommendations, and networking opportunities, among many others. For more information visit sffs.org/Filmmaker360/Grants.

The SFFS / KRF program has funded more than 50 projects since its inception, including such success stories as Kat Candler’s Hellion and Ira Sachs’ Love Is Strange, both of which premiered to strong reviews at Sundance 2014; 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 Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin’s debut phenomenon which won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize and Cannes’ Camera d’Or in 2012 and earned four Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture).