Spring 2015 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant Winners Announced

TRAVIS MATHEWS, current FilmHouse resident and writer/director of Oscillate Wildly; Photo by Erin Lubin

TRAVIS MATHEWS, current FilmHouse resident and writer/director of Oscillate Wildly; Photo by Erin Lubin

We are proud to announce this spring's round of SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant winners! This prize — totaling $300,000 — will assist eight filmmaking teams with the next stages of their creative processes, which range from screenwriting to production. Since the launch of the Film Society’s grant program in 2009, more than $3 million has been awarded through our filmmaker services initiatives.

The panelists who reviewed the finalists’ submissions for this spring 2105 round are Noah Cowan, SFFS Executive Director; Jonathan Marlow, Chief Content Officer at Fandor; Jennifer Rainin, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation; Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Women in Film; and Michele Turnure-Salleo, Director of Filmmaker360.

We are particularly excited about the mix of international stories in these projects, which demonstrates the power of the SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant to touch communities all over the world and connect them to the creativity of the Bay Area
— Jury Statement

“The talent on display with this group of winning projects is an inspiration, and we are proud to support such innovative and important projects,” the jury noted in a statement. “We are particularly excited about the mix of international stories in these projects, which demonstrates the power of the SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant to touch communities all over the world and connect them to the creativity of the Bay Area. The growing number of SFFS / KRF supported filmmakers that are based outside the United States represents a significant step forward for the program.”

Without further ado, let's meet this spring's round of grantees.

The Fixer – Ian Olds, co-writer/director; Paul Felten, co-writer; Caroline von Kuhn, producer – $75,000 for production
An Afghan journalist is exiled from his war-torn country to a small bohemian community in Northern California. When he attempts to turn his menial job on the local police blotter into “Afghan-style” coverage of local crime he gets drawn into the backwoods of this small town—a shadow Northern California where sex is casual, true friendship is hard to come by, and an unfamiliar form of violence burbles up all around him.

Jones – Sally El Hosaini, writer/director – $25,000 for screenwriting
When his father abandons him deep in the Guyanese jungle, the rebellious son of a narcissistic church leader discovers a new life of freedom. His utopia is soon shattered when “Dad” arrives with hundreds of followers. Driven by the universal need for a father’s love he becomes complicit in the depravity he previously rejected. Based on Stephan Jones’s true-life story.

Oscillate Wildly – Travis Mathews, writer/director; Andrew Carlberg, Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams, producers – $75,000 for production
When a first love challenges his guarded sense of what’s possible, a hot-headed young gay man with mild cerebral palsy is forced to confront the disability he’s let consume and define him.

Mustang – Laure de Clermont Tonnerre, writer/director – $25,000 for screenwriting                                 Roman Coleman is halfway through serving an 11-year sentence for attempted murder when he is offered the chance to participate in an ongoing rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of recently captured wild mustangs. Through his struggle to communicate with the animals, trainers, and other inmates he is forced to face his past and must learn confront his inner demons

Reza and the Refugees – Aaron Douglas Johnston, writer/director; Charlotte Scott-Wilson, Trent Scott-Wilson and Laura Wagner, producers – $25,000 for screenwriting
A ragtag team of Middle Eastern political refugees in Holland enters the Eurovision song contest in an effort to save their friend from deportation and certain death.

Sorry To Bother You – Boots Riley, writer/director; Jonathan Duffy, George Rush and Kelly Williams, producers – $25,000 for screenwriting
A Black telemarketer discovers a magical way to make his voice overdubbed by a White actor, propelling him into the upper echelon of a macabre universe where he is selected to lead a species of genetically manipulated horse-people, called the Equisapiens.

Staring at the Sun – Ryan Piers Williams, writer/director; Jason Michael Berman, America Ferrera and Caroline Kaplan, producers – $25,000 for screenwriting
After a massive solar event knocks out the world’s technological infrastructure, healthcare becomes a vital commodity. An elite group of United Nations aid workers given access to the best healthcare are tasked to isolate the sick from the healthy and privileged. When a young aid worker finds himself in a forbidden love, he must choose between a life of solitude or an uncertain fate with the woman he loves.     

What Waits For Them In Darkness – Stephen Dunn, writer/director – $25,000 for screenwriting
11-year-old Skipper gets separated from her family during the Newfoundland resettlement and stranded alone in her floating house on the high seas of the Atlantic where reality mixes with the rich folklore of Newfoundland for a dark fantasy adventure.


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.