Fourteen Finalists Compete for Spring 2016 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants

We are pleased to announce the 14 finalist projects in contention for the latest round of San Francisco Film Society / Kenneth Rainin Foundation Filmmaking Grants! This spring, up to $300,000 will be awarded to one or more of these outstanding narrative feature film projects at various stages of production.

Many of these filmmakers are well known to us—a number of them have recently moved to the Bay Area to be a part of the exciting things that are happening here—and others are new to us, coming from all around the world.
— Michele Turnure-Salleo, Director of Filmmaker360

SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants are awarded twice annually to narrative feature films that will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community. More than $3 million has been awarded since the launch of the Film Society’s flagship grant program in 2009. Winners of the spring 2016 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants will be announced in March.

Above – Donari Braxton, writer/director; Takeshi Fukunaga, producer – screenwriting
In a world ravaged by uncurbed global warming, two Hassidic Jewish teenagers struggle to navigate the chaotic remains of their ultra-orthodox community, only to discover an unexpected sense of purpose when they find themselves the ringleaders in a coup to sabotage an illegal logging camp.

Bootleg – Reem Morsi, writer/director – screenwriting
A satirical dramatic comedy about a Muslim woman, in a sexually unfulfilling marriage, who discovers sexual pleasure through sex toys and decides to go back to Egypt to start an underground sex toy manufacturing business. 

Clash – Mohamed Diab, writer/director – postproduction
In the wake of the recent Egyptian military takeover, 22 people of different backgrounds and beliefs are arrested and stuck inside an over-crowded police riot truck. They constantly clash with one another, but in the face of death, must learn to reconcile their differences in order to survive.

Collisions – Richard Levien, writer/director; Chad Burris, producer – production
Twelve-year-old Itan’s promising life in San Francisco is turned upside down when she comes home from school to find her apartment ransacked and her mother missing. Itan manipulates her estranged and irresponsible uncle Evencio into taking them across the country, through the labyrinth of immigration detention, trying to find Itan’s mother and stop her deportation. 

Dark Forest – Elena Greenlee, writer/director/producer; Marcia Mayer, producer – packaging
A young neuroscientist steps out of her depth while researching applications of the psychedelic brew ayahuasca in addiction treatment. In the complex world of Amazonian shamanism, she finds herself battling against mysterious forces she neither understands nor is convinced she believes in.

Dogpatch – Rob Epstein, writer/director – screenwriting
Jake, a successful filmmaker in his 50s, lives alone in a funky Victorian in San Francisco. Jake’s lover—the love of his life—died of AIDS 25 years ago, along with all of Jake’s friends from his younger days. Jake has never quite gotten over this, nor has he ever truly dealt with his grief... that is, until the ghosts of his dead friends visit to set him free.

First Match – Olivia Newman, writer/director; Chanelle Elaine and Veronica Nickel, producers – packaging
Hardened by years in foster care, a teenage girl from Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood decides that joining the all-boys high school wrestling team is the only way back to her estranged father.

The Last Harem – Maryam Keshavarz, writer/director/producer; Paolo Marinou-Blanco, writer/producer – packaging
Set in tradition-bound 19th century Persia, The Last Harem follows the rise of Jayran, a young and rebellious cross-dressing musician, through the ranks of the Royal Harem and through her love affair with Nasir, an equally unconventional Shah. Together, they battle against societal expectations of their political and gender roles, embodied in the fierce figure of Nasir's mother.

Machine Organic – Rohit Rao, writer/director; Laura Wagner, producer – screenwriting
In a disconnected world, a woman searches for and finds a solution for human disconnection through a telepathy software called Transmission, but soon realizes that navigating human connection is more terrifying than she had ever anticipated.


Monsters and Men – Reinaldo Marcus Green, writer/director – screenwriting
The lives of three Brooklyn residents are changed irrevocably after witnessing an episode of police violence.

Moonlight – Barry Jenkins, writer/director; Adele Romanski, producer – postproduction
Moonlight tells the story of Chiron, a boy who becomes a man in tumultuous “War on Drugs” era Miami. Set in three different time periods highlighting the most pivotal moments of Chiron's fraught quarter-life, his battle with a deteriorating home life and his dawning sexuality, the film is a radical depiction of modern masculinity. 

Oh Lucy! – Atsuko Hirayanagi, writer/director/producer – screenwriting
Setsuko, a 55-year-old single office worker in Tokyo, enrolls in an unorthodox English class which requires her to take on an American persona, Lucy. Lucy awakens Setsuko’s dormant side, sparking strong emotions and possibly love. When the instructor she desires leaves Japan, Setsuko sets out for America to follow and finds her true self along the way.

Rent Girl – Bill Guttentag, director; Michelle Tea, writer; Sharon Barnes Rubinstein, producer – packaging
Working-class, queer Zoe Zuber leaves home and falls into the sex industry through a love affair with a woman who is not who she seems. Sex-positive without being didactic, edgy without being alarmist, funny and dark, Rent Girl is a complicated, realistic look at the industry and the myriad of reasons women enter it.

Sorry to Bother You – Boots Riley, writer/director; Kelly Williams, Jonathan Duffy and George Rush producers – packaging
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’s selected to lead a species of genetically manipulated horse-people, called the Equisapiens.

The San Francisco Film Society, in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, is the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the United States. The SFFS / KRF program has funded more than 50 projects since its inception, including Jonas Carpignano’s Mediterranea, which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and has created buzz all over the international festival circuit; Chloé Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me, which screened at Sundance and Cannes and will be released in theaters this fall; 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).