Each year, the Film Independent Spirit Awards honor the best in indie cinema—and right up against the Oscars, which almost always take place the following day. We are immensely proud to support a diverse array films from a diverse array of filmmakers up for awards at this year's February 27 ceremony. Of the five nominated films that we have ties to, four have received significant funding through our SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant, which backs socially-minded narrative features in all stages of production. The fifth film comes out of our FilmHouse residency program, which provides office space to filmmakers and connects them to a larger artistic and industry community through professional development workshops, networking opportunities and social (happy hour, karaoke party) events.
We are proud to associate ourselves with the below projects—all of which are truly stellar, whether they walk away with Spirit Awards or not.
Nomination: John Cassavetes Award
Director: Jennifer Phang • FilmHouse Resident project
Gwen is the ideal spokesperson for a radical new technology allowing people to overcome their "natural disadvantages" and begin life anew. But when her job and family are threatened, Gwen has decide if she will undergo the procedure herself. Advantageous navigates a dystopic near-future world to uncover what a parent is willing to sacrifice to protect their child.
God Bless the Child
Nomination: Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award
Directors: Robert Machoian, Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck • Fall 2014 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant Recipient
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.
Nominations: Best First Feature, Best Editing
Director: Josef Wladyka • Spring 2013 & Fall 2013 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant Recipient
A desperate fisherman and a naive young man embark on a dangerous journey trafficking drugs up the Pacific coast of Colombia. Hidden beneath the waves, they tow a narco-torpedo filled with millions of dollars worth of cocaine. Together they must brave the war-torn region while navigating the growing tension between them.
Nominations: Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay, Best Male Lead
Director: Jonas Carpignano • Spring 2013 & Fall 2014 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant Recipient
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.
Songs My Brothers Taught Me
Nominations: Best First Feature, Best Cinematography, Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award
Director: Chloé Zhao • Fall 2014 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant Recipient
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.
Filmmaker360 provides unparalleled assistance and opportunities including grants, prizes, development assistance and residencies for working filmmakers at all stages of their careers.
In partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the San Francisco Film Society 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; Chloé Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me, which screened at Sundance and Cannes; 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 which won Sundance's Grand Jury Prize and Cannes' Camera d'Or in 2012 and earned four Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture).