arts Blog

Spring 2016 Filmmaking Grants Announced

Filmmaking Grant Program Awards More Than $200,000 to Seven Projects


sffs-with-borderSan Francisco, CA — The San Francisco Film Society (SFFS), in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, announced today the projects that will receive a total of $215,000 in funding in the latest round of SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants. Seven filmmaking teams were granted funding to help with their next stage of their creative process. The Film Society’s flagship 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 $3.5 million has been awarded since the launch of the Film Society’s grant program in 2009. For more information visit

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 Ian Olds’ The Fixer, starring Dominic Rains, James Franco and Melissa Leo, which will have its world premiere in April; 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 spring; 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).

The panelists who reviewed the finalists’ submissions are Noah Cowan, SFFS Executive Director; Robert Kessel, SVP of Production at Participant Productions; Jennifer Rainin, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation; Michele Turnure-Salleo, Director of Filmmaker360; and Nina Yang Bongiovi, Producing Partner at Significant Productions.

“Each of these projects strengthens the Bay Area filmmaking community in significant ways…we are excited to support the diverse voices in our community and bring in new voices from elsewhere to join them. ”– Grant Selection Jury

“The jury was impressed by the imagination displayed by this group of winners, in the diversity in topics, styles and themes,” the jury noted in a statement. “It’s satisfying to see the reach of the SFFS / KRF Filmmaking grant increasing to attract important talent from farther afield, and the international voices represented here reflect that growth. Each of these projects strengthens the Bay Area filmmaking community in significant ways, regardless of where they are set or produced, and we are excited to support the diverse voices in our community and bring in new voices from elsewhere to join them.”

Spring 2016 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant Winners

Above – Donari Braxton, writer/director; Takeshi Fukunaga, producer – $35,000 for 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 – $35,000 for 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.

Dark Forest – Elena Greenlee, writer/director/producer; Gabriel Blanco and Marcia Mayer, producers – $25,000 for 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 – $35,000 for 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 – $25,000 for 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.

Machine Organic – Rohit Rao, writer/director; Laura Wagner, producer – $35,000 for 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.

Sorry to Bother You – Boots Riley, writer/director; Kelly Williams, Jonathan Duffy and George Rush producers – $25,000 for 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.

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

Top photo: First Match was awarded a $25,000 grant for packaging.


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