2022 Filmmaking Finalists Announced - Kenneth Rainin Foundation

2022 Filmmaking Finalists Announced

Collage of the 2022 SFFILM Rainin Grant Finalists' headshots

SFFILM is thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2022 SFFILM Rainin Grant, the flagship artist development program offered by SFFILM Makers in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. Twenty-eight filmmaking teams have been shortlisted as contenders to receive funding for their narrative projects at different stages of production.

The SFFILM Rainin Grant program is the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the US, and supports films that address social justice issues—the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges—in a positive and meaningful way through plot, character, theme or setting. Awards will be made to multiple projects once a year for screenwriting, development and post-production. Recipients are offered a cash grant up to $25,000 for screenwriting and development, up to $50,000 for post-production and a two-month residency at FilmHouse, SFFILM’s premier artist residency space.

The program is open to filmmakers from anywhere in the world who can commit to spending time developing the film in San Francisco. Applications will reopen in late fall.

2022 SFFILM Rainin Grant Finalists

1791 — Stefani Saintonge, Writer/Director/Producer; Sebastien Denis, Writer/Director/Producer
It’s August 1791 in French-owned Saint-Domingue—the most profitable colony in the world. A collective of enslaved workers meet in secret to plot a revolt. As the yoke of slavery takes its toll, a coerced confession reveals their plan, forcing everyone into action. This sparks the Haitian revolution and the beginning of the end of slavery.

Blue Veil — Shireen Alihaji, Writer/Director
In the wake of 9/11, Amina, a First-Gen Muslim teenager struggles with the gaze of the outside world; from surveillance to the 24-hour newscyle. Until she discovers her mother’s record collection. The songs reflect her parent’s migration stories to America, and serve as a roadmap to her identity. As music unlocks memories, Amina remembers who she is.

Cousins — Adrian Burrell, Writer/Director; Alex Bledsoe, Producer; Sue-Ellen Chitunya, Producer; Saeed Crumpler, Co-writer
Three kids from the ghettos of East Oakland are sent on a wild adventure after their favorite cousin escapes house arrest.

Dìdi (弟弟) — Sean Wang, Writer/Director/Producer; Carlos López Estrada, Producer; Kelly Marie Tran, Producer
Fremont, CA. 2008. In the last month of summer before high school begins, an impressionable 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy learns what his family can’t teach him: how to skate, how to flirt and how to love your mom.

Dreaming of Lions — Paolo Marinou-Blanco, Writer/Director/Producer
A dark surreal and satirical comedy about euthanasia. Gilda and Amadeu meet at an underground organisation that claims to help the terminally ill kill themselves painlessly for a fee, as they try to bypass the fact euthanasia is illegal. But when they discover the workshop is just a money-making scam, they take matters into their own hands and go on a wild surreal adventure to finalize their plans, falling in love along the way.

En Garde! — Jehnovah Carlisle, Writer/Director/Producer
A delinquent street dancer is discovered to be a rare fencing talent by a willing coach who is tasked with redirecting a damaged youth towards his full potential.

From Honey To Ashes — Emily Cohen Ibañez, Writer
In this psychological drama, an act of gun violence strikes a married couple in California’s Central Valley, resulting in a ripple effect involving a widow, a nanny, an unhoused woman, a high school senior and a young gang member. The microcosm of these women’s intersecting lives play out against the backdrop of a dying monarch population, an unprecedented heat wave and a magical force that binds them in a world on the brink of collapse.

Girls Will Be Girls — Shuchi Talati, Writer/Director; Richa Chadha, Producer
Sixteen-year-old Mira finds her sexy, rebellious coming-of-age hijacked by her mother who never got to come of age herself.

HIGH — Tisha Robinson-Daly, Writer/Director; Jonathan Mason, Writer/Director
In the aftermath of a freak accident, a nomadic telecom tower climber is forced to repair the connections he needs most—with his family.

In My Father’s House — Abbesi Akhamie, Writer/Director
In My Father’s House is a millennial coming-of-age drama that follows Anike, a grief-stricken woman who travels to Lagos, Nigeria after the death of her mother seeking closure from her estranged father who abandoned her over 10 years ago.

John/Juan — Charlotte Gutierrez, Writer/Director
At 15, nerdy bookworm John Lopez is “too Mexican,” for his old private school and “too white” at his new public high school. When John meets Sandra, a militant Latinx activist, he struggles to impress her, and so reinvents himself as “Juan, Super woke Latino.”

Joyride — Edwin Alexis Gómez, Writer/Director; Evelyn Angelica Martinez, Producer
Teenage sisters are enlisted by their abuelita to break her out of her senior living facility for a joyride to the Grand Canyon. On the journey, their grandmother reveals some unfinished business while newly unearthed family secrets take things to telenovela proportions.

Lady of the Lake — Randall Dottin, Writer/Director/Producer
Facing capture and execution a Sudanese activist escapes the country with her family and rebuilds her life as an immigrant in Chicago, only to have death destroy her new found comfort.

Late Spring — Yuan Yuan, Writer/Director
A Chinese factory worker travels to New York for her daughter’s eagerly anticipated college graduation, only to be thrust into a desperate search in unfamiliar territory when she learns the girl is missing.

Ovum — Cidney Hue, Writer/Director; Shunori Ramanathan, Writer/Lead actor
In a not-so-distant America, a woman is forced to watch her unborn fetus grow up over and over again before she can get a life saving abortion.

Rowdy By Nature — Morningstar Angeline, Writer/Director
After a mother disappears without a trace, her troubled daughter spirals in her search, unaware a vampire will save them both.

Ruby: Portrait of a Black Teen in an American Suburb — Raven Johnson, Writer/Director/Producer
A coming-of-age tale set during the height of Covid-19 and racial justice protests after the murder of George Floyd. Ruby: Portrait of a Black Teen in an American Suburb follows the story of Ruby, a fifteen-year-old, Liberian American teenager and a wannabe TikTok star, as she deals with the sudden breakup of her closest friendship after her best friend, Kiki, begins dating a much older man.

Santa Anita — David Liu, Writer/Director; Xin Li, Producer
As the summer of 2004 begins, a series of strange events transform the lives of three generations of Asian Americans living in the Southern California foothills—an aging heiress and art collector haunted by visions of her dead mother, an aspiring young female novelist running a neighborhood video game arcade, and a trio of teenage musicians caught in an increasingly tense dispute between two local gangs.

Signs Preceding the End of the World — Joie Estrella Horwitz, Writer/Director; Luis Gutiérrez Arias, Writer/Director
Across borders and into the Aztec underworld, Signs Preceding the End of the World is the story of a journey with no return. Adapted from the namesake novel by Yuri Herrera, the film follows Makina as she travels across the US/Mexico borderlands to find her estranged brother. Along the way, she faces the apocalyptic reality of her changing world as we are confronted with the signs that announce the end of ours.

The House Edge — Morgan Mathews, Writer/Director
When his estranged father moves back to town with a new wife and stepson during the summer break, a teenage boy has to reconcile with eerie experiences in this reimagined family.

The Parking Lot Attendant — Lino Asana, Writer/Director; Rajal Pitroda, Producer
In a tightly knit Ethiopian American community, an isolated teenager becomes entangled in the agenda of a charismatic figure who runs a mysterious empire out of his parking lot. Based on the novel by Nafkote Tamirat.

The President’s Cake — Hasan Hadi, Writer/Director
While people struggle daily to survive under sanctions in Saddam’s Iraq, nine-year-old Saeed must use his wits to gather ingredients for the mandatory cake to celebrate President Saddam Hussein’s birthday or face the consequences – prison or death.

The Stud — Matthew Puccini, Writer/Director
A pair of queer teenagers set off to sneak into the closing night of The Stud, San Francisco’s oldest gay bar.

TOKYO FOREVER — Andres Piñeros, Writer/Director; Federico Piñeros, Producer; John Chaparro, Producer
Tokyo, a Colombian teenager has to assimilate the death of his brother and his supposed responsibility in his disappearance, confronting his family and questioning our traumas as a community in the context of the Colombian conflict and post conflict.

Uncle Hiep’s Casino — Richard Van, Writer/Director; Betty Hu, Producer
Somewhere between his mother’s house and his uncle’s illegal casino, a prisoner finds a new life.

Welcome to Roswell — StormMiguel Florez, Writer/Director/Producer
A middle-aged transgender filmmaker returns to his father’s birthplace of Roswell, New Mexico to document coming out to his family. His partner’s obsession with the 1947 UFO crash takes him and his film crew in a very different direction.

What You’ll Remember — Erika Cohn, Writer/Director
A young couple struggling with homelessness fight to find a home and keep their family of six together, even when “support systems” try to break them apart.

Where is the Healer? — Tebogo Malebogo, Writer/Director/Producer
A tenacious director attempts to remake a forgotten B-movie in his own image, and Ayanda is tasked with scouting the perfect cast. She quickly gets taken on an odyssey through modern-day South Africa as she gets caught up in the tangle of people’s lives.