Twice a year, the San Francisco Film Society and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation awards its Filmmaking Grants to promising feature films that will impact the Bay Area filmmaking community.
The organizations have whittled the field down to 14 finalists. Winners will be announced in November and at least $300,000 will be awarded to one or more of the winners. But before we take a closer look at some of the finalists, a check-in with the society is in order.
The SFFS/KRF grants, in no uncertain terms, are the engine of Bay Area filmmaking. Since the program's inception in 2009, the organizations have doled out approximately $3 million to regional filmmakers. What's more, they know how to pick 'em. Previous winner "Fruitvale Station" won prizes at Cannes and the Independent Spirit Awards, while "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was a 2013 Best Picture Oscar nominee. Not a bad track record.
Meanwhile, if you've familiarized yourself with IP's Grant Finder profile of the SFFS, you'll see its Filmmaker Grants are but one of an array that they offer Bay Area filmmakers. Other funding sources include their SFFS Documentary Film Fund, SFFS/Heart Screenwriting Grant, and the Djerassi/SFFS Screenwriting Fellowship.
Most of these finalists aren't simply concerned with "local issues." As the Rainin Foundation's website notes, Filmmaker Grants are geared toward "narrative feature films with social justice themes that benefit and uplift the Bay Area filmmaking community in a professional and economic capacity."
"Absence," for example, looks at a young Palestinian refugee who "unexpectedly becomes head of household and must sneak into Israel from the West Bank in order to earn a decent enough living to support his family."
"The Future," meanwhile, looks at Paolo, a "35-year-old single gay craftsman raised in an orphanage. His journey from the north to the south of Italy is an on-the-road story about the meaning of fatherhood and the pursuit of the future."
Of course, SFFS and the foundation aren't neglecting their Bay Area roots. "Fairyland" explores the experiences of a young girl who, after the sudden death of her mother, "is uprooted from her home and taken to San Francisco in the 1970s to be raised by her bisexual hippy father."
The envelope please...