Meet the New Round of Finalists for the SF Film Society and Kenneth Rainin Foundation's Filmmaking Grants

How time flies! It seems like yesterday that we profiled the 14 finalists for the San Francisco Film Society and Kenneth Rainin Foundation's Filmmaking Grants. The organizations award these grants to "promising feature films that will impact the Bay Area filmmaking community."

Well, technically speaking, it wasn't yesterday, but actually six months ago. Which brings us to today's post, examining the next round of finalists. (The organizations award the grants, which total up to $300,000, twice a year.)

As previously noted, the SFFS/KRF grants 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.

I took a closer look at the most recent round of finalists and juxtaposed them with last year's batch, with the hope that I could extract some larger themes reflecting the zeitgeist of the ever-evolving Bay Area. Here are my findings.

It was immediately evident back in October that a majority of the finalists weren't concerned with strictly "local issues," and the same can be said for this round. Patti Dombrowski, a heavyset white girl, struggles to break out of her blue collar New Jersey town and become a legitimate rap superstar in the film Patti Cake$. And in Reza and the Refugee, a "ragtag team of Middle Eastern political refugees in Holland enters the Eurovision song contest in an effort to save their friend from deportation and certain death."

If anything, it seems as if the organizations are more concerned with strong character studies and interesting (and occasionally amusing) plot lines, rather than bold political statements.

One film, however, did directly address the most pressing issue facing San Francisco residents — the dot com boom's disruptive effect of pricing out longtime locals. Joseph Talbot's The Last Black Man in San Francisco, with producer Rolla Selbak, follows Jimmie Fails, a young African American "who dreams of buying back the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Now living in the city’s last, dwindling black neighborhood with his oddball best friend, Prentice, they search for belonging in the rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind."

In addition to receiving funds, filmmakers 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 a full list of finalists click here.