The San Francisco Film Society has announced the finalists for its 2015 Documentary Film Fund, with awards totaling more than $75,000 going towards feature-length documentaries in post-production. Of the 11 final docs in contention, 7 are directed or co-directed by a female filmmaker. Finalists were selected from a pool of over 300 applicants. Launched in 2011 to support singular nonfiction film work defined by interesting stories and characters and inventive visual approaches, the SFFS Documentary Film Fund has awarded more than $375,000 over the years.
“The quality of the work we saw in this round of applicants for the Documentary Film Fund is inspiring, and it was extremely difficult narrowing the field to 11 considering that so many of the projects we reviewed are absolutely deserving of funding,” said Michele-Turnure Salleo, director of Filmmaker360, the Film Society’s filmmaker services program. “The diversity of subjects in this group of finalists, and the creativity displayed in their approaches to visual storytelling, reflects the impressive strength of the work that was submitted this year. Not only do these projects tackle extremely relevant, contemporary topics, but they also employ innovative aesthetic styles and remarkable cinematic approaches that caught the attention of the reviewers. We simply can’t wait to see these finished films, and we look forward to their premieres in the months to come.”
Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson’s “American Promise” is a former SFFS winner. The documentary premiered at Sundance in 2013 and was recognized with the festival’s Special Jury Prize in the documentary category.
See below for a list of the 7 final features in contention that are directed or co-directed by a woman. Plot summaries are courtesy of the SFFS.
Forever Pure — Maya Zinshtein, director; Geoff Arbourne, producer
In January 2014, a secretive transfer deal transported two Muslim players to the heart of Israel to join the Beitar Jerusalem Football Club, leading to the most controversial public response in Israeli sports history. Closely following one season and a team in crisis, this film explores the structures of money and power behind this landmark event that sent the club spiraling out of control.
Forty Panes — Laura Dunn, director
Forty Panes is a cinematic portrait of the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of industrial agriculture, as seen through the mind’s eye of farmer and novelist Wendell Berry. The film revolves around the divergent stories of several residents of Henry County, Kentucky, each of whom face difficult choices that will dramatically reshape their relationship with the land and their community. For more information visit fortypanes.com.
Infanity — Ramona Diaz, director
Infanity is set in the Philippines — the 12th most populous country in the world as well as one of the poorest — and explores its struggles with reproductive health policy, as seen in the legislature, where the laws are debated, and in a hospital with the busiest maternity ward on the planet. For more information visit cinediaz.com.
Liyana — Aaron Kopp and Amanda Kopp, codirectors
In this genre-bending documentary, a talented group of children in Swaziland create a fictional heroine and send her on a dangerous quest. For more information visit liyanathemovie.com.
Selling Our Daughters — Dave Adams and Josie Swantek, codirectors; Susan MacLaury, producer
Selling Our Daughters explores the dark side of child advocacy. A mystery unfolds as the film follows three Thai girls whose parents have allegedly sold them into sex work, only to discover that this story is a lie fabricated by the advocate who supposedly rescued them.
Uncertain — Ewan McNichol and Anna Sandilands, codirectors
Uncertain is a southern gothic tale set on the Texas / Louisiana border in a town called Uncertain, population 94. As the town struggles to survive, three men battle their demons in search of forgiveness and redemption. For more information visit uncertainfilm.com.
Very Semi-Serious — Leah Wolchok, director
Very Semi-Serious takes an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at a cultural icon — the 89-year-old New Yorker cartoon — and uncovers the process and personalities who bring the art form to life. Guided by Bob Mankoff, the magazine’s incisive cartoon editor, the film introduces the past, present and future generations of cartoonists who collectively answer the question that has agitated readers for decades: what does a New Yorkercartoon really mean? For more information visit verysemiserious.com.