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SFFS/KRF $300,000 Filmmaking Grant Finalists Include Some Intriguing Feature Film Projects…

SFFS/KRF $300,000 Filmmaking Grant Finalists Include Some Intriguing Feature Film Projects...

The San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) and Kenneth Rainin Foundation (KRF) have announced the 15 finalists narrative feature film projects (at various stages of production) selected for the latest round of SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants of up to $300,000.

Of most interest to this blog, given its stated mission, are:

– In the “Screenwriting” category, “Sorry To Bother You” from writer/director Boots Riley, and producer George Rush, which tells the unique and intriguing (based on the synopsis) story of “a Black telemarketer who 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 is selected to lead a species of genetically manipulated horse-people, called the Equisapiens.” Mr Riley is the frontman for the hip hop group The Coup (thisisthecoup.com).

– In “Preproduction,” writer/director Joseph Talbot’s “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” with producer Rolla Selbak, which follows a 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.” This makes me immediately think of Barry Jenkins’ feature film debut, “Medicine for Melancholy. Not quite the same story, but I’d expect similar conversations about gentrification and race, from a uniquely San Francisco Bay area POV. Check out a preview of the film below, and continue reading after:

– And also in “Preproduction,” writer/director Geremy Jasper’s “Patti Cake$,” with Michael Gottwald as producer. The story: Patti Dombrowski, a heavy-set white girl, struggles to break out of her blue collar New Jersey town and become a legitimate rap superstar, all on her own terms.

The rest of the finalists follow below.

In addition to being awarded funds, 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 sffs.org/Filmmaker360/Grants.

The SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants are awarded twice annually to narrative feature films that will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community. More than $2.8 million has been awarded since the launch of the Film Society’s flagship grant program in 2009, funding more than 50 projects, including such critical darlings you’ll be immediately familiar with, like Ryan Coogler’s debut feature “Fruitvale Station,” Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and others.

Here’s the full list of the Spring 2015 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grant Finalists.

“Blustar” – Stella Kyriakopoulos, cowriter/director and Margaret Shin, cowriter – screenwriting

Two lovelorn cleaning ladies become friends and find hope while working on the Blue Star Ithaki, one of the fleet of ferries that shuttle myth-seeking tourists to the Greek islands. When the friends learn their Blue Star will be sold to Canada, they are forced to confront their own myths about Greece and each other.

“Chickenshit” – Jessica dela Merced, writer/director – screenwriting

11-year-old Phoe enlists the help of a group of neighborhood boys to track down the culprits behind a recent string of fires in Detroit, including the one that claimed her father’s life.

“The Fixer” – Ian Olds, writer/director and Caroline von Kuhn, producer – production

An Afghan journalist is exiled from his war-torn country to a small bohemian community in Northern California. When he attempts to turn his menial job on the local police blotter into “Afghan-style” coverage of local crime he gets drawn into the backwoods of this small town—a shadow Northern California where sex is casual, true friendship is hard to come by, and an unfamiliar form of violence burbles up all around him.

“Freeland” – Mario Furloni and Kate McLean, co-writer/directors – screenwriting

In the last season of black market marijuana growing before legalization, a mother and a daughter must reconcile their differences in order to survive in an increasingly inhospitable world.

“Jones” – Sally El Hosaini, writer/director – screenwriting

When his father abandons him deep in the Guyanese jungle, the rebellious son of a narcissistic church leader discovers a new life of freedom. His utopia is soon shattered when “Dad” arrives with hundreds of followers. Driven by the universal need for a father’s love he becomes complicit in the depravity he previously rejected. Based on Stephan Jones’s true-life story.

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” – Joseph Talbot, writer/director and Rolla Selbak, producer – preproduction

Jimmie Fails is 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.

“The Last Prairie” – Chloé Zhao, writer/director – screenwriting

A young ecologist moves to the Sandhills of Nebraska trying to stop the building of the Keystone Pipeline XL and soon finds herself caught between a small town’s fight for survival and the debate over the future habitability of our planet.

“Mustang” – Laure de Clermont Tonnerre, writer/director – screenwriting

Roman Coleman is halfway through serving an 11-year sentence for attempted murder when he is offered the chance to participate in an ongoing rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of recently captured wild mustangs. Through his struggle to communicate with the animals, trainers, and other inmates he is forced to face his past and must learn confront his inner demons.

“Oscillate Wildly” – Travis Mathews, writer/director – production

When a first love challenges his guarded sense of what’s possible, a hot-headed young gay man with mild cerebral palsy is forced to confront the disability he’s let consume and define him.

“Patti Cake$” – Geremy Jasper, writer/director and Michael Gottwald, producer – preproduction

Patti Dombrowski, a heavy-set white girl, struggles to break out of her blue collar New Jersey town and become a legitimate rap superstar, all on her own terms.

“Reza and the Refugee” – Aaron Douglas Johnston, writer/director – screenwriting

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.

“Sorry To Bother You” – Boots Riley, writer/director and George Rush, producer – screenwriting

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 is selected to lead a species of genetically manipulated horse-people, called the Equisapiens.

“Staring at the Sun” – Ryan Piers Williams, writer/director – screenwriting

After a massive solar event knocks out the world’s technological infrastructure, healthcare becomes a vital commodity. An elite group of United Nations aid workers given access to the best healthcare are tasked to isolate the sick from the healthy and privileged. When a young aid worker finds himself in a forbidden love, he must choose between a life of solitude or an uncertain fate with the woman he loves.

“Untitled Whaling Project” – Jesse Moss, writer/director – screenwriting

A feature-length fiction film, based on a true story, about America’s last commercial whaling vessel and its final, fateful voyage in 1971.

“What Waits For Them In Darkness” – Stephen Dunn, writer/director – screenwriting

11-year-old Skipper gets separated from her family during the Newfoundland resettlement and stranded alone in her floating house on the high seas of the Atlantic where reality mixes with the rich folklore of Newfoundland for a dark fantasy adventure.

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