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Black Filmmakers You Should Know Included on List of Fall 2015 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants Finalists

Black Filmmakers You Should Know Included on List of Fall 2015 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants Finalists

The San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) and Kenneth Rainin Foundation (KRF) have selected 14 finalists for the latest round of the bi-annual SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants which will award up to $300,000 to one or more narrative feature film projects at various stages of production.

SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants are awarded to narrative feature films that will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community. More than $3 million has been awarded to over 50 projects since the launch of the flagship grant program in 2009. Winners of the fall 2015 SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants will be announced in November. 

“There is an impressively wide range of stories being told among this amazing group of finalists, and it’s going to be a particularly difficult process choosing our winners,” said Michele Turnure-Salleo, director of Filmmaker360. “These are all filmmakers to watch, and we can’t wait to get involved more deeply with these exciting projects.”

Of note, given this blog’s specific interests, names of filmmakers and projects readers of this blog will already be familiar with: “A Ciambra,” Jonas Carpignano’s follow-up to his 2015 LUX Film Prize contender, the immigrant tale “Mediterranea;” “Chasing Greatness,” Chris Bailey’s scripted feature film on NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury; Anthony Onah’s “Dara Ju” (a feature film expansion of his award-winning short film of the same name); “Little Woods” from Nia DaCosta (she was also selected for the 2015 Sundance Institute – Time Warner Foundation Fellowship Program earlier this year); “Rogue” by Mark Kindred (Reinaldo Marcus Green producing), which was also a 2015 Sundance Screenwriters Lab fellow; and Malik Vitthal’s “Your Face in Mine” (his feature debut, “Imperial Dreams” stars John Boyega, and will likely be released early next year to take advantage of Boyega’s “Star Wars” hype).

The full list of finalists follows below:

– “A Ciambra”
Jonas Carpignano, writer/director; Jon Coplon and Ryan Zacarias, producer — packaging
Pio is a young Romani boy living in southern Italy who must decide how far he is willing to go to keep his family together and repay his brothers debt aciambra.com.

– “AWOL”
Deb Shoval, writer/director; Jessica Caldwell and L.A. Teodosio, producers  — postproduction
Joey, 18, falls hard for Rayna, 27, a sexy, married mother of two. Threatened by Rayna’s husband, fired from her job at the local dairy and without many economic opportunities, Joey reluctantly joins the Army. Days before deployment to Afghanistan and still wildly in love, she returns home to rural Pennsylvania and plans to go AWOL with Rayna and her kids facebook.com/AWOL.movie.

– “Chasing Greatness”
Chris Bailey, writer/director — screenwriting
Chasing Greatness is the story of NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury, who finds redemption halfway across the globe after suffering tragedy off the court.

– “Dara Ju”
Anthony Onah, writer/director; Justin Begnaud, producer — postproduction 
A young Nigerian American financier struggles with love, family and a prescription drug dependency as his ambitions steer him down a criminal path anthonyonah.com.

– “The Fixer”
Ian Olds, writer/director; Caroline von Kuhn, producer — postproduction
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 fixerthefilm.com.

– “Freeland”
Mario Furloni and Kate McLean, cowriter/directors; Laura Heberton, producer — packaging
In the last season of black market marijuana growing before legalization, a mother and daughter must reconcile their differences in order to survive in an increasingly inhospitable world.

– “Little Woods”
Nia DaCosta, writer/director/producer; Rachael Fung, producer — packaging
Ollie sneaks into Canada to get medication for her terminally ill mother and other residents in her overwhelmed oil boomtown. She is caught and forced to stop her illegal business, even though it means leaving the people she aids with no better options. When her estranged sister Deb asks for her help, Ollie has to decide whether or not it’s worth it to help her when it will put both of their lives at risk niadacosta.com.

– “The Lusty” (working title)
Silas Howard, writer/director; Antonia Crane, cowriter; L.A. Teodosio, producer — screenwriting
In San Francisco in the late 1990s, an army of strippers at the Lusty Lady confront dangerous labor practices and go on to create the first exotic dancers’ union in the world. Based on a true story silashoward.com.

– “Ma/ddy”
Devon Kirkpatrick, writer/director — screenwriting 
In this dark comedy, life after death takes on a whole new meaning for a genderqueer widow following the loss of their wife maddyfilm.com.

– “Over The Eaves”
Brent Green, writer/director; Thyra Heder, cowriter; Carly Hugo, Matt Parker and Alexandra Pitz, producers — preproduction
A young boy living on a farm begins inventing strange, hand-made machines to ease the family’s hard labor, but his ambitions quickly grow. When his most daring invention backfires and changes life on Earth forever, the townspeople struggle to understand whether he has done them harm or shown them what they have been missing nervousfilms.com.

– “Reza and the Refugees”
Aaron Douglass Johnston, writer/director/producer; Laura Wagner, producer — packaging
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.

– “Rogue”
Mark Kindred, writer/director; Reinaldo Marcus Green, producer — packaging
An ex-cop gone rogue wages “asymmetric and unconventional warfare” on the corrupt police force that fired him, resulting in the biggest manhunt in California’s history. Inspired by true events roguefeaturefilm.com.

– “These Animals”
Vivian Tse, writer/director — screenwriting
The story of an astronaut’s last year spent on Earth, as she prepares to crew the first manned mission to Mars. It’s a one-way trip.

– “Your Face in Mine”
Malik Vitthal, writer/director; Ismet Prcic, cowriter — screenwriting
In the near future, a broken man struggles to find a way to love himself again, and agrees to help an old acquaintance who has undergone “racial reassignment surgery” to tell his story, a task that turns out to be bigger and more complicated than he anticipated. 

SFFS / KRF Filmmaking Grants are made possible by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. In addition to being awarded funds from the country’s leading granting organization, 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.

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