The San Francisco Film Society and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced today the five winners of their 2011 Filmmaking Grants, totaling $303,000. "The grants are awarded twice annually to filmmakers for narrative feature films with social justice themes that will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community," said the organizations.

Full press release and list of winners below:

San Francisco, CA - The San Francisco Film Society and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation today announced the five winners and two honorable mentions of the fifth round of SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grants. The grants are awarded twice annually to filmmakers for narrative feature films with social justice themes that will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community. Between 2009 and 2013 the SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grants will award nearly $2.5 million, including a total of $788,000 already awarded in the first five grant rounds.

The panelists who reviewed the finalists' submissions are Jennifer Rainin, president, Kenneth Rainin Foundation; Jennie Frankel Frisbie, manager/producer, Magnet Management; George Rush, attorney and film sales agent; Michele Turnure-Salleo, director of filmmaker services, SFFS; and Steven Jenkins, acting executive director, SFFS. The panel noted, "For their fresh storytelling, innovative cinematic visions and artistic tenacity, we are pleased to recognize these filmmakers and their projects in their various stages of production. In their own idiosyncratic ways, these five winners and two honorable mentions uplift the Bay Area filmmaking community and shed light on important issues of our time."

Carlton Evans and Matthew Lessner: Ross
$50,000 for screenwriting
A hardworking young man's well-established and staid life is upended after he posts an offhand comment to his Facebook profile, drawing the attention of numerous secretive government agencies and setting off a bizarre chain of events. Forced to abandon the only life he has ever known in an instant, he finds himself in the midst of a minefield of paranoia and mistaken identity, struggling to determine who can be trusted. For more information visit

Aurora Guerrero: Mosquita y Mari
$88,000 for postproduction
The friendship between two young Chicanas develops into a tender love and challenges their well-established familial responsibilities, forcing them to choose between their obligations to others and staying true to each other. For more information visit

Adam Keker: National Park
$35,000 for screenwriting
Seven years after America and its allies defeated an alien invasion, the final battlefield is about to become a national park. The country is in a period of national soul-searching and the very few enemy aliens who were not exterminated have been released into the park in a program to save them from extinction. They are a lightning rod of controversy that threatens to become a national conflagration when hikers find the body of a child.

Timothy Kelly: The Cherokee Word for Water
$75,000 for production
A single mother moves back to Oklahoma from Oakland to raise her two daughters in her Cherokee childhood home. Deplorable conditions are driving families apart, and she resolves to find a way to help her tribe stay intact by spearheading a project to provide running water to the community. The success of the project inspires other Cherokee people to start their own community projects and launches the political career of Wilma Mankiller, who became the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. For more information visit

Benh Zeitlin: Beasts of a Southern Wild
$55,000 for postproduction
In this mythological epic inspired by the coastal erosion crisis caused by the ruination of America's wetlands, a heroic young girl fights to save her father, who has been stricken by a mysterious illness, and her rapidly sinking island home. As temperatures skyrocket and the ice caps melt, an army of ferocious prehistoric beasts, freed by the melting of the glaciers, approaches. Convinced that her father's sickness and the environmental disaster are inextricably linked, the girl sets out to find the one woman who can save them. For more information visit

Honorable Mentions
John Dilly: Rubbish, development
At 18 years of age, an unprepared orphan must leave the foster care system in which she has spent most of her life and learn to live on her own. An unexpected visit from a probate lawyer presents her with the opportunity to learn about the father she never knew and retreat to the wreck of a rural home that he has left to her, but what she really needs to do is acquire the skills to move on and fend for herself. For more information visit

Ian Olds: The Western Habit, screenwriting
An Afghan refugee who made his living as a fixer for Western journalists tries to make the complicated transition from surviving in his war-torn homeland to a new, more placid life in Northern California. Safe from the dangers of war but increasingly restless, he quits his menial job and tries to adapt his journalistic skills to coverage of local crime but runs afoul of local pot growers. Dire news from his family back home forces him to choose between returning to his familiar but dangerous life in Afghanistan or staying in America and forging a new life. For more information visit

SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grants support work by local filmmakers as well as attract projects of the highest quality to the Bay Area, providing tangible encouragement and support to meaningful projects and benefiting the local economy. In addition to a cash grant, recipients will receive various benefits through the Film Society's comprehensive and dynamic filmmaker services programs.

For more information visit