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EXCLUSIVE: San Francisco Film Society and Kenneth Rainin Foundation Award Eight Filmmaking Grant Recipients, $340K Total in Funding

EXCLUSIVE: San Francisco Film Society and Kenneth Rainin Foundation Award Eight Filmmaking Grant Recipients, $340K Total in Funding

The San Francisco Film Society, in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, announced today the eight projects that will receive a total of $340,000 in funding — the largest amount given out to date — in the latest round of SFFS/KRF filmmaking grants.

The eight filmmaking teams have been granted funds to help with their next stage of production, from screenwriting to post. 

These grants are awarded twice annually to filmmakers with narrative feature films that have significant or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community. Recent successes Destin Daniel Cretton’s SXSW Grand Jury winner “Short Term 12” (pictured above), Ryan Coogler’s Sundance Grand Jury winner “Fruitvale Station” (previously titled “Fruitvale”) and Benh Zeitlin’s Oscar-nominated “Beasts of the Southern Wild” have all received funding from the SFFS/KRF grants.

The eight recipients are:

Jonas Carpignano, writer/director — “A Chjana” — $45,000 for

After leaving his native Burkina Faso, Ayiva makes the
perilous journey across the Sahara and Mediterranean in search of a better life
in Europe. Once in Italy, he must balance his desire to provide for his family
in Africa with the intolerance and harsh working conditions he finds in his
newly claimed home.

Jonas Caripgnano is an Italian-American filmmaker based in
Rome and Brooklyn. His short films have played at SXSW, New Directors/New Films
and Venice, where his film A Chjana won the Controcampo Award for best short.
Carpignano recently completed the Sundance Writing and Directing Labs for the
feature-length version of A Chjana, and was recently named one of Filmmaker
Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. He is currently an MFA candidate
at NYU Tisch, where he won the Martin Scorsese Young Filmmakers Award. He is
also the recipient of the Mahindra Award at Sundance.

Grainger David, writer/director — “Nocturne” (working title) —
$35,000 for screenwriting

Nocturne is the story of a white South Carolina cop on the
verge of retirement who accidentally kills a young black teenager he suspects
of a recent robbery and murder. In a moment of extreme weakness, he hides the
boy’s body in a woodshed—only to return a day later to discover it has

Grainger David is a director from Wadmalaw Island, South
Carolina. His NYU Grad Film thesis The Chair was the only American short film
nominated for the Palme D’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. The Chair also
won Jury Prizes at the SXSW, Los Angeles, and Hollyshorts Film Festivals, and
has screened at major festivals around the world, including Telluride, Hamptons
and the 63rd Berlinale. David has been awarded grants from the Tribeca Film
Institute, the Sloan Foundation, the National Board of Review and the Hollywood
Foreign Press Association.

Ian Hendrie and Jyson McLean, co-writers/directors/producers
“Mercy Road” — $40,000 for development

Based on true events, Mercy Road traces the political and
spiritual odyssey of a small town housewife as she turns from a peaceful
pro-life activist to an underground militant willing to commit violence and
murder in the name of God.

Ian Hendrie is a San Francisco–based filmmaker and the
cofounder of Fantoma, a production company and independent DVD label which has
been releasing premium edition DVDs of films by such famed auteurs as Francis
Ford Coppola, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Samuel Fuller, Fritz Lang, Kenneth
Anger and Alex Cox, among others, since 1999. Hendrie and his filmmaking
partner Jyson McLean are proud and grateful recipients of a Fall 2011 SFFS/KRF
Filmmaking Grant, SFFS FilmHouse residents, alumni of the 2013 Sundance Screenwriters
Lab, and finalists for the upcoming Sundance Directors Lab for Mercy Road.

Co-writer/director/producer Jyson McLean began making short
films in high school. He attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. His
commercials and music videos, which have aired nationally and overseas, include
spots for Bud Light, Career Builder, and Quaker Oats. He has won the ITVA PEER
award three years in a row, and has worked with numerous award winning
advertising agencies including DDB Los Angeles, BBDO London and Fred &
Farid, Paris. He is currently signed at Contagious LA and Magali Films, Paris
for commercial representation in America and Europe respectively.

Maryam Keshavarz and Paolo Marinou-Blanco, cowriters — “The
Last Harem”
— $35,000 for screenwriting

The Last Harem follows the battle between Jayran, a young
musician girl, and Malik Jahan, the mother of the newly-ascended boy-king, for
the affection of the new monarch and control of the palace’s extensive harem.
Whoever wins becomes the most powerful woman in the Persian empire…

Maryam Keshavarz received her MFA from NYU/Tisch in film
direction and has been making award-winning films for 11 years. Keshavarz’s
first narrative feature Circumstance premiered to overwhelming critical acclaim
at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and garnered the coveted Sundance Audience
Award, leading to Keshavarz’s inclusion in Deadline’s 2011 Directors to Watch.
Keshavarz’s newest film project The Last Harem, originally developed at the
Cine Qua Non Lab, won the prestigious SFFS/Hearst Screenwriting Grant and her
multimedia installation work Between Sight and Desire: Imagining the Muslim
Woman won a multi-year grant from the Creative Capital Fund.

Born in New York and raised in China, South Africa and
Portugal, Paolo Marinou-Blanco studied philosophy and theater before pursuing
an MFA in Filmmaking at NYU-Tisch. In 2007 he won funding from the Portuguese
Film Institute to write and direct his first feature, Goodnight Irene, which
premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival to much critical
acclaim, went on to travel to dozens of international festivals and was
theatrically released in Europe in 2008. Marinou-Blanco now works in the U.S.,
Europe and Brazil as a screenwriter; The Last Harem is his first collaboration
with writer/director Maryam Keshavarz.

Richard Levien, writer/director and Chad Burris, producer — “La Migra” — $20,000 for development

Twelve-year-old Itan’s life in San Francisco is turned
upside down when she comes home from school to find her apartment ransacked and
her mother missing. Suddenly she must rely on her estranged uncle Eevencio, who
she suspects is a criminal. They cross the country in Eevencio’s dilapidated
truck, through the labyrinth of immigration detention, trying to find Itan’s
mother and prevent her from being deported.

Richard Levien has been writing, directing and editing
award-winning films for 8 years. Levien’s short film Immersion, about a
ten-year-old boy from Mexico who speaks no English and struggles to fit in at
his new school in the U.S., premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2009.
Immersion won the “No Violence” award at the Ann Arbor film festival,
and the Best Bay Area short film award at the San Francisco International Film
Festival. In 2009 Levien won the inaugural San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth
Rainin Foundation Filmmaking Grant, for screenwriting on La Migra.

Films that Chad Burris produced and executive produced have
screened at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals including Sundance,
Tribeca, New Directors/New Films, Toronto, Cannes and Venice. His latest film
as producer, Aurora Guerrero’s Mosquita y Mari, premiered at the Sundance Film
Festival in 2012 and was nominated for a 2013 Independent Spirit Award. Burris
executive produced the Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me, Famke
Janssen’s directorial debut Bringing Up Bobby, Nick Cassavetes’ Yellow. He was
the last recipient of the Mark Silverman Award for New Producers from the
Sundance Institute in 2007.

Tommy Oliver, writer/director/producer — “1982” — $85,000 for

Semi-autobiographical and inspired by true events, 1982
tells the story of a black father whose wife succumbs to a crack cocaine
addiction and his efforts to shield his young daughter from the ill effects of
having a drug-addicted mother. Set at the very onset of the crack epidemic, the
film is about a father doing whatever he can to protect his family.

Tommy Oliver, producer of Kinyarwanda, a film Roger Ebert
named to his top 10 films of 2011, is a strong believer in the transformative
power of film. As a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where he double
majored in Economics and Digital Media, he developed a keen understanding for
business as a whole. In addition to the 2011 Sundance World Cinema Audience Award–winning
Kinyarwanda, Oliver has produced three films, including his directorial debut

Vendela Vida, cowriter and Eva Weber, cowriter/director — “Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name” — $35,000 for screenwriting

28-year-old Clarissa discovers on the day of her father’s
funeral that everything she believed about her life was a lie. She flees New
York and travels to the Artic Circle to find her real father, but instead is
reunited with her mother who abandoned her when Clarissa was only 14.

Vendela Vida cowrote (with Dave Eggers) the script for Away
We Go, which was directed by Sam Mendes and released by Focus Features in 2009.
Her book Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name was selected as a Notable Book
of the Year by the New York Times and was awarded the Kate Chopin Award. In
2013 Vida and Eva Weber attended the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters’ Lab
where they worked on the script for Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name;
they also received the Sundance Institute/Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award to
further develop the project.

Eva Weber’s short documentary Reindeer is a lyrical and
haunting portrait of reindeer herding in Lapland. The film screened at LAFF,
Telluride, AFI Fest and Sundance, with upcoming screenings at Sundance London and
the San Francisco International Film Festival. Weber’s multi-award-winning film
The Solitary Life of Cranes was selected as one of the top five films of the
year in Sight & Sound magazine’s annual film review. Other films include
The Intimacy of Strangers, Steel Homes, City of Cranes, and Black Out.

Josef Wladyka, cowriter/director — “Manos Sucias” — $45,000
for production

A desperate fisherman and a naive young man embark on a
dangerous journey trafficking drugs up the Pacific coast of Colombia. Hidden beneath
the waves, they tow a narco-torpedo filled with millions of dollars worth of
cocaine. Together they must brave the war-torn region while navigating the
growing tension between them.

Josef Kubota Wladyka fell in love with filmmaking in high
school. Even while pursing a B.S. in Finance he continued to make short films.
When Wladyka returned to school for his MFA in Film at NYU’s Tisch School of
the Arts, the quality of his first year work earned him a prestigious Faculty
Fellowship Award. His short films, commercials, and screenplays also garnered
the attention of director Spike Lee who named him recipient of the 2010 Spike
Lee Fellowship Award, providing research funds and mentorship for his first
feature film. Manos Sucias is his feature film debut.

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