Now in its sixth year, the San Fransisco Film Society (SFFS) and Kenneth Rainn Foundation (KRF) have announced the 14 finalists who are contending for the $300,000 grant which is awarded to one or more narrative feature projects in the Bay Area. Former winners include Kat Candler’s “Hellion,” Ira Sach’s “Love is Strange,” Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” and Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
“We are particularly excited by the increasingly international pool of applicants for our flagship grant program, and by the fact that more than half of our finalists in this round are women,” said Michelle Turnure-Salleo, director of Filmmaker360, the Film Society’s filmmaker services program.
The participants are completing their respective projects and will wait until November to find out the winner. Learn more about the filmmakers and their projects below, courtesy of the press release:
“Absence” — Cherien Dabis, writer/director/producer — screenwriting
A young Palestinian refugee who unexpectedly becomes head of household must sneak into Israel from the West Bank in order to earn a decent enough living to support his family. It’s there, where he’s confronted daily with the enemy, that he must come to terms with his own anger or face the same fate as his father.
“Dark Forest” — Elena Greenlee, writer/director — screenwriter
A hipster millennial—equally versed in neuroscience and party drugs—steps out of her depths into the complex world of Amazonian shamanism. She finds herself in the crossfire of an intense battle for power being waged in a magical dimension she’s not even sure she believes in.
“Everything Else (Todo Lo Demás)” — Natalia Almada–writer/director/producer — production
Doña Flor awakens to find her cat dead at the foot of her bed. Denying the loss of her sole companion, she continues her routine as she has for the past 35 years, donning her grey skirt and practical heels and taking the women’s subway car to work in Mexico City. Memories are unleashed from the morning’s tragedy as old wounds begin to bleed and she recalls the drowning of her child.
“Fairyland” — Andrew Durham, writer/director — screenwriting
After the sudden death of her mother, a young girl is uprooted from her home and taken to San Francisco in the 1970s to be raised by her bisexual hippy father. Inhabited by poets, artists and drag queens, her free-spirited upbringing feels like a fairytale, until she reaches adolescence and begins to question the environment in which she was raised and some of the choices her father made.
“Five Nights in Maine” — Maris Curran, writer/director, producer; Carly Hugo, producer — post-production
A young African American man, reeling from the tragic loss of his wife, travels to rural Maine to seek answers from his estranged mother-in-law, who is herself confronting guilt and grief over her daughter’s death.
“The Future” — Fabio Mollo, writer/director — screenwriting
Paolo is a 35-year-old single gay craftsman raised in an orphanage. His journey from the north to the south of Italy is an on-the-road story about the meaning of fatherhood and the pursuit of the future.
“God Bless the Child” — Robert Machoian, writer/co-director; Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, co-director; Robert Thomas, producer; Laura Heberton, producer — post-production
Five siblings spend a summer day on their own. Only the eldest—the one girl, 13—knows their mother may never be coming back, and while looking after her brothers she lets them just be little kids, drawing them closer to herself as the day goes by.
“Mediterranea” — Jonas Carpignano, writer/director — post-production
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.
“The Messenger” — Marilia Hughes, co-writer/director; Cláudio Marques, co-writer/director — screenwriting
As an official of the justice system, Iris, 27 years old, is responsible for transmitting what is mostly bad news. The young woman tries to keep her distance from people, but violence makes Iris experience a feeling of revolt that she has previously tried to ignore.
“Morris From America” — Chad Hartigan, writer/director; Sara Murphy, producer — screenwriting
Morris is a 13-year-old, overweight, African American living in Heidelberg, Germany with his father, Curtis. The kids there make fun of him for being fat, for being black and for being American so he’s having a difficult entrance into adolescence. That is until he meets 14-year-old Katrin, and immediately falls head over heels in love. As they strike up an odd friendship, Morris pulls further away from Curtis, but closer to accepting himself as he is.
“Radio Dreams” — Babak Jalali, writer/director; Marjaneh Moghimi, producer — production
A brilliant and misunderstood Iranian musician lands in San Francisco to pursue his lifelong dream of recording with Metallica, while a mysterious beautiful woman takes over his radio show.
“Skunk” — Annie Silverstein, writer/director — screenwriting
Long-lying tensions erupt in a small watershed town east of Houston after a sexual prank by a group of teenage boys is linked to a local girl’s suicide. 14-year-old Laney, riddled with guilt and grief over the loss of her friend, begins her own investigation which has unforeseen consequences.
“Songs My Brother Taught Me” — Chloe Zaho, writer/director/producer — post-production
Johnny, a restless Lakota teen, fights to escape his life on the reservation but soon realizes that it’s far more complicated than he thought to leave the only place he has ever known.
“Unexpected“ — Kris Swanberg, writer/director — post-production
An inner-city high school teacher discovers she is pregnant at the same time as one of her most promising students, and the two develop an unlikely friendship while struggling to navigate their unexpected pregnancies.