The San Francisco Film Society has announced the 14 finalists who will be competing for a $300,000 grant from the SFFS and the Kenneth Rainn Foundation.
One or more narrative films from the Bay Area will receive the prize. Happily, a slight majority of the contenders (8 of 14) are female filmmakers, including Cherien Dabis, Annie Silverstein, and Kris Swanberg.
Previous winners of the SFFS grant program include Kat Candler’s Hellion, Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Souther Wild.
Below are the female finalists. All descriptions are courtesy of the SFFS.
“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.
“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 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.
“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.