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SF Film Society Names 11 Finalists for Documentary Film Fund (EXCLUSIVE)

SF Film Society Names 11 Finalists for Documentary Film Fund (EXCLUSIVE)

The San Francisco Film Society today announces the 11 finalists for the 2015 SFFS Documentary Film Fund awards totaling more than $75,000, which support feature-length docs in postproduction. Finalists were culled from more than 300 applications, and winners will be announced in early April.

Past Documentary Film Fund winners include Zachary Heinzerling’s “Cutie and the Boxer,” winner of Sundance’s Directing Award for documentary and nominee for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature; Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson’s “American Promise,” which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and won the festival’s Special Jury Prize for documentary; and Shaul Schwarz’s harrowing “Narco Cultura,” which premiered to strong reviews at Sundance the same year.

The 11 Documentary Film Fund finalists projects are:

The Bad Kids – Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe, codirectors

The Bad Kids brings audiences through the
doors of an alternative public high school in the Mojave Desert where an
extraordinary principal believes that, more than academics, it is love, support
and empathy that will help at-risk students break the cycle of poverty that
threatens their futures. 

Forever Pure – Maya Zinshtein, director; Geoff Arbourne, producer

In January
2014, a secretive transfer deal transported two Muslim players to the heart of
Israel to join the Beitar Jerusalem Football Club, leading to the most controversial
public response in Israeli sports history. Closely following one season and a
team in crisis, this film explores the structures of money and power behind this
landmark event that sent the club spiraling out of control.

Forty Panes – Laura Dunn, director

Forty Panes is a cinematic portrait of the
changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of
industrial agriculture, as seen through the mind’s eye of farmer and novelist
Wendell Berry. The film revolves around the divergent stories of several residents
of Henry County, Kentucky, each of whom face difficult choices that will
dramatically reshape their relationship with the land and their community. (For
more information visit fortypanes.com.) 

Infanity – Ramona Diaz, director

Infanity is set in the Philippines—the
12th most populous country in the world as well as one of the poorest—and
explores its struggles with reproductive health policy, as seen in the
legislature, where the laws are debated, and in a hospital with the busiest
maternity ward on the planet. (For more information visit cinediaz.com.)

The Island
and the Whales
– Mike Day, director

The pilot
whale hunters of the Nordic Faroe Islands believe that hunting is vital to
their way of life, but when a local doctor makes a grim discovery about the
effects of marine pollution, environmental changes threaten to end the
controversial tradition and change the community forever. (For more information
visit intrepidcinema.com.)

Learning to
– Kaspar Astrup Schröder, director;
Katherine Sahlstrom, producer

In China,
more people are on death row than in the rest of the world combined. The
children of the convicts are most often left alone, stigmatized and living in
the streets. Some of these abandoned kids are picked up by an orphanage founded
by a former prison guard; here they learn to live a life without parents and
prepare for a world outside where they have to prove wrong the many
misconceptions about them. (For more information visit goodcompanypictures.com.)

Liyana – Aaron Kopp and Amanda Kopp, codirectors

In this
genre-bending documentary, a talented group of children in Swaziland create a
fictional heroine and send her on a dangerous quest. (For more information visit

The Oakland
Police Project
– Peter Nicks, director

The Oakland Police Project is a film
about police power and restraint, unfolding deep inside the famously troubled
Oakland Police Department. The film presents in intimate detail the rare
perspective of beleaguered officers who are often viewed as oppressors in the
community they serve, even as they and their young chief struggle to rebuild
trust in the face of mass protests, budget cuts and more violent crimes per
officer than any city in America. (For more information visit openhood.org.)

Selling Our
– Dave Adams and Josie Swantek, codirectors;
Susan MacLaury, producer

Selling Our Daughters explores the
dark side of child advocacy. A mystery unfolds as the film follows three Thai
girls whose parents have allegedly sold them into sex work, only to discover
that this story is a lie fabricated by the advocate who supposedly rescued

Uncertain – Ewan McNichol and Anna Sandilands, codirectors

Uncertain is a southern gothic tale set
on the Texas / Louisiana border in a town called Uncertain, population 94. As
the town struggles to survive, three men battle their demons in search of
forgiveness and redemption. (For more information visit uncertainfilm.com.)

– Leah Wolchok, director

Very Semi-Serious takes an
unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at a cultural icon—the 89-year-old New Yorker cartoon—and uncovers the
process and personalities who bring the art form to life. Guided by Bob
Mankoff, the magazine’s incisive cartoon editor, the film introduces the past,
present and future generations of cartoonists who collectively answer the
question that has agitated readers for decades: what does a New Yorker cartoon really mean? (For more
information visit verysemiserious.com.)

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