The state of things for female directors looks bleak in Hollywood, but the San Francisco Film Society is making a difference on the indie side.
Three narrative feature filmmakers will receive the San Francisco Film Society’s inaugural Women Filmmaker Fellowships, a first-ever suite of services that supports emerging women writer/directors who are working on their second or third feature. The fellowships provide financial backing, mentorship, industry connections and exclusive access to the Bay Area’s ever-widening film community.
The fellowship, which gave priority to projects in the under-represented genres of sci-fi, comedy, action, thriller and horror, includes: a $25,000-$40,000 cash grant, placement in FilmHouse residency program, one-on-one consultation from industry experts, an expenses-paid three-day networking trip from SF to LA, and more.
This year’s fellows are:
Jennifer Phang’s sophomore feature “Advantageous” won the US Dramatic Competition Special Jury Prize in Collaborative Vision at Sundance 2015. The film will play at the San Francisco International Film Festival and BAM Cinemafest, and is expected to see a release in June. Her award-winning debut feature “Half-Life” premiered in 2008 at the Tokyo International and Sundance film festivals. It screened at SXSW and was distributed by Sundance Channel. A Berkeley-born daughter of a Chinese-Malaysian father and Vietnamese mother, Phang graduated from the MFA directing program at the American Film Institute.
Nikole Beckwith is from Newburyport, Massachusetts. Her plays have been developed and performed around the world. Also a pen and ink artist, Beckwith’s comics have been featured on NPR, WNYC, the Huffington Post and the Hairpin, among others. Her first film “Stockholm, Pennsylvania” (2012 Nicholl Fellowship, 2012 Black List, 2013 Sundance Screenwriters Lab), which was adapted from her stage play of the same name, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in the US Dramatic Competition.
Stewart Thorndike is a writer/director from Tacoma, Washington. She makes female-driven genre films and her first film, “Lyle,” was hailed as a “lesbian Rosemary’s Baby” after its premiere at Outfest, where star Gaby Hoffmann won the Grand Jury Award for Best Actress. Stewart’s next film, “The Stay,” is about a group of women at a hotel who are told to do bad things by a haunted TED Talk, with Chloe Sevigny attached to star in the 2015 production. She is currently developing her second horror feature, “Daughter,” about a love triangle between a single mother, her troubled teenage daughter and the witch who moves in next door, which she plans to shoot in 2016.
Supported by the Kenneth Ranin Foundation and facilitated by Filmmaker360, SFFS Women Filmmaker Fellowships will take place from April to October each year, overlapping with the Film Society’s previously announced Producers Fellowship programs and the San Francisco International Film Festival (April 23–May 7).