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Rooftop Films Announces 2022 Filmmaker Fund Winners, Plus Radha Blank Lands New Grant

"The 40-Year-Old Version" creator Blank wins the Water Tower Feature Film Cash Grant of $15,000, along with documentarian Eleanor Mortimer.

Radha Blank, Rooftop FIlms

Radha Blank

Rooftop Films

Independent film supporter Rooftop Films announced the 2022 Filmmaker Fund winners February 28, exclusively on IndieWire.

The prestigious Water Tower Feature Film Cash Grant was awarded to “The 40-Year-Old Version” writer-director-producer-star Radha Blank, for her upcoming untitled dark dramedy.

Environmental director Eleanor Mortimer also won a Water Tower grant for an untitled deep sea taxonomy documentary, which “follows biologists through the intricate process of discovering deep-sea species as they piece together the unknown ecosystems of the largest biome on the planet.”

The $15,000 grants are made possible by generous support from the Laurence W. Levine Foundation.

The Rooftop Filmmakers Fund grants are available to Rooftop Films alumni directors who have previously had their work screened during the annual Summer Series in New York City. Blank screened her debut feature,The Forty-Year-Old Version,” with Rooftop Films in 2020 at the Queens Drive-In. Mortimer screened her award-winning short filmTerritory” at Rooftop Films in 2016.

This year, Rooftop Films awarded 19 cash and service grants to support short and feature films. Over 60 percent of filmmakers recognized by Rooftop Films are female, and 50 percent are people of color. Twenty percent of grant winners also identify as LGBTQ+.

“Rooftop Films is proud to be able to continue to support our alumni filmmakers through these turbulent times, and this year’s Filmmakers Fund grantees showcase the innovative and daring work being created around the world,” Rooftop Films President Dan Nuxoll said. “These last few years have been particularly challenging for independent filmmakers, and it has been truly inspiring to witness the perseverance and creativity of our alumni filmmakers and the continued success of our previous grantees.”

Other 2022 feature film grantees include Amalia Ulman’s untitled feature film project, Brett Story and Stephen Maing’s “JFK8” (working title), Mike Ott and Isolda Dychauk’s “Wunderkind” (working title), Marnie Ellen Hertzler’s “Eternity One,” Catalina Jordan Alvarez’s “Sound Spring,” Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich’s “The Ballad of Suzanne Césaire,” and Martin Hawk’s “Pressure Gradient.”

“In a time of global uncertainty it is more important than ever that Rooftop Films remain a beacon and supporter of visionary work. This year’s grantees will allow us to visit with deep sea species and surprise us with genre-bending guffaws, but the most important thing is that we maintain our bearings as we journey forward on our shared vessel” Laurence W. Levine Foundation board member James Levine said.

Over 20 years, Rooftop Films has awarded more than $2 million in cash and service grants, supporting such notable work as Nikyatu Jusu’s Sundance-winningNanny,” Benh Zeitlin’sBeasts of the Southern Wild,” Eliza Hittman’sNever Rarely Sometimes Always,” Reinaldo Marcus Green’sMonsters and Men,” Penny Lane’sHail Satan?,” Kirsten Johnson’sDick Johnson is Dead,” and Gillian Robespierre’sObvious Child.”

Early work by recent breakout talents such as John Wilson (“How To With John Wilson”), Sara Dosa (“Fire of Love”), Andrew Semans (“Resurrection”), Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”), David Lowery (“The Green Knight”), and 2022 Academy Award nominee Jessica Kingdon (“Ascension”) were also supported by Rooftop Films. 

The complete list of 2022 Rooftop Filmmakers Fund short and feature film grant recipients is below: 

Water Tower Feature Film Cash Grants (Feature Film)

Radha Blank, Untitled Feature Film Project
A new dark dramedy from Radha Blank.

Eleanor Mortimer, Untitled Deep Sea Taxonomy Documentary
The deep sea has come to represent a final frontier of human discovery; the last wilderness on earth. The film follows biologists through the intricate process of discovering deep-sea species as they piece together the unknown ecosystems of the largest biome on the planet.

The Water Tower Feature Film Cash Grants are made possible by generous support from the Laurence W. Levine Foundation. 

Eastern Effects Equipment Grant (Feature Film)

Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich,The Ballad of Suzanne Césaire”

How does a woman at the center of history disappear from it? For years the impact of Suzanne Césaire, one of the mothers of négritude, was overshadowed by the fame of her husband Aimé Césaire.The Ballad of Suzanne Césaire” brings to life the images we might have had if history had been recorded differently. 

Technological Cinevideo Services (TCS) Camera Grant (Feature Film)

Amalia Ulman, Untitled Feature Film Project

A new fiction feature film from the director ofEl Planeta.”

Elkind Lighting & Camera Grant (Feature Film)

Marnie Ellen Hertzler,Eternity One”

Situated in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, off the coast of Virginia, Tangier Island is quickly disappearing into the sea. By 2040 this crabbing community will be completely submerged, making the 300 remaining residents some of America’s first climate refugees.Eternity One” explores the extremes of how science, technology, and spirituality could offer much needed salvation to the sinking island, and perhaps ourselves. What will we do in the face of unstoppable change?

NYCEDC Brooklyn Army Terminal Production Office Grant (Feature Film)

Catalina Jordan Alvarez,Sound Spring”

“Sound Spring” is an anthology documentary about Yellow Springs, a midwestern village in Ohio with a unique civil rights legacy. Its history distinguishes itself, because unlike today, when many communities have been fractured by racism and economic disparity, members of this community have confronted inequality together. Each resident portrayed helped create their own scene, based on an audio interview the filmmaker conducted with them.

Edgeworx Post Production Effects Grant (Feature Film)

Martin Hawk,Pressure Gradient”

“Pressure Gradient” explores the shades between love, rage, and rebellion as a Black person surviving America. Set in Rochester, New York, shortly after the murder of George Floyd, the city reels in the wake of another: Daniel Prude’s slaughter was covered up for months with collaborative effort between the Police Chief and the Mayor. Dynamically captured from the ground level, this film shows the anguish, resilience, and majesty of a community reborn from the ashes of segregation and oppression. Taking their fight from the streets all the way to their rightful place at the seat of government.

Irving Harvey Color Correction Grant (Feature Film)

Mike Ott and Isolda Dychauk,Wunderkind”

A new feature length work of non-fiction fiction by Mike Ott and Isolda Dychauk.

Parabolic Sound Mix Grant (Feature Film)

Brett Story and Stephen Maing ,JFK8″ (Working Title)

From the perspective of a single Amazon fulfillment center,JFK8″ is an intimate portrait of current and former Amazon workers taking on one of the world’s largest and most powerful companies in the fight to unionize.

Adrienne Shelly Foundation Grant for Women (Short Film)

Amina Sutton,Beach Floaty Thingys”

It’s the summer 1998, Grace and Hope have a plan. They are going to attend their annual family reunion in Raleigh, North Carolina, then drop their introverted niece Bryanna off with their sister Vanessa. Then spend the rest of their paid time off picking up bikers and beach bums down at exotic Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. But when they arrive at their sister Vanessa’s house, their girls’ weekend plans are tossed out the window.

DCTV Grants (Short Film)

Maya Tanaka,Honolulu”

“Honolulu” is a dark comedy centered around Yuki, a young girl on the edge of puberty with an overactive imagination. She’s awkward, chubby, and tongue-tied — and now she’s on a family vacation with her aloof father and her Japanese grandmother. As her imagination takes over, distracting her from remembering to put on sunscreen or pack tampons for her impending period, tensions with her family finally boil over.

Eugene Kolb,Berserk” (Working Title)

A non-confrontational filmmaker explores the various facets of masculinity and its relationship to violence and aggression after getting punched in the face by an unprovoked stranger.

Untouchable Scoring Grant (Short Film)

Christopher Radcliff,Fade In” (Working Title)

“Fade In” (working title) is a short documentary based on the writing of Cathy Linh Che, whose parents, who were Vietnam War refugees, were hired to play extras in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.

Rooftop Films Kayla Thomas Filmmaker Grants (Short Film)

Jordan Wong,Destiel Is Canon and Love, In Fact, Does Not Win”

On September 18, 2008, the hit series “Supernatural” blessed the world with “Lazarus Rising,” the first episode of the fouth season. There, the character of Castiel (played by Misha Collins) was introduced. Almost immediately, the “Supernatural” fandom began shipping Castiel with Dean (played by Jensen Ackles) and “Destiel” was born. After 15 seasons, “Supernatural” finally made Destiel canon, but at what cost?

Anna Margaret Hollyman,WÜM”

Bennett, a recently escaped Manhattanite and queer choreographer, joins WÜM, an upstate New York Mommy group in an attempt to navigate their new life as a parent to newborn Edie. What is supposed to be a supportive space turns into a hipster-Stepford wife pile-on, with Bennett smothered smack in the middle by white lady “wokeness.” 

Joe Bonacci,Cat Stickers: End of Days”

In light of the stabbing (at the end of the previous episode) Tabitha and Joe begrudgingly attend court mandated therapy. The butchering of Joe’s cherished limbs is discussed and Tabitha must reflect on the wretched person she has become. Joe has acquired even greater wealth and real estate from further lawsuits. Joe’s decorative plans unfold in therapy, in spite of massive push-back from both the therapist and Tabitha.

Rooftop Filmmakers Fund Short Film Grants

Adam Baran,The Nine Plus Club”

From 1965–79, The Nine Plus Club was the hottest private fraternity for gay leathermen seeking sex and camaraderie in New York City’s after hours. With newly unearthed archival footage and interviews with surviving members,The Nine Plus Club” takes us inside a forgotten landmark of queer history.

Nina Buxton,BUBBA”

A young woman wants to escape from her abusive relationship at any cost — except if it means leaving her pet dog behind.BUBBA” is written and produced by Nina Buxton and Hannah Samuel.

Nathan Truesdell, Untitled Fireworks Project

Tensions rise on a busy street as news organizations and local residents witness an extremely volatile situation turn into a literal powder keg.

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