SFFILM, producer of the San Francisco Film Festival, has revealed the five winners of the 2019 SFFILM Documentary Film Fund, which helps finance feature-length documentaries in post-production.
The fund, created to support non-fiction films distinguished by compelling stories, intriguing characters, and an innovative visual approach, will award a total of US$125,000 to the winners.
This year’s winners are Lea Glob’s Apolonia, Apolonia (produced by Sidsel Lønvig Siersted), about a young woman’s coming of age as an artist, and her move into the commercial art scene; Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson’s Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (pictured; produced by Brewster and Stephenson), about artist Nikki Giovanni’s life through the tumultuous historical periods in which she lived — from the Civil Rights Movement, to the Black Arts Movement, to present-day Black Lives Matter; Landon Van Soest’s Light Darkness Light (produced by Van Soest, Paul Trillo, Tom Yellin and Jo Budzilowicz), about a 76-year-old blind Anglican priest who became one of the first people in the world to attempt sight with an implanted bionic eye; David Osit‘s Mayor (produced by the Osit), about a charismatic leader’s quest to build the city of the future in a land paralyzed by its past; and CJ Hunt’s Neutral Ground (produced by Darcy McKinnon), about the struggle and debate over removing confederate monuments in New Orleans.
The panelists who reviewed the 12 finalists’ submissions are Jennifer Battat, founder of the Jenerosity Foundation; Lauren Kushner, interim director of artist development at SFFILM; James LeBrecht, filmmaker and sound designer; Abby Sun, programming consultant; and Caroline von Kühn, former director of artist development at SFFILM.
Each project was awarded $25,000 in funding to help push the films to completion. The exact amounts of individual grants as well as the total number of grants are determined on an annual basis.
In addition to the cash awards, recipients will have access to numerous benefits through SFFILM Makers, the organization’s artist development program. The benefits are customized to every individual production and can include one-on-one project consultations, creative development, additional fundraising assistance, resource and service recommendations and networking opportunities, among others.
“It is our great honor to support these five special documentaries,” said the jury in a joint statement. “These works reflect our world today as we grapple with the past and how it has brought us to this moment, while looking to the future with hope, innovation, and uncertainty. Using humor, ambitious creativity, and extremely close access, these filmmakers have allowed the protagonists of their films to speak freely for themselves as they navigate everything from the biggest challenges faced by humanity to the most intimate introspection about their own deeply personal challenges.”
The 2019 Documentary Film Fund was made possible with support from Jennifer Battat and the Jenerosity Foundation.