Spring 2014 SFFS / KRF Filmaking Grant Winners
Mark Elijah Rosenberg, director
Josh Penn, producer
$50,000 for postproduction
Captain Stanaforth is a NASA pilot alone on a one-way mission toward the unknown.
Mark Elijah Rosenberg is the founder and artistic director of Rooftop Films. Mark has overseen Rooftop’s growth from a simple idea into one of the most innovative and vital independent film companies in the country. Mark has published articles on filmmaking and programming, and has served as guest lecturer at institutions including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Allied Media Conference and the University of Texas. Mark has also served on juries of festivals including Sundance and SXSW and on grants panels for Cinereach, NYSCA, LMCC and Renew Media. Mark co-produced Orbit(Film), an omnibus movie about our solar system, and has spent over a year researching NASA history, protocols and planned missions, as well as conducting primary and secondary research in NASA’s archives. His feature debut as screenwriter and director, Ad Inexplorata, has received extensive support from the Sundance Institute, Creative Capital and the San Francisco Film Society.
Josh Penn is an Academy Award nominated producer whose films have won over 100 awards internationally. Most notable among them is Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), which won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize, Cannes’ Camera d’Or, and was nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Josh received Sundance/Indian Paintbrush’s Producer’s Award in 2012 and was a nominee for Outstanding Producer at the 2013 Producer’s Guild Awards. Josh also produced Tchouptioulas (2012) and Glory at Sea (2008). Upcoming projects include feature debuts of top emerging artists including Mark Elijah Rosenberg and Ray Tintori (both SFFS-supported projects), as well as Benh Zeitlin’s forthcoming feature.
Kat Candler, writer/director
$17,000 for screenwriting
For more information visit candlerproductions.com.
After a career spent mining his music from the shadows, the lead singer of a metal band and his family experience a chain reaction of turmoil following the murderous actions of a teenage fan.
Kat Candler’s latest feature film, Hellion premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in U.S. Dramatic Competition. The film was a recipient of the San Francisco Film Society / Kenneth Rainin Foundation filmmaking grant, Austin Film Society grant and a participant at the IFP/No Borders program. Kat Candler's short films, Hellion and Black Metal, both premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Her previous films have screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, SXSW, Slamdance and on PBS. Candler is a film lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin. She helped create the Summer Film Camp for Girls in Austin and founded the Women in Cinema group at the University of Texas in 2011. Candler graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing.
Mohamed Diab, writer/director
$35,000 for screenwriting
In the wake of the recent removal of the former Egyptian president from office, Hayman—a jaded, claustrophobic revolutionary—is stuck in an overcrowded truck with clashing brotherhood and military supporters. Engulfed in hatred and violence, he must learn to reconcile his love for Egypt in order to survive.
Mohamed Diab is a prominent Egyptian filmmaker who's written 5 films, including El Gezira (The Island), the Egyptian submission for the Oscars in 2007. Diab's work is often centered on pressing issues concerning Egyptian society. His desire for social impact influenced his decision to make his directorial debut with his film Cairo 678, which focuses on sexual harassment. The film was dubbed “a harbinger of the revolution” by the New York Times, and is considered one of the most award-winning Egyptian films of all times. Diab's involvement in the Tahrir Square revolution earned him a Webby Award for his activism through social media. The rapid turn of events in Egypt has stalled his revolution film project for 3 years.
Five Nights in Maine
Maris Curran, writer/director/producer
Carly Hugo and Matt Parker, producers
$60,000 for 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.
Maris Curran (Born Augusta, GA) is a Bay Area based filmmaker. Her current feature film project, Five Nights in Maine, participated in IFP's No Borders International Coproduction Market, received a Cinereach Grant, was selected as one of ten international projects to develop at the Cine Qua Non Writers Lab in Mexico and will participate in SFFS’ Off the Page. She has exhibited her short films and videos internationally at galleries and film festivals and produces commercial documentaries, music videos and broadcast spots. Maris’ recent short, Margarita, premiered internationally at the Huesca International Film Festival in Spain, in the US at the HBO NY Latino Film Festival and locally at Cinema by the Bay. Maris uses film to delve into the drama of the everyday, to tell stories that take on challenging issues such as race, disability, illness and sexuality. She received a BA from Smith College and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received a Princess Grace Award for her thesis film. Maris also participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program and was a Fulbright Fellow.
Carly Hugo is an independent film producer and the co-founder of Loveless. Carly produced Andrew Dosunmu's Mother of George, which premiered in the US Dramatic Competition of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Best Cinematography Award and was named one of the National Board of Review’s Top 10 Independent Films of 2013. Carly also produced Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, Higher Ground (Sundance 2011), which was released by Sony Pictures Classics, and the documentary Hot Coffee (Sundance 2011), which premiered on HBO and was awarded a Television Academy Honor from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Carly is currently in production on HBO’s Nora Ephron documentary, Everything Is Copy, and she recently produced Self-Titled, an online multi-part documentary about Beyoncé’s visual album, directed by Zach Heinzerling. Carly was an IFP Fellow for the Cannes Producers’ Network in 2013. She was a co-producer of Bachelorette (Sundance 2012), Restless City (Sundance 2011), Peter and Vandy (Sundance 2009), Beware the Gonzo (Tribeca 2010), and Beautiful Darling (Berlin 2010). She was an associate producer of Loggerheads (Sundance 2005) and Bass Ackwards (Sundance 2010). Carly grew up outside of Boston and holds a B.A. in Film Studies from Columbia University.
Ian Olds, cowriter/director
Paul Felten, cowriter
Caroline von Kuhn and Lily Whitsitt, producers
$18,000 for preproduction
For more information visit fixerthefilm.com.
An Afghan journalist is exiled from his war-torn country to a small bohemian community in Northern California. When he attempts to turn his menial job on the local police blotter into "Afghan-style" coverage of local crime, he gets drawn into the underworld of this small town—a shadow Northern California where sex is casual, true friendship is hard to come by, and an unfamiliar form of violence burbles up all around him.
Ian Olds has spent the last 13 years working as a director, writer and editor of both narrative and documentary work. Directing credits include the Iraq war doc Occupation Dreamland (released theatrically by Rumur Releasing, short-listed for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and winner of a 2006 Independent Spirit Award), Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi (winner of top jury prizes at Tribeca and Madrid, acquired by HBO and nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism) and the experimental narrative Francophrenia (Abu Dhabi, Rotterdam, Tribeca, True/False, Comedy Central). Olds' short narrative films have played numerous festivals including Sundance, Los Angeles and Clermont-Ferrand.
Caroline von Kuhn is a film and theatre producer with six years in this industry. She worked for the Tribeca Film Festival, running their Industry department after four years of Publicity and is Managing Director of the Camden International Film Festival (Maine). von Kuhn has worked extensively in Film Publicity in New York at Tribeca Film Festival, Bob Berney's distribution company Apparition and Film Society of Lincoln Center. She also produced Industry Panels for Doha Tribeca Film Festival (Qatar). Most recently she programmed the launch of the crowd- sourced funding and distribution platform Seed&Spark with the team behind her first film, Like the Water. von Kuhn's most recent producing work includes her directorial debut Like the Water (Director/Executive Producer) co-written with actress Caitlin FitzGerald, which she wrote, financed, shot, edited and world premiered in 15 months. In theatre she is currently producing and co-directing a US/UK/Norwegian production of her conception I, Peer, a modern take on Ibsen's Peer Gynt and disability in the arts (Oslo Norway's Nationaltheatret, London's Old Vic/New Voices and New York's Private Theatre). von Kuhn received her BA in Financial Economics from University of Virginia and an MFA from University of Manchester (UK).
Lily Whitsitt is a producer and director in film and theater. She has worked with Fox (Traffic Light and The Deep End), MacGuffin Films (commercial production), the Sundance Theatre Lab and Local Projects media design firm, as well as on the independent feature film Multiple Sarcasms, starring Timothy Hutton and Mira Sorvino. In collaboration with Anna Deavere Smith, Whitsitt produced a conference at NYU Abu Dhabi that brought together artists, policy makers and activists from around the world to examine pressing social issues. In the theater she has produced and directed work for Door 10 performance group, Performance Space 122’s Spiegeltent as well as at site-specific venues in New York and Los Angeles, including a medium security prison where she co-directed a group of prisoners in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Rehabilitation Through the Arts). She has received awards and fellowships from the Princess Grace Foundation, Feldstärke International, The Drama League and Time Warner Foundation/The Women’s Project and holds an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.
Travis Matthews, cowriter/director
Keith Wilson, cowriter/producer
$25,000 for packaging
For more information visit travisdmathews.com.
When his disability check arrives much reduced, a hot-headed young gay man with cerebral palsy is forced to confront the disability he has let define his whole being.
Since 2000, Travis Mathews has been working as a producer, editor, cinematographer, screenwriter, and director. Most recently, Mathews collaborated with James Franco to make the docufiction, Interior. Leather Bar. Of the film, The New York Times said it was “one of the sharpest, best surprises” of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The film screened in over 75 festivals internationally, including Berlinale and Rotterdam, was a finalist for a Cinema Eye award and was released theatrically by Strand Releasing in early 2014. Mathews’ feature narrative debut, I Want Your Love (2012) about a group of gay San Francisco friends, premiered at the Frameline Film Festival, screened in dozens of international festivals and was called “a bold film with rare insight into the uncensored lives of a generation of gay men” by Filmmaker Andrew Haigh. In 2013, Mathews was an OUT 100 recipient and was recognized by filmmaker Ira Sachs as “just the kind of new voice we need to tell our stories.” A self-taught filmmaker, Mathews has a “there’s always a way” perseverance that he applies to every project. His body of work focuses on gay male intimacy and masculinity and is informed by a Masters in Counseling Psychology.
Keith Wilson has over 12 years experience as a producer, director, cinematographer and screenwriter. In 2013, he was Producer and Director of Photography for Interior. Leather Bar., which premiered at the Sundance and Berlinale Film Festivals. The film screened in over 75 festivals internationally, was nominated for a Cinema Eye award and was released theatrically by Strand Releasing in 2014. In 2010, his short documentary film, The Shrimp, screened at the South by Southwest Film Festival, the U.S. National Gallery of Art and won the Director’s Choice and Best Cinematography Award from the Black Maria Film Festival. Wilson is also a fine-art photographer whose recent work was exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery, the Brandhorst Museum in Munich, Germany and was an ArtForum Critic’s Pick. He has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas-Austin, where he was a University and Jesse Jones Fellow.
Our Lady of the Snow
Tom Gilroy, writer/director
$35,000 for screenwriting
When the Bishop decides to sell a gothic convent isolated in the snowy woods, the elderly nuns living there begin to have ecstatic visions, which he dismisses as faked. But as the visions spread to the convent’s teenaged atheist cook, inexplicable supernatural events follow, with no one sure of their cause.
Tom Gilroy has written and directed three award winning films–the short Touch Base (IFC/Bravo), the critically-acclaimed feature Spring Forward (IFC/MGM) starring Liev Schreiber and Ned Beatty and The Cold Lands (Cinereach), which recently had its world premiere at The Berlinale, its US premiere at Sarasota and NYC premiere at BAM. Tom is also the director of the shorts It Happened Today (commissioned by REM) and Mr. Sycamore, and is currently producing and co-directing The Cold Lands Collaborations; six short film collaborations with six musicians, including Michael Stipe, Natalie Merchant, dub Gabriel, Azure Ray and Mark Mulcahy. Tom’s plays–most notably The Invisible Hand and Halcion Days–have been produced in several US cities and around the world, and his most recent theatre production was Hamlet, starring Jared Harris, with his father Richard Harris playing The Ghost. Tom is a three-time fellow to The MacDowell Colony, a two-time fellow to The Sundance Screenwriting Lab and Directing Lab and served as mentor both at The Hamptons Screenwriting Lab and the Sundance Creative Producer's Lab. Tom's also taught writing and directing at Columbia University and published two books of haiku. His political columns appear frequently in The Huffington Post. An atheist educated by nuns and Jesuits, Tom graduated Boston College with a BA in literature. His path to filmmaking included stints as a radio and club DJ, a guitarist in a punk band, a journalist at a small Connecticut newspaper chain, a short-order cook and, finally, an actor.
Geremy Jasper, writer/director/composer
Dan Janvey, producer
$25,000 for packaging
For more information visit welcometolegs.com.
Patricia Baccio, aka Patti Cake$, is a big girl with a big mouth and big dreams of rap superstardom. Stuck in Lodi, New Jersey, Patti battles an army of haters as she strives to break the mold and take over the rap game.
Geremy Jasper is a music video and commercial director, composer and co-founder of the progressive New York production studio LEGS. With his wife and creative partner Georgie Greville, he has directed VMA nominated videos for Florence + The Machine, Selena Gomez and others, and his direction for the Target Kaleidoscopic Fashion Spectacular won a Cannes Gold Lion, TED Prize and was inducted into the MOMA’s permanent collection. A New Jersey native, he was a recording artist for Kemado/Hollywood records. This is his first feature film.
Dan Janvey (Producer) is an independent producer and founding member of Court 13. He produced Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, La Camera d’or at Cannes, and received four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Janvey was nominated for the PGA award and was awarded the Indian Paintbrush Creative Producing Prize for his work on Beasts. He also participated in the Sundance Producing Labs with the project. Additionally, he has produced the Ross Brothers’ documentary Tchoupitoulas (2012), which premiered at SXSW and won the HBO Emerging Artists Awards at Hot Docs. He has also produced several short films with directors Benh Zeitlin and other members of Court 13. He resides in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Snow the Jones
Alistair Banks Griffin, writer/director/producer
$35,000 for production
For more information visit twogatesofsleep.com.
When teenage vagabond Lexi joins a traveling door-to-door sales crew, she discovers a world much darker than the one from which she was trying to escape.
Alistar Banks Griffin was born in England (1978) and raised in New Orleans. After earning a BA at the Rhode Island School of Design, Mr. Griffin’s short film Gauge premiered at the New York Film Festival. In 2009, he was the recipient of a Cinereach grant for his first feature film, Two Gates of Sleep, which premiered in Director's Fortnight at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and won the Grand Prize at CPH:PIX. Two Gates, produced by Boderline Films and Andrew F. Renzi, has screened in numerous international festivals and released theatrically in the US by Factory25. In 2007, he established Influence Machine Productions to develop and produce feature length and commercial content. In the fall of 2013 he participated in the 2nd annual Berlinale Film Festival Residency. Snow the Jones will be his second feature film and was the winner of the 2013 SFFS / Hearst Screenwriting Grant.