Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

SFFILM announces 2020 Documentary Film Fund winners

SFFILM Makers’ Non-Fiction Post-Production Fund Awards a Total of $80,000 to Four Projects

SFFILM today announced the four winners of 2020 SFFILM Documentary Film Fund grants totaling $80,000, which support feature-length documentaries in post-production. Created to support non-fiction films that are distinguished by compelling stories, intriguing characters, and an innovative visual approach, the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund is SFFILM’s largest support program for doc makers. Giovanni Buccomino’s After a Revolution (working title), Clarke Lyons and Gabe Dinsmoor’s Squeegee, Farah Kassem’s We Are Inside, and Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh’s Writing with Fire were each awarded funding that will help push each project towards completion.

“We are very excited to be able to support this amazing slate of documentaries,” remarked the jury. “Each project tackles its particular exploration of identity and place in remarkably thoughtful and creative ways, and they all have the potential to move and inspire audiences all over the world. We’re impressed by the vividness with which these films depict their communities, the spaces they inhabit, and the conflicts they face, and we look forward to these stories being told to as wide an audience as possible.”

The SFFILM Documentary Film Fund has an excellent track record for championing compelling, critically acclaimed films. Previous DFF winners include Ljubo Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska’s Honeyland, which won a record number of juried awards at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for Academy Awards for both Best Documentary Feature and Best Foreign Language Film; RaMell Ross’ Hale County This Morning, This Evening, which won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance 2018 and was nominated for the 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature; Liza Mandelup’s Jawline, which won a Special Jury Award at Sundance 2019 and is currently streaming on Hulu; Hassan Fazili’s Midnight Traveler, which won a Special Jury Award at Sundance 2019 and the McBaine Documentary Feature Award at the 2019 SFFILM Festival; Luke Lorentzen’s Midnight Family, which premiered at Sundance 2019 and won dozens of awards including a Creative Recognition Award for Best Editing from the International Documentary Association; Assia Boundaoui’s The Feeling of Being Watched, which has won audience awards at several film festivals and was broadcast nationwide on POV; Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink’s The Rescue List, which had its world premiere at the 2018 SFFILM Festival and was broadcast nationwide on POV; and Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxerwhich won Sundance’s Directing Award for documentary and was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, among many others. For more information visit sffilm.org/makers.

Since its launch in 2011, the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund has distributed nearly $1 million to advance new work by filmmakers nationwide. The 2020 Documentary Film Fund is made possible thanks to support from Jennifer Battat and the Jenerosity Foundation.

The panelists who reviewed the eleven finalists’ submissions were Sofia Alicastro, SFFILM Artist Development Manager: Filmmaker Programs; Jennifer Battat, founder of the Jenerosity Foundation; Jason Ishikawa, Senior Executive at Cinetic Media; Anne Lai, SFFILM Executive Director; and Diane Quon, film producer.


After a Revolution (working title)
Giovanni Buccomino, director; Naziha Arebi and Alessandro Carroli, producers – $20,000
“When injustice exceeds what you can withstand you’ll do anything.” This is the tale of a brother and sister who fought on opposite sides of the Libyan revolution. Filmed over six years, through an intimate lens, we get under the skin of an unknown country and experience at close range the psychological impact of modern warfare, international intervention, and the fragility of democracy.

Clarke Lyons, co-director/producer; Gabe Dinsmoor, co-director/cinematographer; Jonna McKone, producer – $20,000
Squeegee is a portrait of a group of young people and their wider community struggling to overcome poverty, and the ingenuity they bring to making a living on Baltimore’s streets. It is a story of transient, vulnerable kids who are overlooked and ignored by the communities that are supposed to support and protect them.

Writing with Fire
Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, co-directors/producers – $20,000
In one of the most socially oppressive and patriarchal states of India emerges a newspaper run by Dalit women. Chief reporter Meera leads the move to magnify the paper’s impact with an audacious decision — to transform from print to a digital news agency. Armed with smartphones, Meera and her journalists break traditions, be it on the frontlines of India’s biggest issues or within the confines of their homes, redefining what it means to be powerful.

SFFILM Documentary Film Fund grants are awarded once each year. The exact amounts of individual grants and the total number of grants are determined on an annual basis. As with all SFFILM grants, in addition to the cash awards, recipients will gain access to numerous benefits through SFFILM Makers, the organization’s comprehensive and dynamic artist development program. These benefits, customized to every individual production, can include one-on-one project consultations, creative development, additional fundraising assistance, resource and service recommendations, and networking opportunities, among many others.

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