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San Francisco Filmmaking Grant award winner

San Francisco Film Society and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation announced today the winner and two honorable mentions for the initial $35,000 SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grant, given to a filmmaker for a narrative feature film, with a social justice theme, being made in the San Francisco Bay Area. The panelists, who reviewed 124 estimable submissions, are Linda Blackaby, director of programming, San Francisco Film Society; Jennifer Chaiken, partner, 72 Productions; Graham Leggat, executive director, San Francisco Film Society; Jennifer Rainin, president, Kenneth Rainin Foundation; and George Rush, entertainment attorney.

The SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grants support films that through plot, character, theme or setting significantly explore human and civil rights, antidiscrimination, gender and sexual identity and other urgent social justice issues of our time. The grants, which run 2009-13, will be awarded in the spring and fall of each year. Total amount disbursed over these five years will be over $3 million. The letter of inquiry period for the second $35,000 SFFS/KRF grant, to be announced, for screenwriting, script development, preproduction and postproduction, opens July 21; the deadline is August 28. Winner and honorable mentions for the initial grant follow.

Richard Levien: $35,000, La Migra, screenwriting/script development
Eleven-year-old Alondra comes home from school to find that her mama, Guadalupe, has been taken by the immigration police. Alondra hates her prejudiced teacher, Mr. Broad, but is forced to turn to him for help. Guadalupe is moved from prison to prison as the two race to find her before she is deported. Every day across the U.S. families are separated, often for life, by the deportation process. La Migra makes this story personal.

Levien's first film as a director, Immersion, played at Slamdance, San Francisco International Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Aspen Shortsfest, Palm Springs International Shortfest, Seattle International Film Festival, Sarasota Film Festival and Media that Matters Film Festival, and is under consideration for Independent Lens. As a freelance film editor, he edited and did motion graphics for the short film On the Assassination of the President, which premiered at Sundance in 2008. He also edited the cult internet hit Store Wars, which was seen by 5.5 million people in the first six weeks of its release. For more information

Amanda Micheli: Tomboy, screenwriting/script development
Ruby idolizes her father, Frank, a retired NFL linebacker, and dreams of playing football herself. As a little girl, Ruby's boyish ways are cute and almost socially acceptable; Frank teaches Ruby to throw and catch as if she were his son. As she transitions into womanhood, however, Ruby faces an identity crisis. Tomboy is a full-contact coming-of-age story about sexual identity, female courage and self-determination set in the world of college women's rugby.

Micheli's most recent film, La Corona, premiered at Sundance in 2008 and was nominated for an Oscar before airing on HBO. In 2004, she premiered Double Dare at Toronto International Film Festival and won the audience award at SF International. Her first film, Just for the Ride, won a student Oscar and IDA Award and aired on PBS. Her other director of photography and producer credits include: Thin, Cat Dancers, Brave New Voices, 30 Days, My Flesh and Blood and The Flute Player. For more information

Jeff Zimbalist: The Scribe of Urabá, preproduction
Based on real events, The Scribe of Urabá chronicles the rise of the Nobel Prize-nominated Peace Community Movement in Latin America through the personal story of a 14-year-old Colombian girl whose father is murdered for being a union leader at a rural Colombian Coca-Cola bottling plant. The girl's life collides with that of an African American woman PR executive at Coca-Cola's U.S. headquarters, assigned to ameliorate controversy around the violent union bust.

Zimbalist is an Emmy Award nominated writer, director and editor whose films such as Favela Rising have won more than 35 international film festival awards, been broadcast on HBO, PBS, Channel 4 UK, ESPN and BET, and been theatrically distributed throughout the Americas, Europe, Australia and Asia. He has produced documentaries on third world development issues for clients such as the UNDP, the World Bank, and the Interamerican Development Bank. He is a Brown University graduate and 2006 Ford Foundation grantee. For more information

The SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grants support work by local filmmakers as well as attract projects of the highest quality to the Bay Area, providing tangible encouragement and support to meaningful projects and benefiting the local economy. In addition to a cash grant, recipients will receive various benefits through the Film Society's comprehensive and dynamic filmmaker services programs (

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