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SFFILM Announces New Doc Fellowship with Catapult Film Fund

Fellowship Focused on the Early Stages of Documentary Film Development Allows Filmmakers to Concentrate on Storytelling


SFFILM has announced a new support program designed for nonfiction filmmakers in partnership with Catapult Film Fund, adding to its slate of artist development offerings for independent storytellers from across the US. The SFFILM Catapult Documentary Fellowship will launch in the summer of 2018 with three inaugural fellowships for makers working in the early stages of development on documentary features.

Selected SFFILM Catapult Documentary Fellows will receive:

  • A $10,000 cash grant
  • A two-month residency at FilmHouse, SFFILM’s artist community space with access to its robust series of presentations and workshops with leading industry professionals, peer-to-peer reviews, and networking opportunities
  • Strategic consultation from SFFILM and Catapult Film Fund staff, as well as documentary mentors, guiding them artistically and with industry support to successfully enter fundraising and production

A first of its kind in the United States, the SFFILM Catapult Documentary Fellowship will focus on the starting point and early development of documentary filmmaking, through a combined deployment of financial support, mentored residencies, and continued artistic and industry guidance through production. Recognizing a gap in traditional film granting programs that tend to neglect the stages of research, structure-building, and storytelling—all of which are critical to the making of a world-class documentary—this fellowship seeks to provide direct support for talented filmmakers to protect their process of creative expression. Coming in at a stage in which most documentary makers are expending resources on the creation of pitch decks and fundraising trailers, SFFILM and Catapult seek to provide a platform for these artists to push their creative process further and build their infrastructure and support to enter production.

“There is a real need for documentary filmmakers to receive support much earlier on in the process than most existing funding programs allow for—before they even have the materials to attract the funding,” said SFFILM Director of Artist Development, Caroline von Kuhn. “We have seen so many documentary makers pulled full time into fundraising, cutting trailers, and writing grants, without any time or support for the storytelling process itself and wish to do our part to address this. The work Lisa Kleiner Chanoff and Bonni Cohen have been doing at Catapult to support the crucial earlier stages of filmmaking inspired this partnership, and we couldn’t be more excited for our two Bay Area organizations to embark on this fellowship together.”
“Catapult is thrilled to partner with SFFILM to expand our support of story-driven and cinematic documentary films at such a critical early stage,” added Catapult Film Fund co-founder Lisa Kleiner Chanoff. “It’s an exciting time in the documentary landscape, and we’re dedicated to supporting the artistic process and filmmaker support with SFFILM, who is equally dedicated to great storytelling.”

In addition to funding resources and consultation services from SFFILM and Catapult, fellows will be included in a robust mentorship program as part of the FilmHouse resident community and a select group of additional documentary advisors. Integrated into SFFILM’s mentor- and peer-oriented support structures, SFFILM Catapult Documentary Fellows will have access to an established network of directors, producers, editors, managers, and legal consultants to help navigate their looming funding and producing concerns.

The fellowship selection process will seek out documentary features with an emphasis on powerful stories, compelling storytelling, a broad spectrum of issues and perspectives. The program is open to documentary makers across the US in the development phase of their projects.

The application period for the SFFILM Catapult Documentary Fellowship opens January 2018 for fellowships beginning in September 2018. For more information, visit

For more information about SFFILM’s film exhibition, media education, and filmmaker services programs, visit






SFFILM Makers (formerly "Filmmaker360"), the organization’s artist development program, provides significant financial and creative resources to independent filmmakers through grants, fellowships, residencies, fiscal sponsorship, and more. Since 2009, nearly $5 million has been disbursed to more than 150 film projects in various stages of production. Highlights include the SFFILM / Rainin Filmmaking Grant; a joint effort with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to cultivate stories rooted in science and technology; and the Documentary Film Fund, a partnership with the Jenerosity Foundation. For more information, visit

SFFILM is a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the world's finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM is a year-round organization delivering screenings and events to more than 100,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 10,000 students and teachers annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services. For more information visit







About Editor

Chatelin Bruno
(M21 Entertainment -

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