Artist Development

Documentary Film Fund

Romeo Is Bleeding by Jason Zeldes
The SFFS Documentary Film Fund (DFF) supports riveting documentaries in postproduction distinguished by compelling stories, intriguing characters and an innovative visual approach. Since its launch in 2011, the SFFS Documentary Film Fund has distributed more than $450,000 to advance new work by filmmakers nationwide. Expected to grow in the coming years as further underwriting is secured, the 2015 Documentary Film Fund is made possible thanks to a generous gift from Jennifer Battat and the Jenerosity Foundation.

DFF grants are awarded once each year. Exact amounts of individual grants and the number of grants made will be determined on an annual basis. As with all Film Society grants, in addition to the cash awards, recipients will gain access to numerous benefits through Filmmaker360, the Film Society's comprehensive and dynamic filmmaker services program.

The SFFS Documentary Film Fund has an excellent track record for championing compelling films that have gone on to earn great acclaim. Previous DFF winners include Zachary Heinzerling's Cutie and the Boxer, which won Sundance's Directing Award for documentary, was distributed theatrically by RADiUS-TWC and was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature; Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson's American Promise, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and won the festival's Special Jury Prize in the documentary category; and Jason Zeldes's Romeo Is Bleeding, which had its World Premiere at the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival on April 29.


For Ahkeem — Jeremy Levine and Landon Van Soest — $25,000
For Ahkeem follows Daje Shelton, a 17-year-old Black girl from north St. Louis, Missouri as she strives to graduate from the nation's only court-supervised public high school. Daje fights for her future as close friends are killed, her sixteen-year-old boyfriend Antonio is sent to jail and nearby Ferguson erupts after the police shooting of Michael Brown. Through Daje's intimate first-person account, For Ahkeem explores the complex web between juvenile justice, education and race in America today. For more information visit

The Rescue List — Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink — $35,000
The Rescue List follows the incredible journey of two boys in Ghana as they escape from slavery, spend a year in a hidden rehabilitation shelter, and are eventually reunited with their families. Meanwhile, the man who rescued them goes back on a covert rescue mission to liberate more children. For him, the work is personal.

Dolores — Peter Bratt — $15,000
Dolores is a film about fiercely passionate and equally courageous Latina woman Dolores Huerta, who completely transforms her life when she embraces the spirit of revolt in 1950's California and goes on to cofound the country's first farm worker's union with the legendary Cesar Chavez. Introspective yet sweeping, both personal and political, Dolores defines how precarious success can be, as impossible choices are made between motherhood and political advancement.
For more information visit

Read more about our 2016 DFF projects and filmmakers here.

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