Dear Berkeley FILM Foundation (BFF) friend and partner:

We are delighted to recap another successful year which demonstrates the profound difference that your support continues to make in nurturing the existing local independent filmmaking community while attracting the next generation of filmmakers.

This year, Brad Bailey, one of our student filmmaker grantees, won a Student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) for Hale .  We are thrilled that three BFF-awarded student filmmakers have now been nominated for student Academy Awards. See below for more news about BFF-awarded student films that are winning student Oscar nominations plus recognition at national and international film festivals!

With best wishes for the holidays and new year,

Abby Ginzberg
President, Board of Directors
Berkeley FILM Foundation


2017 BFF Grants to Filmmakers   
The Musical Legacy of Sheila E.
The Sacred and the Snake
Former BFF student grant winner is back to win a second grant as a professional filmmaker!

  • BFF-funded documentaries will reach audiences worldwide and tackle difficult topics such as mental illness, civil and human rights, gender, the environment, economic policy, and other social justice issues. Other films present a first or fresh look at local artists and those who are coming-of-age.

  • In the 2017 grant cycle, a record 125 applicants were submitted and $193,000 awarded to 15 professional filmmakers plus seven student filmmakers from UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Berkeley City College.

  • Since 2009, BFF has awarded 120 grants totaling over $1.3 million, including 36 student grants.

  • The annual $25,000 Saul Zaentz Award went to Sara Lafleur-Vetter, Jonathan Klett and Romin Lee Johnson for their film, The Sacred and the Snake, about the Dakota Access Pipeline. Sara previously won a 2015 student grant and we are proud to support her work now as a professional filmmaker!

  • The annual $20,000 Al Bendich Award went to Lise Pearlman whose film, American Justice on Trial, takes us back to 1968 and the Black Panther movement.

  • This year BFF welcomed the City of Emeryville as a new funder! Their $10,000 grant went to Emeryville filmmakers Pratibha Parmar for My Name is Andrea and Peter Li-Pan Lee’s film Don’t Be a Hero. The Sundance Film Festival just announced that Don't Be a Hero will screen on Day One of the 2018 festival as a U.S. Narrative Short Film. Congratulations!

See the entire list of incredible 2017 BFF filmmakers and films, including Jennifer Steinman’s The Musical Legacy of Sheila E on our web site .
BFF Grant Winners Continue to Garner Recognition 
Brad Bailey with his student Oscar
Melina Tupa
Berkeley FILM Foundation grants help filmmakers leverage more financial support and awards.

  • Two 2017 student BFF grant winners from UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism – Jason Hanasik and Brad Bailey – were nominated in the Student Academy Awards category by AMPAS.

  • Brad Bailey won the Student Academy Award for his film, Hale, a remarkable doc short about Berkeley-based disability rights pioneer Hale Zukas, 73, who has had cerebral palsy since birth.

  • 2016 student BFF grant winner Melina Tupa and her film The Search have since also won: Student Academy Award Finalist, 2017 Fargo Film Festival Best Student Film, DOCUTAH 2016 International Documentary Film Festival Best Student Picture and recognition at nine other national and international film festivals.

  • Amir Soltani’s 2016 BFF-grant winning film, Dogtown Redemption, was nominated for an Emmy this year! Congratulations to the producing team!

  • 2017 BFF-grant winners Jim LeBrecht, Nicole Newnham and Sara Bolder have also just received grants from both NEH Media Development and from the Sundance Doc Fund for their film, Crip Camp.

  • 2013 Saul Zaentz award winners, Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg received a prestigious 2017 Gold AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award. Their film, My Love Affair with the Brain, on famed neuroscientist and former UC Berkeley professor Marian Diamond won for Television: In-Depth/Feature Reporting. 
Educational Workshops
Professional development workshops and networking opportunities are hugely successful.

Thanks to a generous grant from The Fleishhacker Foundation, BFF has offered filmmaker workshops to the larger independent Bay Area film community since 2015, attracting over hundreds of attendees to each. The Spring and Fall workshops are free and are held at The David Brower Center. Just some of the comments we have received:

  • "Excellent panelists."
  • "Lots of Information to process – Thank you BFF!"
  • "Excellent opportunity to ask REAL questions in a, surprisingly, more-intimate-than-expected venue."
  • "Thank you so much for these workshops, they’re invaluable."
Panelists in the 2017 series represented SF FILM, Film Independent, The International Documentary Association, Center for Asian American Media, Active Voice and ro*co films. The topics this year were: “Expanding New Opportunities for Independent Filmmakers” and “Before You Tie the Knot: Essential Conversations for Filmmakers & Partners.”
Our workshops provide the opportunity to meet industry professionals and schmooze with local filmmakers. The workshops are recorded and accessible on the BFF website . Please share! 
New and Ongoing Partners   
BFF success attracts new and continued partners eager to help filmmakers in their communities find the audiences for their unique stories, art, and current reports on topics important to us all. Thank you!

  • Thank you to the City of Emeryville, which has joined the BFF effort in recognition of the many independent filmmakers and student filmmakers living and working there.

  • The Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation provides support for BFF to fund Oakland filmmakers (our second year in that community) and for the next generation of filmmakers!

  • A 2012 BFF-grant winner for her film F-R-E-E, filmmaker Suzanne LaFetra has been a generous donor to BFF since 2015. We are extremely grateful for the year-end grant of $20,000 from the LaFetra Foundation.

  • Thank you for the vital continued support of The George Lucas Family Foundation, Fleishhacker Foundation, Bayer, LaFetra Foundation, Arent Fox LLP, Robertson Family Fund, Berkeley Civic Arts Commission, the Nancy P. and Richard K. Robbins Family Foundation, the East Bay Community Foundation, Walter J. Haas, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation, Kava Massih, Christopher Moscone, Pacific Gas & Electric, Van Acker Construction, Shartsis Friese LLP, Wilson Markle Stuckey Hardesty & Bott, LLP, and our founding members – The City of Berkeley, Wareham Development and the Saul Zaentz Company – who remain committed to BFF’s mission.
BFF Screening Series at The New Parkway      
A large, loyal audience attends the popular screenings of BFF-grant winning films. Join them!

Do you wonder where you can see great docs on the big screen? Join us at The New Parkway in Oakland where we show our grant winners film every other month. The filmmakers are always in attendance for a robust Q & A following the film. BFF shares a portion of the box office proceeds directly with the filmmakers. Be sure to check our website for the next screening.

Thank you, again, for your continued support. These films would not come to light without you.

The Berkeley FILM Foundation is most grateful for consideration in your year-end giving plans. We send our best wishes for the holiday season. Thank you!  

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