Dear BFF Friends:

Today, I write to you with tremendous appreciation for your past support, and to share news about how we have been working to fulfill our mission: to nurture, sustain and preserve the thriving local film community while attracting the next generation of filmmakers. Our 10th anniversary is coming in 2019, and we will want to celebrate it with you! Today, however, I want to ask for your continued support of our work.

As you know, the Berkeley FILM Foundation provides opportunities for many promising filmmakers to shed light on the lives and conditions of the most in need and under-represented. There are still too many people in dire situations and cultures in jeopardy so easily passed-over if not for the commitment we have to bring these stories out through documentary film. Our filmmakers do just this: they bring out these stories, the issues, the calls for action with their powerful lens and the invaluable documentary film production. These films are seen all over the world. And, it’s been said by many that BFF is the best educational program for independent filmmakers.

What we do at BFF is part of the solution to this troubled world, and our existence is critical. Social, historical and innovative documentary and dramatic works are part of getting us out of these troubling times. And, while it is inspiring that many of our grant winners have gone on to screen at U.S. and international film festivals, been recognized with prestigious awards, received television broadcasts, what makes us worthy of asking you for continued support is that we must continue to make a difference in the world.
There’s much to do in 2019. As you consider what to stretch for this year, please consider the following:

  • $20,000 or more enables us to provide a donor-named grant. (We seek two gifts at this level, to join the Al Bendich Award and the Saul Zaentz Award.) 
  • $12,000 enables us to fund an additional filmmaker. (Our goal is to fund three additional projects in 2019.)
  • $5,000 enables us to fund a student filmmaker. (Our goal is to support five students.)
  • $2,500 enables us to partially fund a student filmmaker.
  • $1,000 enables us to provide mentorship for a film project.
Our aspirational goal for this annual drive is $100,000 to support a vibrant community of filmmakers whose work is a credit to the Bay Area and those who support them.
Thank you again for making these films possible and for your significant role in our work to tell stories that need to be heard. Your generous support for this very promising year ahead will make all the difference, and I thank you in advance.

Warmest and best wishes for the holidays and the new year,

Abby Ginzberg
President, Board of Directors
Berkeley FILM Foundation
P.S. Before we close on our 9 th year, I want to share great news about our 2018 grant winners, all local filmmakers, who inspire us and their audiences worldwide including Student Oscar nominations and other awards at national and international film festivals. Please see below.
Sign My Name to Freedom
Song for Cesar
  • BFF-funded documentaries 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 2018 grant cycle, more than 120 applications were submitted and $229,000* was awarded to 19 professional filmmakers plus seven student filmmakers from UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Berkeley City College. *This is the largest dollar amount that BFF has allocated in 9 grant cycles.
  • Since 2009, BFF has awarded 140 grants totaling over $1.5 million, including 43 student grants.
  • The annual $25,000 Saul Zaentz Award went to Bryan Gibel and A.K. Sandhu, for their film Sign My Name to Freedom about Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest U.S. park ranger. Before becoming a ranger, Betty was a singer/songwriter in the 1960s and 70’s, with a voice like Billie Holiday and the relevance of Nina Simone.
  • The annual $20,000 Al Bendich Award went to Shareef Nasir and Dana Nachman whose film Case 993 dives into the contested history surrounding the assassination of Malcom X.
  • This year BFF welcomes back the City of Emeryville as a funder. Their $10,000 grant went to Emeryville filmmakers Andres Alegria for Song for Cesar and Rick Tejada-Flores’ film Troubled Water.

See the entire list of incredible 2018 BFF filmmakers and films on our web site .
BFF Grant Winners Continue to Garner Recognition 
Producing team: Rodents of Unusual Size
Frances Causey: The Long Shadow
Berkeley FILM Foundation grants help filmmakers leverage more financial support and awards.

  • Two 2018 student BFF grant winners from UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism – Grace Oyenubi and Nani Walker – were nominated in the Student Academy Awards category by AMPAS for their film Forced.
  • 2013 grant winners Quinn Costello and Chris Metzler continue to rack up impressive awards for the film Rodents of Unusual Size, including Best of Festival Award at the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, Special Jury Award at Mendocino Film Festival, and Excellence in American Profiles Award at SF Docfest. The film has screened in more than 60 locations throughout the U.S.
  • 2018 BFF-grant winners Frances Causey and Jed Riffe have been busy screening the film The Long Shadow at The Amsterdam International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema, Mill Valley Film Festival, International Black Film Festival, St. Louis International Film Festival and dozens more.
  • 2018 winners Lacy Jane Roberts, Luisa Conlon and Hanna Miller’s film We Became Fragments was selected as a New York Times Op-Doc and recently won best documentary at the LA Shorts Fest which qualifies it to be considered for an Oscar Nomination!
  • 2013 Saul Zaentz award winners Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg were nominated for an Emmy this year for their film My Love Affair with the Brain about famed neuroscientist and former UC Berkeley professor Marian Diamond.
  • 2016 winners Katie Galloway and Dawn Valadez’s film The Pushouts won Best Documentary at the Imagen Awards and is scheduled for a PBS broadcast in 2019. 
Educational Workshops
Professional development workshops and networking opportunities are hugely successful.

We are incredibly proud of the professional development workshops and networking opportunities we are able to provide to the local filmmaking community.
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 hundreds of attendees each year. 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.”
  • “Information you can put to work.”
  • “BFF is truly interested in building the community of independent filmmakers.”
  • “Thank you so much for these workshops, they’re invaluable.”
This year, panelists Helen De Michiel, jesikah maria ross, and Elizabeth Miller presented their “Shapeshifting Documentaries: A Toolkit for Filmmakers,” a collaborative approach to doc filmmaking. In the fall session, Matt Chandler and Michelle Fawcett of Indie Visible engaged participants in a step-by-step process for crafting and executing a hybrid strategy for film distribution.
Our workshops provide the opportunity to meet industry professionals and schmooze with local filmmakers. The workshops are recorded and accessible for sharing on the BFF website .
Ongoing Partners   
BFF continues to attract new funders while long-time partners return every year 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!

  • 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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