2019 New York City Film, Video and Digital Production Grants Announced

Dec 11, 2019

The Jerome Foundation Board of Directors authorized 12 grants based on the recommendations of the New York City Film, Video and Digital Production Grant Program Review Panel. This program supports production costs and post-production costs connected to the creation of new narrative, documentary, experimental or animated works in film, video or digital formats by early career filmmakers in New York City.

Of the 213 applications submitted, twelve grants totaling $345,100 were authorized for the productions described below.

Jessica Beshir

Jessica Beshir received $30,000 for Feyatey, a visual meditation on the unprecedented growth of Ethiopia’s khat industry. Khat, a mild narcotic leaf that induces fantasy, has become one of Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crops due to the massive unemployment of the youth. Beshir’s film weaves footage of the Khat trade with a series of intimate portraits of Oromo khat farmers and urban youth exploring the boundaries between fiction and real-life in this powerful visual and sonic experience.

Image from the film FEYATEY

Shirley Bruno

Shirley Bruno received $30,000 for Just-Come/Been-To, a triptych narrative exploring intimate spaces of women, their inherited land conflicts, and buried family legacy. Three stories unearth an interwoven tapestry in Haiti: a dream-well of collective memory reflecting on one’s spiritual connection to a land, its primitive memories, and the Caribbean dilemma of exodus and return. Drawing on her own Haitian heritage, Bruno explores philosophies, aesthetics, and rhythms of lived moments found distinctively in the Caribbean, particularly as it pertains to the lives of women. Her intimate and participatory approach recreates modern myths that expose the spaces between the physical and spiritual world.

Shirley Bruno

Arisleyda Dilone

Arisleyda Dilone received $30,000 for This Body, Too/Y Este Cuerpo Tambien. In this personal documentary, Dilone is faced with the decision to replace her expired breast implants or have them removed. She grapples with the concepts of femininity and gender norms as a Dominican immigrant intersex-woman. She simultaneously deconstructs her body and the multiple cultures and class perspectives that impose their values on her being. As a Latinx filmmaker, the intersections she inhabits resonate with both a queer and non-queer Latinx audience.

Image still of This Body, Too/Y Este Cuerpo Tambien.

Photo by Katia Repina

Charlotte Glynn

Charlotte Glynn received $30,000 for The Gymnast. A 14 year-old aspiring Olympic gymnast, Monica, and her single father, “gym dad,” fight to reinvent themselves after a potentially career-ending injury. Set in early 1990’s Pittsburgh, this feature-length narrative explores issues of sexual consent, cycles of mistreatment and the everyday struggles of poor working class families. Using her own experiences, Glynn brings nuance and compassion to the film, highlighting Monica’s attempts to make sense of her incredibly complicated father and her own struggle to find out who she really is.

Image still of The Gymnast

Jon-Sesrie Goff

Jon-Sesrie Goff received $30,000 for After Sherman, a film exploring coastal South Carolina as a site of cultural pride and racial trauma. Goff’s documentary looks at the layered socio-political implications of the Mother Emanuel Church slayings in Charleston, where his father was interim pastor. Goff’s relationship with his father is the focal point for intergenerational questions of Black American spiritual survival. This personal film grapples with how a new generation in the South approaches forgiveness, faith and healing in facing this repeated and painful history.

Jon-Sesrie Goff

Photo by Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich

Haisi Hu

Haisi Hu received $30,000 for Shopping for Love (working title), a fifteen-minute claymation and hand-drawn animated film about a woman addicted to virtual reality sex. When her waking life and dream life begin to overlap, she recognizes the danger she is in and the threat this technology poses to society at large. Tackling a taboo subject matter, Hu investigates new roles in a post-feminist society, looking at how the advancement of technology can better serve female needs, instead of putting women back into a conformist box of isolation.

Image still of Shopping for Love

Chithra Jeyaram

Chithra Jeyaram received $30,000 for Our Daughters (working title), a transracial open adoption story that flips the narrative. A single white mother makes a bold departure from the norm and chooses an Indian American couple to be her twin daughters’ adoptive parents. Drawn to stories at the intersection of race, religion, immigration, and family, Jeyaram’s documentary provides an immigrant’s perspective on interracial adoption while examining the development of cultural dexterity in familial settings.

Chithra Jeyaram

Shalini Kantayya

Shalini Kantayya received $30,000 for Code for Bias (working title). Merging cinema vérité and sci-fi elements, the film captures MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that most facial recognition software does not accurately see dark-skinned faces. Through Joy’s journey to push for the first-ever legislation in the U.S. to govern this technology, Code for Bias sheds light on the threat artificial intelligence poses to civil rights and democracy.

Shalini Kantayya

Photo by Omar Mullick

Keith McQuirter

Keith McQuirter received $30,000 for The 3,000 Project (working title), a documentary film exploring how Wisconsin, one of the states with highest rates of incarceration in America, abolished parole and changed the fate of 3,000 parole-eligible inmates in its prison system. The film shares personal stories of the impact parole laws and delves further into the state’s heated debates over solutions to reduce its massive inmate population.

Keith McQuirter

Photograph by George Del Barrio / The Vanderbilt Republic

Michael Premo

Michael Premo received $30,000 for an untitled feature film, description forthcoming at a later date. Premo is a filmmaker and impact producer, whose work illuminates timely issues of crisis and recovery through participatory documentary.

Isabel Sandoval

Isabel Sandoval received $15,100 for Lingua Franca, a narrative feature about an undocumented Filipina transwoman who works as a caregiver to Olga, an elderly Russian-Jewish woman with dementia. She becomes involved with Alex, Olga’s adult grandson, who is unaware that Olivia is transgender. This film, inextricably linked to Sandoval’s intensely personal journey, explores the nuanced and layered contemporary issues of immigration and transgender rights through the lens of a romantic drama.

Isabel Sandoval as Olivia in Lingua Franca

Photo by Isaac Banks

Mónica Savirón

Mónica Savirón received $30,000 for The Ledger Line. This experimental film enacts what ledger lines do, bringing voices difficult to be heard and be accounted for into the musical score. Shifting from archival and found footage to original imagery filmed by Savirón, this work extends the space for what one can hear and express, especially when it comes to sexism, racism, and climate crisis. Sound is the guiding force for the images to move and evolve, tracing lines of cause and effect between our actions and the world.

Mónica Savirón

Finalists include:

Corinne Botz, Mary Helena Clark, Scott Cummings, Katie Dellama, Ahmed Ibrahim, Toby Lee, Justice Nnanna, Theresa Ortolani, Bradley Tangonan, Sasha Wortzel