Two women holding oscars

Film Finishing Fund

Promising women-directed films are awarded grants enabling them to complete production, going on to gain distribution and win top awards.

One of the most challenging obstacles facing women filmmakers is access to capital, even for seasoned creators. Our research has shown that women continue to deal with particular gendered biases that make it harder to secure financing. Since its inception in 1985, the Film Finishing Fund has awarded over two million dollars in cash and in-kind services to 280 films from all over the globe. We have had an impressive track record of selecting recipients that have gone on to win Academy, Emmy, Sundance, Berlinale, and Peabody Awards, as well as distribution and other recognition.

Applications to be announced; please subscribe to our newsletter or check back on this site for updates.

The WIF Film Finishing Fund is supported by Stella Artois and Delta Air Lines.

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PAST GRANTEES HAVE GONE ON TO...

2020 Grant Recipients

A Cops and Robbers Story
Stella Artois Grantee

Directed by Ilinca Calugareanu

A Cops and Robbers Story
Stella Artois Grantee

Directed by Ilinca Calugareanu

Documentary Feature

Logline
One man, two lives, and the 24 hours that changed everything.

Ilinca Calugareanu, Director
Calugareanu’s instinct guides her into discovering stranger than fiction stories and larger than life characters. Blending absurd and playful tones, her films are a breathtaking mix of fiction and documentary that immerse audiences into worlds beyond imagination.

Her debut feature documentary CHUCK NORRIS VS. COMMUNISM premiered at Sundance 2015 and went on to play in cinemas and festivals around the world. Calugareanu is currently in pre production on the feature film HOW COULD I BE DEAD AND NOT KNOW IT, and in production on the series “Celluloid Dreams.” She is a Berlinale Talents alumna (2017), 2018 Chicken & Egg Accelerator Lab grantee, the 2018 Sundance Institute and National Geographic Further Filmmaker fellow, and the 2019 Sundance Music Labs directing fellow.

I'll Meet You There
Stella Artois Grantee

Directed and Written by Iram Parveen Bilal

I'll Meet You There
Stella Artois Grantee

Directed and Written by Iram Parveen Bilal

Narrative Feature

Logline
A Muslim cop goes undercover at his estranged father’s mosque while his daughter hides her passion for a forbidden dance, uncovering a shocking family secret.

Iram Parveen Bilal, Writer/Director
Raised in Nigeria and Pakistan, Bilal is a Physics Olympian turned filmmaker. She just lensed her third feature film, I’LL MEET YOU THERE, a family drama about a Muslim cop and his teenage ballerina daughter. The project was a Film Independent Writer/Director Lab project. She was one of 15 directors invited to Cinefondation’s L’Atelier at Cannes 2019 for her feature project WAKHRI (ONE OF A KIND), based on a social media star in Pakistan. Bilal is currently actively looking to direct television and is also developing TV projects set in the U.S. and South Asia.

Her past noted feature length works include JOSH (AGAINST THE GRAIN), Pakistan’s first film to be on Netflix and in the permanent collection at the U.S. Library of Congress, and THE PHD MOVIE: STILL IN GRAD SCHOOL. An avid public speaker and activist, she just wrapped a four-year term as co chair of the Asian American Writers Committee at the WGA and is an active board member for the Caltech Y, a leading community service organization affiliated with her alma mater, the California Institute of Technology. Bilal initiated the Pakistani Oscar committee and is the founder of Pakistan’s first professional screenwriting lab (Qalambaaz). She is a Thomas J. Watson, Women In Film, Film Independent, and CAPE fellow, and an active member of the Alliance of Women Directors and Film Fatales, both organizations vested for fair representation of female directors in the entertainment industry. She believes that genuine curiosity is the antidote to fear.

Lorelei
Stella Artois Grantee

Directed and Written by Sabrina Doyle

Lorelei
Stella Artois Grantee

Directed and Written by Sabrina Doyle

Narrative Feature

Logline
A man is released from prison after 15 years. He reunites with his high school girlfriend, now a single mother of three. What follows is a lyrical take on love, regret, and second chances.

Sabrina Doyle, Writer/Director
Doyle is a British writer and director based in Los Angeles and London. She’s currently in post-production on her feature directing debut LORELEI, starring Pablo Schreiber and Jena Malone, and produced by THE FLORIDA PROJECT’s Kevin Chinoy. Sir Alan Parker has called her work “outstanding […] refreshingly intelligent, serious and lyrical. Much needed in tomorrow’s cinema.”

Doyle’s directing work has been supported by Google, Panavision, the Mary Pickford Foundation, BAFTA Los Angeles—and now WIF. Her shorts have been seen on the pan-European television network ARTE, the cable channel ShortsTV, and the streaming service Fandor, as well as at dozens of international film festivals. She was also honored by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) as a “Brit to Watch,” and chosen to participate in the inaugural Sony Pictures Entertainment Diverse Directors Program. Doyle’s sci-fi spec script ASTER’S RITES was a Top 50 Nicholl Fellowship Semifinalist. She’s currently working on a historic true crime screenplay for producer Robert Cort (ON THE BASIS OF SEX) and Participant Media (ROMA, SPOTLIGHT). Previously, Doyle worked as a BBC journalist for six years, producing content for the UK’s flagship news programs, including “Today” and “Newsnight.” Doyle was born in London to an Irish father and Italian mother. A first-generation high school graduate, she got top Bachelor’s and MPhil degrees from Cambridge University, where her work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. She subsequently won a Fulbright Scholarship to attend the American Film Institute, where she completed her MFA in Film Directing.

And She Could Be Next
Stella Artois Grantee

Directed by Grace Lee and Marjan Safinia

And She Could Be Next
Stella Artois Grantee

Directed by Grace Lee and Marjan Safinia

Documentary Feature

Logline
As American demographics rapidly shift, a defiant group of women of color are transforming politics from the ground up. As candidates and organizers, they are harnessing the political power of the New American Majority. AND SHE COULD BE NEXT, made by a team of women of color filmmakers, asks whether democracy itself can be preserved—and made stronger—by those most marginalized.

Grace Lee, Director
Grace Lee directed and produced the Peabody Award-winning AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE EVOLUTION OF GRACE LEE BOGGS about the legendary civil rights activist which The Hollywood Reporter called ”an entertainingly revealing portrait of the power of a single individual to effect change.” The film won multiple festival audience awards and was broadcast on the PBS documentary series “POV.” Other directing credits include the Emmy-nominated “Makers: Women in Politics” for PBS, the interactive online documentary KTOWN ‘92 about the 1992 Los Angeles civil unrest, OFF THE MENU: ASIAN AMERICA, and the feature film JANEANE FROM DES MOINES, set during the 2012 presidential campaign, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. She has been a Sundance Institute fellow, a 2017 Chicken & Egg Breakthrough Award winner, an envoy of the American Film Showcase (through USC and the U.S. State Department), and is co-founder of the Asian American Documentary Network. She’s currently a producer/director on a five-part PBS series, “Asian Americans.”

Marjan Safinia, Director
Marjan Safinia is an Iranian documentary filmmaker whose films examine identity, community, and social justice. BUT YOU SPEAK SUCH GOOD ENGLISH explores the first-generation immigrant experience from an insider perspective. SEEDS tells the story of ten brave teenagers from the world’s most troubled conflict zones living side-by-side for one life-changing summer. Collectively her films have played at over 100 international film festivals and been broadcast in North America, Europe, and across the Arab world. Most recently she produced and directed work for Google founder Sergey Brin, the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton’s Next Generation. Until 2018, Safinia was the longest serving President of the Board of Directors of the International Documentary Association (and the only woman of color to lead this organization since it was founded in 1982). She co-hosts the preeminent online documentary community The D-Word, and is a regular juror, programmer, speaker, and connector of all things documentary.

Belly of the Beast

Directed by Erika Cohn

Belly of the Beast

Directed by Erika Cohn

Documentary Feature

Logline
Belly of the Beast intimately chronicles the journey of women fighting reproductive injustice in their communities.

Erika Cohn, Director
Erika Cohn is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director/producer who Variety recognized as one of 2017’s top documentary filmmakers to watch, and was featured in DOC NYC’s 2019 “40 Under 40.” Most recently, Cohn completed THE JUDGE, a Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated film about the first woman judge appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a courts, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS’ 2018 “Independent Lens” series. Cohn co-directed and produced IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST, an Emmy Award-winning feature documentary about young Pacific Islander men pursuing their dreams of playing professional football, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS’ 2016 “Independent Lens” series. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including a Directors Guild of America Award for her film WHEN THE VOICES FADE, a narrative profile of the Lebanese-Israeli war of 2006, and has been a featured panelist/speaker at various film festivals and university conferences across the globe. Her work has been supported by IFP, the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Institute, Hot Docs, Sheffield, ITVS, WIF, BAVC, and the CPB Producers Academy, among others. Cohn grew up attending the Sundance Film Festival as a native Utahn, where she first began her career. She studied at Chapman University (California) and Hebrew University (Jerusalem), and has degrees in Film Production, Middle East Studies, and Acting Performance. In 2013, Cohn founded Idle Wild Films, Inc., which has released three feature documentaries and produced numerous branded content and commercial spots, including Gatorade’s “Win from Within” series, for which she received a 2016 Webby Award nomination. She is currently developing her feature narrative debut and will be releasing the feature documentary BELLY OF THE BEAST in 2020.

Daughter of a Lost Bird

Directed by Brooke Swaney

Daughter of a Lost Bird

Directed by Brooke Swaney

Documentary Feature

Logline
What does blood have to do with identity? Kendra Mylnechuk, an adult Native adoptee born in 1980 at the cusp of the enactment of the Indian Child Welfare Act, is on a journey to reconnect with her birth family and discover her Lummi heritage.

Brooke Swaney, Director
Brooke Pepion Swaney (Blackfeet/Salish) is a 2014 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation fellow and a 2013 Time Warner fellow through the Sundance Institute. OK BREATHE AURALEE, her NYU graduate thesis film, screened at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has TV distribution with FNX (First Nations Experience, a PBS affiliate). Along with editing, Brooke’s experience also includes producing BELLA VISTA (Rotterdam 2014) and the Vision Maker Media-funded New Media project, short program SIXTY FOUR FLOOD (PBS & PBS Digital). She also worked with Revolution Messaging on the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign on their digital media team (producing, directing and editing); her Native Outreach ad I AM HUMAN received over 3 million hits on Facebook. Presently, she is in post-production on her first feature length documentary, DAUGHTER OF A LOST BIRD, funded by Vision Maker Media.

Apátrida (a.k.a. Stateless; formerly For Moraime)

Directed by Michèle Stephenson

Apátrida (a.k.a. Stateless; formerly For Moraime)

Directed by Michèle Stephenson

Documentary Feature

Logline
In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were murdered by the Dominican army, many on the basis of their skin colour alone. The so-called “Haitian Problem” was an attempt to control the border between the two countries and whiten the Dominican population, led by a dictator obsessed with race. In 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929. The ruling rendered more than 200,000 people stateless, without nationality, identity, or a homeland.

Director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary APÁTRIDA (STATELESS) traces the complex tributaries of history and present-day politics as state-sanctioned racism seeps into mundane offices, living room meetings, and street protests. Anyone defending marginalized groups faces threats of violence. In this dangerous climate, a young attorney named Rosa Iris mounts a grassroots campaign, challenging electoral corruption and advocating for social justice. As Rosa balances her congressional run with her dedication to her family and community, the full scope of her fight is revealed. Filmed in chiaroscuro colours, and shot through with elements of magical realism, APÁTRIDA (STATELESS) combines gritty hidden-camera footage with the legend of a young woman fleeing brutal violence to flip the narrative axis, revealing the depths of institutionalized oppression.

Michèle Stephenson, Director
As co-founder of the Rada Film Group, Michèle Stephenson pulls from her Panamanian and Haitian roots and experience as a human rights attorney to tell provocative stories that speak to personal and systemic liberation. Her films have been nominated for three Emmys. Her collaborative series with NYT Op-Docs, A Conversation on Race, won the 2016 Online Journalism Award for Commentary. She was recently awarded the Creative Capital Fellowship and the Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Current projects include two nonfiction features and an immersive time travel collaboration.

Unpot

Directed, Written, and Edited by Huieun Park

Unpot

Directed, Written, and Edited by Huieun Park

Narrative Short Film

Logline
A quiet day for an elderly mother who is led through the door to the final stage of her life.

Huieun Park, Director/Writer/Editor
Huieun Park is a Korean filmmaker and multimedia artist. She studied Korean Language and Literature at Yonsei University. She moved to Los Angeles in 2010 to earn a Master’s degree in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts. Park has written, directed, and produced several short films and one feature. She has explored the inner frameworks of people who have experienced forced displacement or isolation from family and from other social interactions. Her films have screened at various film festivals such as Athens International Film and Video Festival, Austin Film Festival, and CAAMFest (Center for Asian American Media Festival).

Lupita

Directed by Monica Wise Robles

Lupita

Directed by Monica Wise Robles

Documentary Short Film

Logline
A Tsotsil Maya massacre survivor becomes a spokesperson for her people amid a Mexican indigenous movement led by women.

Monica Wise Robles, Director/Cinematographer
Monica Wise Robles is a Colombian-American documentary filmmaker and video journalist based in Mexico City. Her work focuses on intimate stories of resistance across borders to highlight feminist, LGBTQ, migrant, and indigenous narratives. Monica’s work can be seen in The Guardian, The Intercept, The Atlantic, TeleSUR, Al Jazeera, MSNBC, PBS, History Now, BBC Travel, and NBC Latino. She worked on Pamela Yates’ 500 YEARS, a feature documentary chronicling indigenous resistance in Guatemala which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Wise Robles was also a producer and cinematographer on “The New Deciders,” a 2016 PBS election special with journalist Maria Hinojosa. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she has also produced work from Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, and El Salvador. She is currently directing two documentary films exposing state human rights abuses in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico through the eyes of female survivors seeking justice. Monica is an International Women’s Media Foundation Adelante fellow, a UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program Associate, a Ford and Sundance Institute grantee, and was selected for Take The Lead’s #50WomenCan program for women working to change the gender gap in the media industry.