Rooftop Films announced Stefani Saintonge and Yvonne Michelle Shirley will receive a $15,000 grant to support the production of “Point 5,” a film inspired by the edicts of the Black Panthers that will explore radical liberation and the function of systemic oppression.
The duo’s past works include “Flowers,” “F*cked Like a Star,” “Black Girl Magic” and “Frame by Frame.” They, along with an anonymous Rooftop Films alum, are among the top recipients of the Water Tower Feature Film cash grants, which are supported by the Laurence W. Levine Foundation. In total, 18 cash and service grants are awarded to independent filmmakers to support their next short or feature film.
“This year’s grantees are bold storytellers who are pushing the boundaries of film and serial forms and changing the relationship between maker and audience as they create new art in response to the important issues of the day,” Laurence W. Levine Foundation board member James Levine said.
For 25 years, Rooftop Films has been a New York cultural institution and home for independent films. Its filmmaker grant program is open to the Rooftop Film Alumni who have previously screened their work during the organization’s annual summer series.
“Rooftop Films is thrilled to honor all of our alumni grantees this year,” Rooftop Films senior programmer Dominic Davis said. “Over 90% of our awards are going to projects directed or co-directed by women or filmmakers of color. We are proud to support filmmakers who are shining a light on the diverse communities and stories that deepen our understanding of life in New York City and the world today.”
Other feature film grant recipients include Jamil McGinnis and Pat Heywood for “In Search of Time”; Michael Almereyda for “Zero K”; Laura Moss for “birth/rebirth”; Steve Maing and Eric Metzgar for “The Great Experiment”; Jesse McLean” for “Light Needs”; Haley Elizabeth Anderson’s untitled project and Penny Lane’s “Confessions of a Good Samaritan.”
The short film grantees are Kandis Fay for “Little Joy”; Zelene Suchlit for “Se llamaba José”; Jing Wang and Mel Gonzalez for “No-contact Delivery”; Alex Wolf Lewis and Kaitlyn Schwalje for an untitled project about wild turkeys invading Staten Island; Charlie Shackleton for “As Mine Exactly”; Weronika Jurkiewicz for “First Date”; “Ashley Brandon for “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream at the End of the World”; Baloji Tshiani for “Black Dahlia”; Jessica Bishopp for “Puffling” and Laura Stewart for “Eat Your Carrots.”