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Ford Producers Grant

Few festivals are able to truly make a difference in a filmmaker’s journey in getting their project to the big screen! Together, Ford and SVFF are doing just that.  It began in 2020 with a powerful story of injustice and redemption from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Jessica Sanders that, with the grant as its catalyst, is now in the works as a major motion picture.

In 2021, Ford and SVFF continue their partnership with a winning recipient receiving a $25,000 grant – a critical infusion to help a producer build their project from concept to completion. Projects will be reviewed by a committee including SVFF staff, industry experts and representatives from Ford. With the field narrowed to 3, the grant recipient will be selected by judge, Alice Gu. An award winning director and cinematographer, Gu wowed audiences this past year with her documentary feature The Donut King.

The selected winner will walk away with a $25,000 Ford Producers Grant to take their project one big step closer to reality.

submissions now closed

submissions now open

2021 Producers Grant Judge

Alice Gu

Alice Gu

Alice Gu is an award-winning director and director of photography. A Los Angeles native, Alice began her career as a director of photography, working with renowned directors Werner Herzog, Stacy Peralta, and Rory Kennedy, among others. Her commercial clients for print and live action include TBWA/ Chiat Day, Media Arts Lab, Deutsche, Edelman, Berlin Cameron, Cole & Weber, Pereira & O’Dell, Doremus, Publicis, Beats by Dre, Laird Hamilton, ESPN, FIFA, NFL, NHL, NBA, the WSL, Apple, Peta, and the American Humane Association. “Take Every Wave: the Life of Laird Hamilton” made its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017, a documentary film directed by Academy Award nominated director, Rory Kennedy, and lensed by Alice Gu. “The Donut King” is Alice’s feature directorial debut was slated to premiere in canceled 2020 SXSW film festival. Despite the cancellation, the film won the Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling, as well as the One in a Million Award at the canceled 2020 Sun Valley Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at the Bentonville Film Festival. A feature-length documentary about the rise and fall of a Cambodian refugee turned donut tycoon, “The Donut King” is executive produced by Academy Award-winners Ridley Scott and Freida Lee Mock.

2020 Winner

Jessica Sanders- Picking Cotton

Jessica Sanders

Jessica Sanders is an Academy Award – nominated, Sundance and Cannes Award – winning director and producer of narrative and documentary films and commercials. Her pilot “Embrace” just won the 2020 SXSW Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Episodic Pilot. She has been passionate about directing “Picking Cotton” since she featured Ronald Cotton and Jennifer Thompson’s exceptional story in her Sundance-winning documentary “After Innocence,” a game changer in criminal justice reform.

Picking Cotton

“Picking Cotton” is based on the New York Times bestseller about the riveting true story of Jennifer Thompson, a Southern white college student who was raped at knifepoint and Ronald Cotton, the black man she identified as her rapist.  After spending 11 years in prison Ronald was exonerated and freed, the first case overturned by DNA in North Carolina. The two are now friends and activists for criminal justice reform. In an amazing twist, Ron solved his own case when he realized he was serving time with the real rapist. John Grisham says, “Few stories of wrongful convictions have happy endings, but this one…is far different. It is the powerful account of violence, rage, redemption, and, ultimately, forgiveness.”