December News

Hazy Shade of Winter

Welcome to December members! Here at WIFSFBA, we would like to celebrate all our collective filmmaking accomplishments this past year! Please join us December 14th for our first in person WIFSFBA Holiday Mixer in San Francisco (see details below). Come join in the merriment. Wear your favorite ugly holiday sweater. Then get ready for more creativity and inspiration in the new year!

- Nil Unerdem, WIFSFBA Secretary

*Title lyric reference courtesy of Paul Simon

Letter from the President

Esteemed Members of the Women in Film San Francisco Bay Area Community,

In the midst of the world's turmoil, when sorrow seems to be an all too common companion, how do we burrow into our hearts and locate a sense of gratitude? I often find myself pondering this question. However, I always return to a sense of profound appreciation, when I think about Women in Film San Francisco Bay Area.

Today, I express my deepest gratitude for the resolution of the strikes that have left an indelible mark on our community for an extended period. It was a long and arduous journey, it disrupted our lives and work profoundly. Yet, it was a necessary step in the march towards progress. It has served as a powerful reminder of the value of our labor, and the efforts required to ensure it is respected. It has breathed new life into our work ethic and reinforced our commitment to the cause.

As we approach the festive season, a time traditionally associated with giving thanks, how do we reconcile the lingering grief with the spirit of appreciation? I believe we find solace and purpose in our collective mission, in our shared dedication to nurturing our creative community and in the work that we do together. Your work matters and is an important way of giving back.

One of the ways we express our gratitude for the present and our hope for the future is by fortifying the Women in Film SF Bay Area (WIFSFBA) community. We aim to do this by expanding our membership, fostering community, partnerships, and ensuring our craft continues to flourish and evolve. Our Script Incubator, insightful panel discussions, and inspiring speakers and events are all a testament to this mission.

We are also committed to shaping a sustainable future for our community. By supporting the work of Women in Film in the Bay Area, we are contributing to a legacy that will inspire and support future generations. This is our way of expressing our gratitude for what we have and acknowledging our journey thus far.

As we approach the end of the year, I am pleased to announce that we will be hosting a Holiday Mixer on December 14th at Uno Dos Tacos, in San Francisco. This will be an opportunity for us to stay connected, feel the pulse of our times, celebrate our resilience and unity, and have some fun! We strive to stay close and support each other, keeping our creative abilities razor-sharp and competitive. This helps ensure that San Francisco remains a thriving hub of creative innovation.

In these tumultuous times, let's remember that we are a community brought together by our shared love for film, our commitment to gender equality, equity, and our unyielding belief in the power of storytelling.

As the President of WIFSFBA, I am forever grateful for your support and look forward to our continued journey together. I am wishing you and your family a happy holiday season.

Stay strong, stay creative, and keep making magic.

With gratitude,

Julie Rubio 

President, WIFSFBA

Infamous Women Who Helped Shape Film & Cinema History

Ongoing Newsletter Series - by Tasha Nesbitt

Throughout cinema and film history, there have been a handful of important yet infamous women. From making headlines with their roles on screen to inspiring defiant admiration from fans, these ladies have caused much chatter! Unfortunately, more often than not, the talk was in response to a notorious scandal or conflict that was too big to ignore. 

It's worth noting that these women were also talented individuals and made significant contributions to the film industry, even if they were also involved in scandals or controversies. Whatever their controversy may have been, these resilient women continue to remain an unforgettable and significant part of cinema's legacy. 


Jean Harlow was an American film actress who was born on March 3, 1911, in Kansas City, Missouri. She rose to fame during the 1930s, known for her beauty, charisma, and screen presence. Harlow was one of Hollywood's biggest stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood, appearing in over 40 films before her untimely death at the age of 26.

Harlow's early career was marked by a string of successful films, including Hell's Angels (1930), Red Dust (1932), and Dinner at Eight (1933). She quickly became known for her sultry, seductive screen persona, and her ability to play both comedic and dramatic roles.

Harlow was also known for her off-screen persona, which was often characterized by her frank, no-nonsense attitude and her willingness to speak her mind. She was one of the first Hollywood actresses to break away from the traditional "star" image, and was admired for her strength and independence.

Despite her success, Harlow's personal life was marked by tragedy. She was married three times, and suffered a miscarriage during her third marriage. Harlow's health began to decline in the early 1930s, and she was diagnosed with kidney disease in 1936. She passed away on June 7, 1937, at the age of 26.

Jean Harlow remains a beloved figure in Hollywood history, known for her beauty, talent, and pioneering spirit. She was one of the first actresses to break away from the traditional Hollywood mold, and her influence can still be felt in the film industry today.

By Tasha Nesbitt

Board of Advisors, WIFSFBA 2023-Present

Former WIFSFBA President 2019-2022

*This article was researched and written with the help of ChatGPT &, artificial intelligence driven writing tools.

Stay tuned for this series and our next featured filmmaker in the next newsletter!


Conversations and Connections -
Navigating Self-Distribution Panel Wrap Up

Thanks to everyone who joined us on 11/16 for our virtual panel on Self-Distribution with filmmakers Mye Hoang, Basil Shadid, and Lisa Hurwitz! We discussed strategies, challenges, and opportunities inherent in self-distribution with these filmmakers who have taken charge of their own distribution journeys. 

Thank you to Mye, Lisa, and Basil for their valuable advice and insight! And thank you to Nichole Carlson and Julie Rubio for producing this event, and Julie Rubio for moderating the panel!


From WIFSFBA Member C.M. Conway:

C.M. Conway's Bay Area and L.A. film, ‘How to Successfully Fail in Hollywood’ is now on Prime Video. It's an ode to friendship and artists trying to make it against all odds, who comprise most of the industry itself. The film is a champion of diversity, gender equity and inclusivity; featuring friends, fantasies and funny fails in a heartfelt journey of friendship and self-discovery. Due to its social value, it's been receiving great reviews and Conway has recently been featured on the Today website, Insider, New York Magazine, Authority Magazine and No Film School. 

Her new podcast on Apple and iTunes is named after the film and invites YOUR STORY of a slip-up that happened in the creative process and insights gained. The goal is to utilize stories as a bridge, and embrace flubs as part of the creative process. Please visit and click on 'share your story' to submit to be a guest on the show. 

Congratulations to C. M. Conway!

From WIFSFBA Member Darlene DeRose:

I am a new member and would like to share some news.  This past weekend, we attended our very first film festival - REEL Recovery. REEL Recovery showcases films about addiction, behavioral disorders, treatment and recovery.

Showing at the festival was very special to us, as our film, entitled “Finding Hope in America (Encontrando Esperanza en América)” is a documentary advocating for improved access to addiction treatment for Spanish speakers. This is a national problem which we want to bring to light in order to spark change. You can find out more about the film, and the national crisis, on our film website.

Already, the film has been used as a launching pad 1) to create a collective of local non-profits serving the Hispanic population and 2) to gain local government funding of an Hispanic Outreach Program newly created by Contra Costa-based non-profit Support4Recovery ( Now we start the work of reaching out to others who also want to create change. 

We did take a picture at the festival (attached - for reference, I am shown on the far right, the director is in the center, and an actress friend from another film is shown on the left.)

Congratulations Darlene!

From WIFSFBA President Julie Rubio:

I'm honored to be featured in an article by The Mamahood, and The Club, the largest support community for moms in the Bay Area, with over 100,000 diverse members! This incredible article takes you behind the scenes of independent filmmaking, highlighting both the challenges and triumphs I experienced throughout the process.

A big thank you to Heather Anderson for sharing my story and shedding light on the independent film industry and my journey in creating the independent film The True Story of Tamara de Lempicka & the Art of Survival.

It has also been listed on The M List, a searchable database of mom-recommended resources.

Join me on this extraordinary journey of bringing Tamara de Lempicka's story to life!

Congratulations Julie!

Article link: The Mamahood Blog - Julie Rubio

From WIFSFBA Member Anna Sophie Loewenberg:

It was truly a pleasure to lecture at the UC Berkeley East Asian library today on cross-cultural storytelling.  As expected, I was the one who came away learning the most from this exchange of ideas with a group of talented Chinese fashion entrepreneurs. My bestie from the SexyBeijing days was in the house; thank you Sam Guo from FashionReal.China! Sam reminded me that when he first saw my content, he was a college student in Henan with big dreams. Lucky me, he worked with me in Beijing for a few years. Now he’s gone on to influence the Chinese fashion industry from Italy, New York, Paris and beyond.

Awesome news Anna Sophie!

Do you have career news you’d like to share with fellow members?  

We’d really like to hear about any recent career accomplishments, awards, new ventures, or a positive experience having to do with our industry.  This is one of the advantages to being part of an organization like WIFSFBA -- by letting others know what you’re doing, you can expand your creative family and even  find new collaborators for future projects.   

So…take a moment to sit down and write something you’d like to share with your WIFSFBA sisters.  Then email that blurb and any related images to with ‘Members in the News’ in the subject line.  Do it now rather than next week -- you deserve to shine!  Submit by the end of the month to be included in the next newsletter.

Community Partners - Event Invitations

NYWIFT Feature Film Budgeting Workshop

Masterclass Series: Feature Film Budgeting

When:  December 4, 11, and 18th at 6:30PM ET/3:30PM Pacific 

Tickets: $20 - Virtual 

“Join NYWIFT for the next installment of their Masterclass Series: Feature Film Budgeting with Sirad Balducci. Budgeting a feature film can be daunting and overwhelming for any filmmaker, whether they are newcomers or seasoned professionals, and it is a critical step towards getting your movie financed.

In this three-part masterclass, we will demystify the budgeting process, offering insights into script breakdown and shoot schedules and covering fundamental budgeting basics. We’ll explore how to effectively collaborate with producers, directors, and department heads, and impart strategies to align your movie’s production plan with the creative vision of the project. The class is geared toward independent feature films in the 5M range, but also can be applied to short films as well. Materials and budgeting software trials will be provided prior to the start of the class and a Q&A will follow each session.” 

MORE INFO: Use code Budget20 for 20% off when you register here!

NYWIFT Free Screening: The ABC’s of Book Banning 

Watch online:  December 1-5, 2023

Live Virtual Q&A with Sheila Nevins on Tuesday December 5th @ 6pm ET

“By weaving together a lyrical montage of young readers and authors, this short doc reveals the voices of the impacted parties, and inspires hope for the future through the profound insights of inquisitive youthful minds.” Sheila Nevins is an American television producer and head of MTV Documentary Films division of MTV Studios. Previously, Nevins was the President of HBO Documentary Films and produced over 1,000 documentary films for HBO.”

RSVP for free:  The ABC's of Book Banning

Holiday Mixer!

When: December 14th, 5:00-7:00pm PST

Where: In person, Uno Dos Tacos, 595 Market St., San Francisco CA 94105

Come one, come all to our WIFSFBA Holiday Mixer. Bring your significant others and mingle with WIFSFBA for our first in-person event in a long time. Chat over margaritas or tacos as we discuss our accomplishments this year and make connections for future filmmaking collaborations.

Register: WIFSFBA Holiday Mixer

WIFT-US National Networking Night

When: Every second Thursday of the Month

Virtual Event - FREE for WIFSFBA members

Join us to network and meet other crew across the US!

Register:  Here


From WIFSFBA Member Kristin Tieche: The Invisible Mammal Sneak Peek FUNdraising Event

When: December 17th, 4-5.30PM, on Zoom

“Against the backdrop of the sixth mass extinction, a team of women biologists set out to save a North American bat species from a deadly fungal disease. As the disease reaches the far corners of the continent, a global pandemic attributed to a bat species in China interrupts their project, their jobs, and their commitment to protect bat species worldwide, an effort inextricably intertwined with our own survival.

The Invisible Mammal is a feature-length documentary film about bats, infectious disease, and women in science. In this intensely cinematic film, bats are rendered poetically visible: spectacularly streaming out of caves or bridges, or cradled in a gloved hand, wings extended. Wonder is the overriding emotion. Adventure is a key mood, along with mind-expanding discovery in the company of some of the most prominent human faces in bat conservation.

Catch up with The Invisible Mammal's filmmaking team on Sunday, December 17th at 4pm Pacific. We'll bring you up to speed with our progress on the film, and show you an exclusive cut, so you can see where all your previous support went. Then, we'll have time for a Q&A and the lucky winner of the raffle will be announced.

All registered guests will receive an email from the filmmaker with the Zoom link and a calendar invite to remind you of this FUN event. All donations made at the time of registration and during the event are tax-deductible.”

MORE INFO & TICKETS: The Invisible Mammal tickets

From Bravemaker - Empower Your Creative Journey:
From Set to Self Care Workshop

When: December 12th, 12:00-1:15pm, PST 

Where: Virtual

Cost: $18 (no one turned away due to lack of funds)

“Embark on a transformative 75-minute workshop tailored for the film industry. Join grief experts as we delve into managing grief, fostering resilience, and embracing self-care strategies. From mindfulness tools to collaborative project insights, discover how to navigate challenging seasons while nurturing your well-being.

Enter the holiday season and 2024 with an outline of *your* personalized plan to support you through difficult dates, stressful periods, and triggering moments.”

75-min workshop includes:

MORE INFO: From Set to Self Care

Beach Break Film Festival 2023

When: December 28-30th, various times                                                                                                                    
Where: Coastal Repertory Theatre, 1167 Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019                       
Tickets: $17-22

“Beach Break Entertainment, Half Moon Bay’s premier film entertainment source, proudly announces its Second Annual Beach Break Film Festival at the Coastal Repertory Theatre. Featured films illustrate the provocative and relevant topics about the humanity that connects and inspires us. Filmmakers will be on hand after each movie for Q&A sessions.” 

TICKET INFO: Beach Break Film Festival

Saturday Cinema: The Art + Science of Luminous Animations

When:  December 9th and 16th, 2023, 1-4pm                                                                                                            
Where: Exploratorium - Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green Street), SF 94111

Tickets:  $29.95-$39.95

“Celebrate the Exploratorium’s winter exhibition Glow: Discover the Art of Light with radiant animations, both meditative and kinetic. Presented by Cinema Arts, watch five short films that capture the holiday spirit, the translucent elements of nature, the radiance of winter’s starry skies and ancestral stories, and the science of salt crystals shaped like jeweled snowflakes.”

TICKET INFO: Saturday Cinema

Bay Area Film Mixer: Holiday Edition

When:  December 12, 2023 - 6:30-10pm PST                                                                                                                  
Where: 111 Minna St., San Francisco                                                                                                                                                        
Cost: $10-25

Celebrating the holidays AND networking with Bay Area Film Professionals…13 days early!!

TICKET INFO: Bay Area Film Mixer

AfroComicCon International Film Festival

When: December 7, 2023, 5:30-9:30pm                                                                                                                 
Where: Regal Jack London, 100 Washington St. Oakland, CA                                                                        
Tickets: $10-15

“Get ready to immerse yourself in a world of Afro-centric films that celebrate diversity, creativity, and representation. From powerful documentaries to thrilling horror, sci-fi, animation, fantasy, and social justice journeys, this event promises to captivate and inspire.”

MORE INFO: AfroComicCon International FF


Cascadia International Women's Film Festival - Script Studio

Festival Dates: April 25-28th, 2024 in Bellingham, WA

Submission Deadline: Jan. 15th, 2024

“CASCADIA International Women's Film Festival short film script submission is open now through January 15, 2024  for unproduced short film scripts of up to 20 pages written by women. Up to four will be selected for the festival's Script Studio on Sunday, April 28. (Festival dates are April 25-28.) Selected scripts will be read live by an ensemble of actors followed by a discussion with the writer by a panel of film industry professionals. If selected, writers must be available to attend. Details on FilmFreeway.

Since beginning seven years ago, CASCADIA has presented the films of more than 220 women directors. Currently, it is the only festival in the Pacific Northwest dedicated to showcasing the films of women directors.”

For more information, please check CASCADIA's FilmFreeway page or contact:

I was part of the festival last year with my short film and can attest it was an amazing event! It takes place in beautiful Bellingham, Washington. Hope to see you there!

-Nil Unerdem, WIFSFBA Secretary

Script Pipeline 2023 Pitch Contest

Deadline:  Dec 15, 2023

“The bi-annual 2023 Script Pipeline Pitch Contest is searching for original feature film and television series ideas -- distinct stories a global, diverse audience can connect with.  Any genre or budget, studio-level or indie, is accepted.  Entrants are not required to have a screenplay or pilot, and we help develop the selected projects.”

Submission Info: Script Pipeline Pitch Contest

Tribeca Film Festival

Festival Dates:  June 5-16, 2024

Official Deadline for 2024: Features - Nov. 27th, Shorts - Dec 15th                                             
Additional categories for submission (dates vary): Short/Long form pilots & series, Emerging media, Video game projects, and Audio storytelling

"The Tribeca Film festival is an annual film festival organized by Tribeca Productions. It takes place each spring in NYC, showcasing a diverse selection of film, episodic, talks, music, games, art and immersive programming."

Submission Info: Tribeca Film Festival

BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship

Deadline:  Dec 13th, 2023

The MediaMaker Fellowship is devoted to supporting documentary filmmakers using bold cinematic language and innovative impact strategies to grapple with critical issues of our time.

Our cohort is a collaborative, community-driven space that places diversity, representation, and ethical relationships with storytelling at the forefront of our practice. We aim to build a safe space for filmmakers to workshop their films, establish critical bonds and relationships, and gain valuable insights as they go on to build their careers in the field. We seek candidates who have the potential to impact our understanding of how documentaries can transform the world, as well as expanding the quality of the art of nonfiction.

Submission Info: BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship

Telly Awards

Deadline:  Dec 8th, 2023

“The Telly Awards honor excellence in video and television across all screens. Founded in 1979 to honor local, regional and cable television commercials, with non-broadcast video and television programming added soon after, the award has evolved with the rise of digital video to include branded content, documentary, social media, immersive and more.  The Telly Awards today celebrates the best work in the video medium in an exciting new era of the moving image on and offline.

The Telly Awards annually showcases the best work created within television and across video, for all screens. Receiving over 12,000 entries globally from 6 continents and all 50 states, Telly Award winners represent work from some of the most respected advertising agencies, television stations, production companies and publishers from around the world. The Telly Awards recognizes work that has been created on behalf of a client, for a specific brand and/or company (including your own) or self-directed as a creative endeavor.”

Submission Info: Telly Awards

Points North Fellowship

A launching pad for the next generation of nonfiction storytellers

Deadline:  Earlybird Jan 8th, Regular Feb 12, Extended Mar 25, 2024

“The Points North Fellowship invites up to six teams of early- and mid-career filmmakers to Maine to accelerate the development of their feature documentary, culminating in the public presentation of works-in-progress at the Points North Pitch. The Points North Fellowship aims to strengthen filmmakers’ artistic voices and propel their careers forward by facilitating new relationships with mentors, collaborators and funders. We believe that a strong community of support is vital for independent filmmakers who are taking bold creative risks and expanding the possibilities of documentary cinema. The Points North Fellowship is presented by the deNovo Initiative. 

The Fellowship begins during the week leading up to the annual Camden International Film Festival. In private workshops, Fellows receive rigorous feedback from mentors and peers as they practice their pitches, hone their vision for their film, and develop their funding and distribution strategies. These workshops culminate at the Points North Pitch, where each team pitches their project to leading funders, broadcasters, producers and distributors before a live audience – both in-person and streaming online. 

Since 2010, the program has championed 74 creative documentary features and has become recognized industry-wide as one of the most vital platforms for new artistic voices in the documentary field. Many alumni have gone on to receive support from major funders like the Ford Foundation, Macarthur Foundation and ITVS, premiered at festivals like Sundance, Berlin and Tribeca, and secured distribution from major platforms like Netflix, CNN Films, Magnolia Films and POV.

The Points North Fellowship will take place in person in Maine in conjunction with the Camden International Film Festival, September 12-15, 2024. The exact dates of the Fellowship will be announced soon.”

Submission Info: Points North Fellowship


Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship 2024

Regular Deadline:  December 31st, 2023

“The Screencraft Fellowship doesn’t just give out awards -- it starts writing careers. With the support of ScreenCraft, former fellows have been hired to write film and television by Netflic, Apple TV+, ABC, The CW, Amazon, FX, NBC, USA and Hulu. It is a virtual program designed to provide career guidance with personalized plans of action and thoughtfully curated industry meetings for emerging writers. Winners are also make meaningful connections with industry mentors.”

More Info:   Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship

Film Independent: Documentary Story Lab Grants 

Submission Deadline:  Non-member - January 15, 2024

“The Documentary Story Lab helps directors craft the best story possible for their documentary film. Over the period of one week, participants attend multiple workshops and sessions with guest speakers, established documentary directors, institutional funders, legal professionals, festival programmers and distributors. Fellows are paired with an experienced Creative Advisor and Editing Advisor who provide one-on-one support.  Lab culminates in a final pitch event that offers further opportunity for individualized feedback and discussion with industry execs.”

More Info: Documentary Story Lab


Vision Maker Media Submission Deadline: December 31, 2023 

“The call is directed towards emerging Native Filmmakers to submit a short film: documentary, drama, experimental or animation. Topic ideas may be about Native cultures, values, histories, contemporary life, environmental justice, social justice, youth, elders, and/or Native empowerment.  Within the fellowship, Funds support a film professional’s mentorship, and the production of a short film produced by an emerging Native filmmaker. Production costs may be funded in a request amount of up to $25,000.”

Submission Info: Creative Shorts Fellowship

Tribeca Untold Stories (with AT&T)

Submission deadline: February 6th, 2024

“Untold Stories is a multi-year, multi-tier alliance between AT&T and Tribeca Festival that awards $1 million dollars, mentorship, and comprehensive support to systemically underrepresented filmmakers to produce their films. This unique partnership has already made a major impact on inclusivity in film. Following the first four nationally-distributed films, Nigerian Prince, Lucky Grandma, Marvelous and the Black Hole, and Land of Gold, Smoking Tigers is currently screening on the festival circuit. Untold Stories’ next feature Color Book will premiere in 2024.

At the 2024 Tribeca Festival, 5 new talented and diverse filmmaking teams will pitch their original feature scripted film projects to an esteemed Greenlight Committee of industry professionals to decide who will be the next $1 million dollar prize recipient.

The winning film will be guaranteed a premiere at the 2025 Tribeca Festival, subject to timely delivery of the film, and dedicated distribution support. The additional 4 teams will receive a $15,000 grant for development support.

Participating films receive extensive exposure for their stories through dedicated content and press opportunities. Films in Untold Stories have the potential to connect with industry and audiences alike, which has allowed over 40% of all participating films to be completed.”

More Info: AT&T Untold Stories | Tribeca

Transgender Film Center - Trailblazer Grant

Applications Due: January 15th, 2024

“The grant is open to all transgender people, and will provide start-up and completion funds to qualifying narrative or documentary projects written, directed and produced by trans creators.  There will be two selected grant recipients who wil each receive $1,500 toward their films. While projects do not necessarily need to center on trans identity to be eligible, but they must be spearheaded by transgender people to qualify.”

MORE INFO:  Trailblazer Grant

Thanks to Newsletter Contributors:  Julie Rubio, Diane Walsh, Nil Unerdem, & Tasha Nesbitt

Newsletter designed by Lina Indeeva and edited by Nil Unerdem