January News

She was a January Girl...

Welcome to January members! The heading is courtesy of a song from Tori Amos (called Black Dove), one of my faves from the 90s. I can’t believe it’s been 24 years now since that decade. You’re only as old as how you feel they say…and I feel about 65. Or maybe I feel more like…40. Yes. Let’s stick with that.

Music is such an important part of filmmaking, bringing scenes to life and moving audiences. Currently, I’m still stuck on the Barbie album, listening to Dua Lipa's Dance the Night away and of course, Ryan Gosling belting out I’m Just Ken. But my most memorable experience with music in film was when I watched Philip Kaufman’s Unbearable Lightness of Being in a film class back in 2001. ​​ I found myself suddenly in tears without knowing why, during a scene where the main character (Daniel Day-Lewis)  first sees the love of his life (Juliette Binoche) jump into a pool. Awed at  the subtle notes of Leos Janacek’s The Holy Virgin of Frydek (Grave) that complimented both the visual disruption and the beauty of the beginning of their love story, I was amazed at how an art form could evoke emotion so quickly…

Anyway, I ramble on…here’s to hoping this next year is filled with inspiration for all of us in our creative endeavors! Let’s take a look at what we accomplished last year at WIFSFBA…

2023 End of Year Reflection

What a year! Hoping this upcoming year is also filled with inspiring and insightful events for our community. Happy 2024!

- Nil Unerdem, WIFSFBA Secretary

Letter from the President

Dear Members,

Happy New Year! This year at Women in Film San Francisco has been truly extraordinary, yet challenging. The current state of world affairs can indeed be disheartening, with war in Ukraine and the Middle East, the growing impact of climate disasters, and the strikes that shut us down but ignited our drive, strengthened our unity, brought us closer, and reminded us of our worth. However, amidst these challenges, it's important to acknowledge the sources of light and hope in our lives. For many, including myself, a profound source of daily gratitude amidst these turbulent times helps to navigate us through.

It was a busy year. We hosted exceptional programming, welcomed distinguished speakers, showcased captivating screenings, and organized inspiring events. These events were brought to you by our extraordinary board members and volunteers. I would like to offer a special thank you for your unwavering dedication and generous contributions to Women in Film in the San Francisco Bay Area—your efforts are truly extraordinary. Our organization continues to be strong because of you, all of which has left us feeling empowered and ready to make our mark in the industry in 2024.

Our mission has been to unite our film community and provide them with opportunities for growth, and as we move forward, we're dedicated to offering educational resources, mentorship opportunities, and a platform to highlight the remarkable talents of our members.

As we navigate the evolving landscape of the film industry, we recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion. Our organization remains dedicated to amplifying the voices of women from all backgrounds and experiences. We will actively seek out and support underrepresented talent, ensuring that our community reflects the rich tapestry of perspectives within the Bay Area.

I encourage each of you to engage with our organization in the coming year. Whether you're a filmmaker, screenwriter, actor, producer, or simply a film enthusiast, there are countless ways to get involved and contribute to our collective success. Your ideas, passion, and expertise are invaluable, and together, we can continue to make a meaningful impact.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Women in Film, San Francisco Bay Area. I am truly inspired by the dedication and creativity of our members, and as president I am eager to see what we will accomplish together in 2024.

Here's to a year filled with creativity, collaboration, and new opportunities. May it be a year of growth and empowerment for women in the film industry.

Warm regards,

Julie Rubio

President, Women in Film, San Francisco Bay Area

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. 


Joan Crawford was an American actress who was born on March 23, 1905, in San Antonio, Texas. She rose to fame during the 1920s and 1930s, becoming one of the biggest stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Crawford appeared in over 80 films throughout her career, and was known for her versatility, beauty, and magnetic screen presence.

Crawford began her career as a dancer, and made her film debut in 1925. She quickly became a popular star, appearing in films such as Our Dancing Daughters (1928) and Grand Hotel (1932). Crawford was known for her ability to play both dramatic and comedic roles, and was admired for her hard work and determination.

Despite her success, Crawford's personal life was often tumultuous. She was married four times, and had a famously contentious relationship with her adopted daughter, Christina Crawford, who wrote a tell-all memoir about her mother after her death. 

The book Mommie Dearest (published in 1978) detailed Christina Crawford's allegations of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her mother. The book became a bestseller and was later adapted into a film in 1981, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. The film garnered significant attention and sparked controversy as it revealed that Crawford struggled with alcoholism and a tempestuous personality.

Despite the controversies surrounding her personal life, Joan Crawford remains a beloved figure in Hollywood history. She was one of the biggest stars of her time, and her performances continue to inspire and entertain audiences today. Crawford was known for her fierce determination, 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 & Jasper.ai, artificial intelligence driven writing tools.

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


Welcome Darlene DeRose - New WIFSFBA Board Member!

We are very excited to announce Darlene DeRose has joined the WIFSFBA Board as of December 2023! We are grateful she has accepted to join our Board and help our mission to empower, promote, and celebrate women filmmakers in the SF Bay Area.

Darlene is a teacher, public speaker, group facilitator, and emerging producer in the San Francisco Bay Area. After earning her MBA at Yale University, she worked as a public finance consultant for 20 years, founding and operating a nationally ranked company.  In 2020, she founded ShadowPower Productions, creating docu-style visual media - documentary films, promotional content, campaign videos, and advocacy shorts. She works with clients as diverse as non-profits, government agencies, educational institutions, political campaigns, religious organizations, and volunteer groups. 

Darlene recently produced “Finding Hope in America (Encontrando esperanza en América),” an advocacy film that seeks to raise awareness of recovery services available for Spanish-speakers struggling with substance use disorder and to advocate for expansion of culturally appropriate treatment. The film won an award for Outstanding Excellence at the 2024 Hispanic International Film Festival. “Finding Hope in America” led to the award of a county-level grant to fund an Hispanic Outreach Program and initiated a working collaborative of organizations that offer services to the Hispanic Community.


Treasurer Carol Hall Interviewed for Verde Magazine

Our own Carol Hall was interviewed by Lizzy Williams for Palo Alto High School’s Verde Magazine about women and representation in the film industry! Check out the article here:  Where are the women? Community reflects on injustice faced in the film industry

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 bod-admin@wifsfba.org 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

REALScreen Summit - for WIFTUS/WIFSFBA members

Free for WIFTUS & WIFSFBA members

Deadline: Feb 1, 2024

“If you can't make it to the Real Screen Summit in New Orleans (Realscreen Summit), we have an opportunity for you! 

One of our Executive Producers, Carol Bidault,  would like to take a list of projects that need to be pitched. Her goal is to open up conversations about our WIFT Organizations and give more opportunity for WIFT Members!!

If someone wants to know more about your project, they will reach out directly to you!!

If you are interested here are the links:

RealScreen Submission Form

RealScreen Information


**** This is only for Active and Current WIFT / WIFSFBA Members*****”

*Note - the Real Screen Summit is for unscripted and non-fiction work.


You Can't Always Fix it in Post

Join Jack Lerner from UCI Law Clinic as he reveals the top ten legal pitfalls filmmakers face during production 

Jan 24th, 2024: 5:00-6:30 PM 

Virtual Event over Zoom 

WIFSFBA Members: Free

General Public: $10

For many indie filmmakers, just getting their story told requires total fixation on overcoming all obstacles—which can often turn into shooting first and asking permission later. But in the heat of the creative process, it’s easy to forget that the complexities of film production can become a legal minefield. In this essential talk with attorney Jack Lerner, avoid the traps, pitfalls, and common mistakes many filmmakers make all the way from pre production to distribution. 

Members may attend this workshop for free! The general public may attend for the low price of $10. 

Register here: Jack Lerner Event Registration

Script Incubator News

Are you a writer, actor, or producer with script experience? As a member, you are eligible to participate in the Script Incubator program. Would you be interested in doing table-reads of your scripts during monthly Incubator meetings? We are also assembling a database of actors to read parts and will read some parts ourselves. A 2021 table-read that we did of three short scripts, yielded helpful feedback for the writers, so perhaps Incubator writers would be interested in participating in them again. 

For January, we will read aloud up to 3 script portions of 1-10 pages each. No homework! We are also seeking actors to bring the parts alive so the scriptwriters can hear their words aloud. Each Zoom session will be recorded so the screenwriter can go back and see what worked and what didn't. And all participants will be encouraged to give feedback.

If you are an actor or know any actors who would like the experience of a table-read to add to an acting resume, or who simply wish to help out, please contact me. Even acting students who need volunteer hours for school would find this experience beneficial. 

Since the third Monday of January falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we are moving our January meeting to the fourth Monday, January 22nd, from 7-9 pm. If you have any questions about the table-read, please don't hesitate to contact me. And if you'd like to reserve a spot for January's meeting, please let me know. My contact information is below.

The other exciting news is that we will be holding another Pitch-A-Pro session in April. Last year, 7 industry professionals, mostly producers looking for new material, heard 31 pitches, and at least one meeting resulted in the screenwriter and producer signing a shopping agreement. This year, we hope to add agents, managers and streaming service reps to our list of pros. Stay tuned for more news as the event draws nearer.

Happy Holidays and best wishes on your film and media projects for the New Year!

Warm regards,

Carol Hall

WIFSFBA Script Incubator Coordinator 

MORE INFO: Email bod-admin@wifsfba.org with “Script Incubator” in the subject line

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


21st Annual Film Noir Festival

When:  January 19-28, 2024

Where:  Grand Lake Theatre -- 3200 Grand Ave. Oakland, CA

"Love Classic Hollywood Noir? Love Noir from Around the Globe? NOIR CITY Film Festival devotees will enjoy 10 dark days of noir-themed double features as they were meant to be seen -- on the big screen in a historic movie palace.  Proceeds from the NOIR CITY festival help fund the Film Noir Foundation’s restoration and preservation efforts year-round."

Ticket Info: 21st Annual Film Noir Festival

KMVT Studio Workshop

When: 4 sessions:  January 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st  |  6:30-9:30pm

Where:  2500 Old Middlefield Way, Suite F, Mountain View, CA 94043

"The KMVT Studio Workshop is your chance to learn all about the fascinating world of television production.  Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, this workshop will guide you through hands-on activities with equipment all the way through filming your first TV show."

Ticket Info:  KMVT Studio Workshop

Grizzly Film Festival

When:  January 20, 2024

Where:  Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, 2155 Center Street, Berkeley, 94720

Tickets:  FREE

"Grizzly Film Festival is the premiere student film festival of UC Berkeley aimed to celebrate the works and projects of undergraduate students residing in the Bay Area.  The festival is hosted by Delta Kappa Alpha Professional Cinema Fraternity with support of the University of California, Berkeley Film Department and the ASUC."

Ticket Info:  Grizzly Film Festival

Silicon Valley Video Summit

When:  January 23, 2024

Where:  Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd. Mountain View CA

Tickets:  FREE

"Big Tech is a burgeoning market for Video and Broadcast.  Big Tech companies have embraced Video as core technology and are transforming the way it is produced, distributed and stored.  The time is right for an annual meeting of these complementary communities. And the inaugural Silicon valley Video Summit will offer an annual exchange of Broadcast and Big Tech thought-leadership -- right in the heart of Silicon Valley." 

Apply to register:  Here

Candlelight: Magical Movie Soundtracks

When:  January 27, 2024

Where:  International Art Museum of America, 1023 Market Street, San Francisco CA

"Discover the music of magical movie soundtracks at the International Art Museum of America under the gentle glow of candlelight. Tentative program includes songs from Up, Toy Story, Frozen, Pocahontas, Mulan, Mary Poppins, Lion King, Willy Wonka, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the theme songs from The Avengers and The Mandalorian."

Ticket Info:  Candlelight: Magical Movie Soundtracks


HollyShorts Screenplay Contest

Festival Dates: August 8-17, 2024

Earlybird Submission Deadline: January 19, 2024

"The Academy Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival is an annual short film festival showcasing the best and brightest short films and short screenplays from around the globe.  The festival  is looking for the best short screenplays 30 pages or less and TV pilots 50 pages and under." 

Submit via Film Freeway:   HollyShorts Screenplay Contest 

Dreamscape International Film Festival (Houston)

Festival Dates: Sept 23 - Oct 1, 2024 in Houston, Texas

Submission Deadline: March 31, 2024

"The Dreamscape International Film Festival will host its inaugural event at the Star Cinema Grill in Houston from September 23rd to October 1 st 2024. The new festival will feature the largest monetary awards ever at a film festival or screenplay competition by awarding over $500,000 worth of cash prizes to both filmmakers and screenwriters. Celebrity guests at the festival will

include Brian Austin Green, Fivel Stewart and Sharna Burgess with additional guests to be announced.

The monetary awards will be divided into categories of Screenplays and Films. In the Screenplay section, the winner of the Grand Prize will receive monetary compensation of $125,000 as well as a budget breakdown and consultation on your film for pre-production, during filming and post-production. The runner up in this category will receive $25,000 with three 1-hour consultations.

Other awards include the Micro Budget Feature Film, which would require under a $200K budget. All of the Young Talent categories would focus on the filmmaker, director or writer to be 17-22 years old at the time of submission. Flash from the Past True Indie Award will be presented to full length and short films that were made between 2010 and 2021. with a budget of $200K or less as a feature and $100K or less as a short. The feature and short films that can submit will not have received prior distribution."

Submit via Film Freeway: - Dreamscape Intl Film Festival  

Female Eye Film Festival

Festival Dates:  July 24-28, 2024

Submission Deadline: January 31, 2024

"The Female Eye is a competitive international women directors’ film festival established in 2001. It  showcases high-caliber independent films that illuminate the best of debut, emerging, and established women directors from around the globe."

Submission Info:  Female Eye Film Festival

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: submissions@cascadiafilmfest.org

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

Palm Springs International ShortFest

Festival Dates:  June 18-24, 2024

Late Submission Deadline: February 1, 2024

"The Palm Springs International ShortFest is one of the largest showcases of short-form cinema in North America.  The seven-day competitive festival is Academy Award, BAFTA and Goya-qualifying, annually screening hundreds of shorts from approximately 60 countries. ShortFest accepts submissions up to 40 minutes in duration, in the form of both fiction and non-fiction shorts. Categories include Animation, Documentary and Live-Action."

Submit via Film Freeway:  Palm Springs Int'l ShortFest

26th Annual Sarasota Film Festival

Festival Dates:  April 5-14, 2024

Final Submission Deadline:  February 1, 2024

"This festival, one of the largest regional festivals in the world, is held in support of its mission to celebrate the art of filmmaking and the contribution of filmmakers.  Independent and International narratives, docs and shorts are programmed into a schedule of over 150 features and themed shorts packages."

Film Freeway Submission Info:  Sarasota Film Festival 

Black Women Film Network Short Film Competition

Festival Dates:  March 23-24,2024

Submission Deadline: February 24, 2024

"The Black Women Film Network was founded to prepare black women to enter the film and television industries.  Submitted shorts must be produced, directed by or featuring a Black woman in a leading role. Films cannot exceed 20 minutes running time."

More Info: Black Women Film Network Short Film Competition


Sundance Institute Sandbox Fund

Submission Deadline: February 5, 2024

"The Sandbox Fund offers grants, engagement events, and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative storytelling. The program is administered by the Sundance Institute Doc Fund in collaboration with Sandbox Films. Grants are offered to independent artists who are working at the intersection of science and non-fiction storytelling. Submissions are accepted at any production phase -- projects that have not yet secured characters or subjects, cannot articulate a story or structure, or cannot explain the project’s driving central question are discouraged."  

For more info:  Sundance Sandbox Fund

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

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

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

The Future of Film is Female Short Film Fund

Submission Period:  February 1-15, 2024

Notification Date: March 26, 2024

The FOFIF funds  short films directed by women or non-binary filmmakers for financial pre-production grants or post-production grants from Heard City (sound) and Nice Shoes (color).  Guidelines: No more than 20 minutes in length;  episodic works are not being considered at this time.

Submission Info:  Future of Film is Female Short Film Fund

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

Newsletter designed by Lina Indeeva and edited by Nil Unerdem