November News

Native American Heritage Month

November is National Native American Heritage Month! Please join us in celebrating and supporting the creative works and contributions of Native American and Indigenous storytellers with the American Indian Film Festival and the Red Nation International Film Festival…happening this month!

I know I’ve enjoyed seeing more Native American characters and stories onscreen recently. My favorite show is Reservation Dogs on Hulu. Check it out if you haven’t already! Also, this great film by director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. from Sundance back in 2021 starring the talented Michael Greyeyes and amazing Chaske Spencer:  Wild Indian (2021) - IMDb

Also, check out this list of films to watch in honor of American Indian Heritage Month, compiled by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill: Forty-two films to watch during American Indian Heritage Month - UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries

-Nil Unerdem

48th Annual American Indian Film Festival - Hybrid Series

When: November 3-11, 2023

Where: San Francisco & online

“The mission of the American Indian Film Institute is to foster understanding and appreciation of the culture, traditions, and issues of contemporary American Indians.  AIFI supports filmmakers whose work expresses the native voices, viewpoints, and stories historically excluded from mainstream media; develops stories traditionally excluded from mainstream media; creates audiences for their work; and advocates for authentic representation of American Indians in the media.” 

Tickets and Schedule: American Indian Film Festival 48

Red Nation International Film Festival

When: November 1-30, 2023

Where: Los Angeles & online November 13-30, 2023

The Red Nation International Film Festival is the connection to cultural bridging of independent Native Indigenous artists and audiences, amplifying emerging voices and perspectives for the Native Indigenous storyteller. RNIFF is dedicated to breaking the barrier of racism by successfully replacing American Indian stereotype with recognition, new vision, arts, culture and economic prosperity by placing American Indian Filmmakers at the forefront of the entertainment industry and to introduce American Indian Filmmakers to larger, global mainstream audiences while championing Native Women in Film & Television and giving voice and inspiring native youth with our dedicated program Native Youth Matter™ – If I Can See It I Can Be It.™

This year’s festival will include hybrid in-person and virtual events dedicated to increasing the visibility of American Indian and Indigenous storytellers and artists in the entertainment landscape.” 

MORE INFO, Tickets and Schedule: Red Nation Film Festival

American Indian Cultural District

“Founded on March 31st, 2020, the American Indian Cultural District (AICD) is the first established Cultural District of its size in the United States dedicated to recognizing, honoring, and celebrating the American Indian legacy, culture, people, and contributions.” 

MORE INFO: American Indian Cultural District

Gatherings & Events — American Indian Cultural District

N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear at the SF Public Library

When: November 2, 2023 3:00-4:30pm Pacific

Where: Golden Gate Valley Meeting Room, 1801 Green St., San Francisco, CA 94123

“When N. Scott Momaday (b. 1934) won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for his first novel House Made of Dawn, it marked one of the first major acknowledgments of Native American literature and culture. House Made of Dawn tells from multiple viewpoints the story of a young man returning home to his Kiowa pueblo after service in the U.S. Army. Now Momaday’s body of work comes to life in this biography of the celebrated Native American storyteller. A PBS documentary, with contribution from Robert Redford. NR, 84 min., 2019. Closed captions (CC) in English.” Sponsored by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library."

MORE INFO: Film: N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear | San Francisco Public Library

Letter from President Julie Rubio

Dear Members,

Women in Film SF Bay Area shares in the profound grief that our community is experiencing in light of the ongoing violence and tragic loss of innocent lives in Israel and Gaza. As an organization dedicated to storytelling, we have cultivated long standing relationships with Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers who have generously shared their work with many of us here in the Bay Area. Through their work, we have gained empathy and understanding.

We are committed to nurturing a community that builds bridges and rejects hate, division, and fear. Our thoughts are with all those within the WIFSFBA community, as well as those beyond it, who are affected by the pain and trauma of this moment. We sincerely hope for a peaceful resolution to this terrible violence.

In solidarity,

Julie Rubio & the Board of Directors

President of Women in Film San Francisco Bay Area

Important 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. 


Lupe Velez was a Mexican actress and singer who became a popular star in Hollywood during the 1920s and 1930s. She was born on July 18, 1908 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico and died on December 14, 1944 in Beverly Hills, California.

Velez began her career as a dancer in Mexico before moving to Hollywood in the late 1920s. She quickly became a popular star, known for her fiery personality and passionate performances. Velez appeared in dozens of films throughout her career, including The Gaucho (1927) with Douglas Fairbanks and Hell Harbor (1930) with Jean Hersholt.

Velez was known for her distinctive personality and was often referred to as the "Mexican Spitfire" for her fiery temper and quick wit. She was also a talented singer and dancer, and often incorporated these talents into her film performances.

Despite her success in Hollywood, Velez struggled with personal problems throughout her life. She was involved in several tumultuous relationships, including a highly publicized affair with actor Gary Cooper. Velez also struggled with depression and addiction, and ultimately took her own life in 1944.

Despite her tragic end, Lupe Velez remains a beloved figure in Hollywood history. She was one of the first Latina actresses to achieve mainstream success in Hollywood, paving the way for future generations of Latina performers.

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!


The Young Women Writers Screenwriting Contest: Wrap Up

Thanks to everyone who joined us on 10/14 for a joint presentation by the Intuitive Writing Project (TIWP) and Women in Film San Francisco Bay Area (WIFSFBA), the Young Women Writers Screenwriting Contest! Three scripts were selected and pages read aloud during the event, with feedback from WIFSFBA Board members as panelists. 

Thank you to Josslyn Grover, Ava Rukavina, and Samantha Jimenez Garcia for sharing their scripts with us and to Scarlett Mosher for moderating! And finally, thank you to Carol Hall, Kelli White, and Nil Unerdem for their feedback on the work of these amazing young writers!

Interview with our President Julie Rubio - 

Wrap Up

Many thanks to everyone who joined us on October 15th for an engaging conversation with our WIFSFBA President, Julie Rubio in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month! Julie's story serves as an inspiration to many Latina women and minorities. Shoutout to Noni Virani and the amazing WIFSFBA Board Members for executing this remarkable event!

SAG/AFTRA Strike Update

Following up from our last newsletter, we wanted to update our community about the ongoing SAG/AFTRA strike. 

The actors' strike nears its conclusion as SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP make significant progress in negotiations, reaching tentative agreements on key deal components. Hopes are high for a resolution as early as this or next week. SAG-AFTRA's chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, expressed cautious optimism, citing progress from the picket lines. However, caution is advised as contentious matters remain unresolved during ongoing talks to end the strike that has halted production for over 100 days and caused schedule disruptions in the entertainment industry.

As the clock ticks, SAG-AFTRA and the studios engaged in intense negotiations over the weekend, leaving no stone unturned. With the start of a new week, both parties are regrouping independently before reconvening back to the negotiating table.

The stakes couldn't be higher for both sides. The studios are desperate to kickstart production urgently, hoping to salvage the winter half of the television season. Meanwhile, thousands of actors find themselves in increasingly dire straits, desperately in need of a paycheck. If production doesn't resume promptly, the shortened television seasons will be tossed aside, leaving sets empty until next year, regardless of whether a deal is reached in November or December. This would mean enduring the holiday season without work for actors, crews, and much of the Hollywood industry. Crabtree-Ireland keenly feels the weight of these pressures, fueling his sense of urgency to reach a resolution.

In this moment, a glimmer of hope shines through me, and hope is not a trait reserved for the faint-hearted. My hope is that these negotiations over the next few weeks go well and that it is time for everyone to return to their passion and embrace the work we love. However, I acknowledge that the outcome is not solely within our control. Let us eagerly await the forthcoming weeks and witness what these negotiations have in store. I choose to embrace optimism wholeheartedly, leaning into its power.

-by Julie Rubio

From WIFSFBA & Script Incubator member Kate Schultz:

My short-film screenplay ‘Sick Day’ was shortlisted by competition judges at the London-based Women Over Fifty Film Festival 2023. I didn't win, and could not travel to London, but as a finalist I was able to attend several online meetings with other shortlisted, or winning, writers and filmmakers. These events were inspiring. 

The requirements for WOFFFs 2023 fest were that produced films -- both fictional and documentary --  and unproduced screenplays had to have a writer, producer, director OR protagonist who is a woman over fifty.

Many women younger than 50 participated, as well as many men. As the founders say, "a teenage boy who makes a documentary about his over-50 grandmother can enter." 

The fest participants included many U.K. filmmakers. The international festival also drew many U.S. submissions, as well as those from Ireland, Canada, China, Germany, Netherlands and more.

My short script ‘Sick Day’ is set during the pandemic. It's about a  woman who wants to get a Covid vaccine, but her abusive husband prevents her from doing so. So she secretly gets the vaccine.

I'm over 50, and my protagonist is as well. 

Kate  Schultz has written five short film scripts for which she’s seeking executive producers (including Sick Day), along with  four feature-length scripts. Her short film Perishables in Love was screened at the Oxnard Film Fest several years ago. As a journalist, she authored dozens of news and website articles covering science, medical innovation, lifestyle and the arts.

Congratulations to Kate for being a finalist! Looking forward to hearing of many more awards and wins for her in the future.

Do you have some 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.

New Community Partners - Event Invitations

New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT)

Masterclass Series: Nonfiction Audio Development

When:  November 1, 16, and 30th at 6:30PM ET/3:30PM Pacific 

Tickets: $20 - Virtual 


“Join NYWIFT for their next Masterclass Series: Nonfiction Audio Development with film producer turned podcaster Jamie Zelermyer (I Was Never There). Audio storytelling is more popular than ever and can often be a less expensive option for creators. When it seems impossible to get a project made there are now more and more viable paths forward. Podcasts challenge us to take the listener on a visceral journey without visuals while still respecting structure, story, and character. 


In this series of three masterclasses, through case studies and conversation, creators of all levels will learn about development through completion - starting with an initial idea through to a finished audio piece. Use this seminar to help jumpstart your next creative endeavor!”


MORE INFO: Use code Podcast20 for 20% off when you register here.


Conversations and Connections: 

Navigating Self-Distribution

When: November 16th, noon-1:30pm Pacific

Virtual Event--FREE for WIFSFBA members, $10 non-members

Attention all Self-Distributing Filmmakers! Are you a filmmaker passionate about taking control of your work and exploring alternative methods of content creation and distribution? We have an exciting event coming up that you won't want to miss!

Introducing "Conversations and Connections: Navigating Self-Distribution," a gathering designed to bring together like-minded filmmakers who are eager to share their experiences and insights on the complexities of self-distribution. Our aim is to create an empowering space where knowledge is exchanged, connections are made, and inspiration thrives. We invite you to join us as a distinguished panel of filmmakers experienced in self-distribution share their stories, insights, and practical advice. From leveraging digital platforms to building grassroots marketing campaigns, we will explore the innovative approaches that have helped filmmakers reach wider audiences and achieve their creative goals.

Please join us in conversation with our esteemed panelists Heather Spore, Jon Reiss, and Basil Shadid!


MORE INFO: Navigating Self-distribution Registration

Interesting article on Film Distribution from Filmmaker Magazine: The Truth About Independent Film Revenue

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


San Francisco Transgender Film Festival

When: Nov 8-19, 2023

Where:  Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St, San Francisco, CA

“The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival (SFTFF) screens films that promote the visibility of transgender and gender variant people and challenge the mainstream media’s negative stereotypes of our communities. We provide opportunities for transgender and gender variant media artists, build community through film and performance events, and engage our audiences in cross-community dialogue.”

Program/Ticket Info:  SF Transgender Film Festival

Napa Valley Film Festival 2023

When:  Nov 13 - 17th, 2023                                                                                                                                                             

Where: Various locations in Napa Valley

“A prestigious film festival celebrating independent cinema accompanied by wine tasting, gourmet cuisine, and parties.  Attendance is via PASS, with a few events needing individual tickets.”

PASS info:  Napa Valley FF   

California Independent Film Festival 2023

When:  Nov 9 - 16th, 2023                                                                                                                                                               
Where:  Orinda Theatre - 4 Orinda Theatre Square #3308, Orinda, CA

“This will be the 25th California Independent Festival!!  Come See 29 films from around the world.  Choose from 3 types of FESTIVAL PASSES: All Access/Supporters, Regular, and Early Bird.”

For more PASS info:  California Independent FF

KOHO Japantown Film Festival

When: Saturday, November 4 –  12-5pm PDT                                                                                                           
Where:  Japantown Peace Plaza, 1610 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94115

“Three films, all produced by stakeholders in our community, will focus on the Japanese American experience today; the influence of historical trauma, resilience and strength of generations, and the search for cultural identity in purpose, place and community.  The festival will feature 3 film shorts with a discussion panel with the film-makers.”

FREE Admission:  Reserve a Seat

Make Me Famous - a New 80s ART Documentary

When: 10/19-11/3/2023

Where: 4-star Theater, 2200 Clement St., San Francisco, CA 94121

A madcap romp through the 1980's NYC art scene amid the colorful career of painter, Edward Brezinski, hell-bent on making it. What begins as an investigation into Brezinski’s legacy and mysterious disappearance becomes a sharp, witty portrait of NYC’s 1980s downtown art scene resulting in an irresistible snapshot of an unknown artist that captures the spirit of an iconic era.

Make Me Famous is a self distribution success story. FINALLY, in this bleak time for indie films. Producer Heather Spore will be joining WIFSFBA's Self-Distribution Panel November 16 so come see what all the buzz is about before she spills her secrets and self-distribution hacks to make it work in this crowded media landscape. Currently 100% on Rotten Tomatoes!

Ticket Links: Make Me Famous - Roxie & 4 Star Theater




Rotten Tomatoes: 100% Fresh


Aspen Shortsfest

Festival Dates: April 1-7, 2024

Submission Deadline: Nov 17th, 2023

"Recognized as one of the premier short film festivals in North America that spotlights the art and craft of short form cinema, Aspen Shortfest is also an Oscar-qualifying festival."

Submission Info: Aspen Shortsfest

San Francisco International Film Festival

Festival Dates: April 25-May 5, 2024

Regular Submission Deadline: November 3, 2023; Final Deadline: December 1, 2023

Accepting feature films, shorts, youth-produced shorts; finished film, rough cuts, or works-in-progress

“The San Francisco International Film festival, presented by SFFILM, is an essential stop on the circuit for emerging storytellers and established filmmakers alike. The SFFILM Festival is the longest running film festival in the Americas, bringing films from around the world to discerning Bay Area audiences since 1957.  SFFILM is rooted in the culture of film appreciation by exploring film as an evolutionary art form, and as a transformative force for social change.”

Submission Info:  SF International Film Festival

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

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: Pipeline Pitch Contest

WEScreenplay Competition

Final Submission Deadline for Diverse Voices Lab: November 15th, 2023

“Winners will take part in an interactive four-day virtual lab with hands-on workshops, industry

meetings, and will learn from working writers.”

Submission Info:  WEScreenplay

Coney Island Film Festival

Regular Submission Deadline: November 10th, 2023

“This festival is as diverse as the neighborhood that we represent, and  is run entirely by film, television and audio/visual professionals. Coney Island’s independent spirit and irreverent attitude have helped the fest quickly thrive as something distinct from other NYC events, screening a truly eclectic range of film categories: Shorts, Feature, Docs, Horror, Sci-Fi, Music Video, Experimental and Animation.”

Submission Info: Coney Island FF


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

WAVE Grant

Submissions Deadline:  December 1st, 2023

"Wavelength’s WAVE Grant is for a short narrative film of approximately 10 minutes. Films already in production or post-production will not be considered. Project must be applicant’s directorial debut.  Applicant must identify as a member of the BIPOC community and identify as woman or non-binary."

More Info: WAVE Grant

2024 NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship

Submission deadline: November 27, 2023

“The Black List is thrilled to announce that it has partnered with NRDC’s (Natural Resources Defense Council) Rewrite the Future program, The Redford Center, and The CAA Foundation to launch the third annual NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship. The Fellowship will grant $20,000 each to three writers to support revision of a feature screenplay or pilot that engages with climate change in a compelling way through events, actions, character, emotions, plot, and/or setting.”

More Info: 2024 NRDC Climate Storytelling Fellowship


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

Thanks to Newsletter Contributors:  Julie Rubio, Diane Walsh, Nil Unerdem, Tasha Nesbitt, Noni Virani, and Nichole Carlson

Newsletter designed by Lina Indeeva and edited by Nil Unerdem