Bay Area Documentary Fund

Documentary films are an incredibly powerful tool for storytelling as much as advocacy. Established in 2008, The San Francisco Foundation Bay Area Documentary Fund (BADF) supports films that explore timely and compelling social justice issues from communities that have been historically underexposed, misinterpreted, or ignored. In recognition of the many award-winning documentaries that have emerged from the Bay Area, the Foundation seeks applications from accomplished film, video, and digital media artists.

Every year, grants ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 are given to support the preproduction and early production phases of documentary projects by experienced filmmakers living in the Bay Area with an esteemed body of previously created work. Proposed projects should align with the Foundation’s programmatic goals, and should address topics that are relevant to one or more of the Bay Area counties we serve: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, or San Mateo.


Expanding racial and economic inclusion across the Bay Area, ensuring that all can participate, prosper and reach their full  potential, is the defining issue of our time. It is also the defining agenda for the San Francisco Foundation. This regional equity agenda is completely aligned with the history and mission of the Foundation: to build strong communities, foster civic leadership, and promote philanthropy. In order to develop our equity strategy, we have already engaged in deep conversations and consultations with over a thousand grantees, donors and civic leaders across the region. We are also doing an extensive review and analysis of relevant research and data, and mining expertise from across the region and the nation. We anticipate that we will launch our equity strategy in the Spring of 2016. Please continue to visit our website for more information.


If you have questions regarding The San Francisco Foundation Bay Area Documentary Fund, contact Tere Romo, Arts and Culture Program Officer at 415.733.8523 or

2015 Bay Area Documentary Fund Grantees

Erika CohnBelly of the Beast
A timely expose that chronicles the journey of women fighting reproductive injustice in their communities. ($20,000)

Jane Greenberg, The Surrender of Waymond Hall
A portrait of one man’s decision to surrender after years of life as a fugitive and his journey through the criminal justice system. ($20,000)

An exploration chronicling four decades of LGBTQ cartoonists and their unique contribution to queer history and literary comics. ($20,000)

John LeañosEureka! [working title]
An animated film that traces key moments of the American colonization of San Francisco, California, and the West from Native American and Latina/o perspectives. ($20,000)

Debbie LumMy Tiger Mom
The film examines the process of Asian American mothers and daughters pursuing entrance into an elite American university. ($20,000)

Click Here to find out more about our earlier BADF Grantees


Serge Bakalian, Way of the Warthogs
An exploration of the inner-city challenges confronting adolescent boys of color through the inspiring story of the unique Oakland Warthogs Youth Rugby program. ($20,000)

James Q. Chan, Frank Wong’s Chinatown [working title]
A portrait of an 80-year-old skilled artist and long-time resident of San Francisco’s Chinatown, as well as a meditation on history, memory, and preserving one’s own legacy. ($20,000)

Abby Ginzberg, Agents of Change: Then and Now, Now and Then
The film examines the impact and historical legacy of the 1968 student strike at San Francisco State that led to the first university Ethnic and African American Studies programs, raising questions about how far we have come in the intervening 40 years. ($20,000)

Gustavo Vazquez, Passing Cultura: A Metaphor in the Mission
The Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) commemoration is transformed into a magical realism metaphor for the housing crisis in San Francisco’s Mission District. ($10,000)

Annelise Wunderlich, The Corridor
An observational portrayal of an innovative experiment to fully integrate the nation’s first high school into the operations of the San Francisco Sheriff Department’s adult jail. ($20,000)


Deborah Kaufman, Do Not Track
Environmental activists, scholars, tech leaders, and hackers contemplate one of the most urgent issues of our time in this examination of free speech and privacy in the digital age. ($20,000)

Micha X. Peled, GOAL!
A group of young Bay Area shelter and transitional housing residents train to represent the U.S. in the Homeless Soccer World Cup. ($20,000)

Lourdes Portillo, Night Crossings [working title]
This poetic film essay explores the filmmaker’s life-changing events, including immigration, family traumas, and cancer diagnosis. ($20,000)

Brittney Shepherd, Eye, Camera
Tanya Vlach turns the tragedy of losing her eye in a car accident, into an artist’s quest to re-imagine the possibilities of functional prosthetics. ($20,000)

Jason Zeldes, Romeo Is Bleeding
Donte Clark and the students of RAW (Talent in Richmond) cultivate their voices through spoken word poetry and their determination to change their community with art. ($20,000)


Sophie Constantinou,Green Streets Public housing residents come together to create jobs for their community by recycling its trash. ($25,000)

Connie Field, Martin Luther King in Palestine African American gospel singers in a cultural collaboration with Palestinian actors, bring the ideas of Martin Luther King, Jr. on nonviolence to the West Bank. ($15,000)

Madeleine Lim, Bernice Bing (1936-1998) The story of a California artist and community activist whose life stood for freedom and equality. ($15,000)

Dawn Logsdon, Free For All: Inside the Public Library Documents the crucial role of the San Francisco’s Main Public Library and how libraries have transformed American civic life over the past 150 years. ($10,000)

Amir Soltaniand Chihiro Wimbush,Redemption A glimpse into the daily lives of four recyclers reveals the complex history, economy, and fraught political climate of West Oakland. ($25,000)

Dawn Valadez, TURN IT AROUND Two youth from gang impacted and economically challenged communities face seemingly insurmountable obstacles as they work to earn an education. ($10,000 from the James D. Phelan Trust)

Debra A. Wilson, Alexander and Timothy The story of a married couple diagnosed with schizophrenia reveals the state of mental health services in the Bay Area and how it impacts African American communities. ($25,000)


Gemma Cubero, Queer Tango Tango dancers find connection, acceptance, and personal transformation on the dance floor. ($20,000)

Maureen Gosling, No Mouse Music! A portrait of Arhoolie Records’ founder, Chris Strachwitz, that follows his life, vision, and adventures searching out America’s roots music. ($20,000)

Christie Herring, The Campaign This observational, character-based documentary captures the emotional rollercoasters of the people working on the campaign to defeat California’s Proposition 8 and defend same-sex marriage. ($20,000)

Dave Iverson, Moscone: A San Francisco Story A television documentary on the life and legacy of former San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. ($10,000 from the James D. Phelan Trust)

Catherin Ryan, A Love Affair with the Brain A history of neuroscientific advancement through the life and work of the legendary anatomist, Dr. Marian Diamond, Professor Emeritus at the UC Berkeley. ($20,000)

Ken Schneider, GOT BALZ? A Jewish boy in San Francisco initiates a campaign to send money and supplies to Cuba for youth to play baseball. ($10,000 from the James D. Phelan Trust)


Eugene Corr, From Ghost Town to Havana The bonds of mentorship and camaraderie transcend borders as a little league team from West Oakland travels to Cuba to play baseball. ($20,000 from the James D. Phelan Trust)

Megan Gelstein, Green Shall Overcome The controversial activist, Van Jones rises and falls at the hands of the media during his campaign to promote the green collar economy. ($20,000)

Peter Nicks, The Waiting Room Using the physical waiting room as a symbol of the plight for those most affected by the heath care crisis, this film reveals the true cost of a system in peril. ($20,000)

Tamara Perkin, The Trust Drawing the connection between poverty and recidivism, The National Trust program attempts to break the cycle by offering leadership training to incarcerated African American men. ($20,000)

Ken Paul Rosenthal, Crooked Beauty An intense personal quest to live with courage and dignity is documented through this experimental, poetic, and powerful critique of standard psychiatric treatments of mental illness. ($20,000)


Christian Bruno, Strand: A Natural History of Cinema This historical exploration of San Francisco’s movie theater culture in its heyday portrays the cinema as a site for imagination and a space for collective experience. ($22,500)

Helen De Michiel, Love Lunch Community Chronicles the Berkeley’s School Lunch Initiative and one community’s effort to change how children eat. ($22,500)

Abby Ginzberg, Cruz Reynoso: A Man for All Seasons The lifelong journey of the first Latino to be appointed to the California Supreme court, as he fights to eradicate discrimination and inequality. ($10,000)

Yoav Potash, Crime After Crime The legal struggle to free Debbie Peagler, an incarcerated domestic violence survivor, reveals a deeply fractured justice system. ($22,500)

David Weismann’s & Bill Weber, We Were Here A personal recount of the Bay Area’s AIDS epidemic as told by survivors. ($22,500)