Finalists Announced for Inaugural True Productions / SIFF Documentary Filmmaking Grant


$50,000 Grant Will Fund Feature Length Documentary on Aging


Seattle, WA -- November 3, 2015 -- True Productions and the Seattle International Film Festival have selected four finalists contending for the 2015 True Productions / SIFF $50,000 Documentary Filmmakers Grant. In the first year, a specific theme was chosen to support a documentary 

feature that reflects on the very real and increasingly relevant subject of aging and the elderly. 

The winner will be announced in December and subsequent granting cycles will have a 

different focus and theme. 


This inaugural grant, generously supported by True Productions and its principals Dwayne and Terese Clark, marks the beginning of a three-year commitment to investment in the local filmmaking community, the filmmaking process, and the art of true storytelling through the lens. In addition to his work with True Productions, Dwayne Clark is the founder and CEO of Áegis Living, 

a network of 30 assisted living communities throughout Washington, Arizona, and Nevada. 


Notes Dwayne Clark, "Part of our mission with True Productions is to empower talented local filmmakers to bring their true stories to play out on the big screen. We're excited about launching this grant with an important theme this year near and dear to anyone who has a loved one affected by dementia or aging issues. Great things will come of this opportunity, given Seattle's talented pool of filmmakers."


"We are delighted that 28 compelling projects submitted proposals for funding," said Carl Spence, Artistic and Co-Director of SIFF. "Dwayne's visionary idea of creating a specific theme and narrow focus provided a conduit for us to discover these four extraordinary filmmaking projects. We staunchly endorse all of the finalists and look forward to following their journeys to completion."


The list of finalists and their documentaries are:


BIG SONIA - Directors Leah Warshawski, Todd Soliday

Standing tall at 4'8", Sonia Warshawski (90) is a tiny woman with a huge personality and big impact in the world. Diva, business owner, "national treasure," and Holocaust survivor - she's just been served an eviction notice for John's Tailoring, the last (and most popular) shop left standing in a dying suburban mall. Sonia struggles with retirement, while her life lessons span generations. 


DYING IN AMERICA - Director/Executive Producer Carolyn Jones, Producer Lisa Frank

DYING IN AMERICA is the story of three dying patients and the health care professionals that help them navigate all of the decisions and hurdles they inevitably face, battling personal and emotional crises, conflicted family members and the fear of technology's overuse along the way.  


GOLD BALLS - Director Kate Dandel

A diverse group of athletes over age 80 barnstorm the country in pursuit of a National Championship title in tennis. Shot at 4 National Championship locations around the country GOLD BALLS explores universal questions about aging, mindset, and the unexpected power of a goal through the lens of a unique subculture - the "ultra" senior tennis world.


HEAVEN THROUGH THE BACK DOOR - Director Anna Fitch, Producer Banker White

This film explores end of life through the lens of a unique Californian, Swiss emigré Yolanda Shae. "Yo," as she is universally known, has always lived by her own rules. She is a grandmother and a marijuana dealer, an intellectual and a psychic, a hostess and a tyrant, and above all an amazing storyteller. A portrait of a spirited matriarch that reveals the beauty that the passage from life can hold when people are allowed to die as they wish. 


The winning grant recipient will be announced before the end of the year.