Jerome Foundation Announces 2019 Minnesota Film, Video and Digital Production Grants

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Jerome Foundation Board of Directors authorized five grants based on the recommendations of the Minnesota Film, Video and Digital Production Grant Program Review Panel. This program supports production and post-production costs connected to the creation of new narrative, documentary, experimental or animated works in film, video or digital formats by early career filmmakers in Minnesota.

Of the 31 applications submitted, five grants totaling $134,900 were authorized for the productions described below.

Kiera Faber

Kiera Faber received $21,540 for The Garden Sees Fire, an enigmatic animated narrative exploring the untamed wildness of the mind, the land, and the burning desire to besiege and control both. Inspired by the frontier writings of Conrad Richter and her family's hereditary struggle with bipolar disorder, the imagery interweaves three distinct visual strands: puppet stop motion and drawing animation, hand-manipulated 16mm film, and an intermediary space that conjoins the external real-world imagery with the internal constructed world of the animations. This film is Faber’s second installment in a trilogy exploring mental pathologies and loosely inspired by specific literary works.

Alison Guessou

Alison Guessou received $30,000 for Happily Married After, a short satirical film that takes on the perfections and imperfections of marriage and individual versus societal expectations. A young couple has been selected by a documentary crew to be followed for a few weeks and interviewed as part of a series for what makes a marriage successful. Both partners (unbeknown to the other) overcompensate for the perceived shortcomings of the other until the hidden flaws are exposed. The couple finds themselves in a situation that can either make their marriage stronger or pull it apart. Through a series of flashbacks, character dialogue, and talking-head interviews, we see how they navigate for the sake of their relationship.

Catherine Licata

Catherine Licata received $23,360 for The Lobby (working title), a narrative short film about Josefina, a hotel housekeeper determined to improve her life with the aid of her favorite self-help audiobook. A cinematic response to the performative “hustle” of late capitalist America, Licata entwines the issues of economic and class mobility with the contemporary immigrant experience.  This short character-driven drama deals with structural inequalities beyond any one person’s control, playing with audience expectations on class and societal roles.  

Peter Nelson

Peter Nelson received $30,000 for White (working title), which weaves together five narratives of individuals reflecting on their whiteness. Historically, race has been viewed as a non-white issue, and the burden to understand race and racism in recent years has been overwhelmingly put on people of color. This project seeks to engage white people in a self-examination of their whiteness. Nelson will use stop motion animation and recorded interviews to reveal white perspectives, biases, and blind spots as individuals consider their roles in white privilege, white solidarity, and white fragility.

Xiaolu Wang

Xiaolu Wang received $30,000 for The Subversive Sirens, a documentary following the inner lives of seven community leaders who venture into the world of synchronized swimming as an act of political warfare. The Sirens represent an intersection of multiple identities and desires in their collective fight for Black liberation, equity in the aquatic arts, body positivity, and queer visibility. Documenting this journey of empowerment and celebrity through three major milestones, the 2018 Paris Gay Games, the 2019 International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Championships and the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, Wang seeks to amplify the Subversive Sirens’ mission and move them closer to a just future.