The Envelope, Please

Just announced are the first-ever grant recipients of the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund (TFPF). Grant money equaling a total of $30,000 has been awarded to 11 Texas film and video makers in amounts of up to $5,000. Establishing the Fund has been the dream of filmmaker Richard Linklater, who decided to take matters into his own hands in recent years as the National Endowment for the Arts' regional grant programs were abolished. Knowing firsthand how a $2,700 completion grant from the Southwest Alternate Media Project in 1989 helped him finish a little work-in-progress called Slacker, he decided to pick up the ball that our government has so unceremoniously dropped.

In the future, annual grants will be made from the TFPF endowment money raised throughout the year. The plan is to give out all the money raised each year. You may have heard a thing or two about its most recent fundraiser -- the 10-day-long Quentin Tarantino Film Festival, which certainly helped the Fund get off to an impressive start.

$5,000 grants were awarded to Let It Roll: A History of the Texas Penitentiary, a video feature documentary by Susanne Mason for production; and to Purgatory County, a Super-16mm dramatic feature by George Ratliff for post-production. A $3,500 grant went to Bob Wade: The Iguana Tour,
60-minute video documentary by Karen Dinitz for post-production.

Grants of $3,000 were given to three projects: Beyond Babylon, a 12-minute 16mm drama by Jim Shelton for post-production; Olympia, a Super-16mm comedy feature by Robert Byington for post-production; and Snake Tales, a 16mm comedy feature by Francesca Talenti for production.

Five $1,500 grants were awarded to the following: Blue Note, a 28-minute 16mm drama by Rahdi Taylor for production; Breezeway, an 8-minute 35mm comedy by George Langworthy for production; The Jumping Off Place, a 90-minute tragicomedy script by Eagle Pennell for screenplay development; Spencer Williams: Remembrances of an Early Black Film Pioneer, a 55-minute video documentary by Walid Khaldi for distribution; and Worthy Mothers, a 63-minute video documentary by Jessica Bega for distribution.

Notably, at least half these projects are the work of Austin-based filmmakers. Proposals were judged by an independent panel of film professionals which included filmmaker Craig Baldwin, (Rocket Kit Congo Kit, Sonic Outlaws);Ruby Lerner, executive director of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) and publisher of The Independent Film & Video Monthly; Marion Luntz, film and video curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and filmmaker Bruce Sinfosky (Brother's Keeper, Paradise Lost), in absentia.

1996 TFPF sponsors include Stephen J. Dell, Peggy Hubble, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Austin FilmWorks, Detour Filmproduction, Miramax Films, and Norwest Bank Texas. TFPF staff members are Jason White, program director; Uyen Tran, coordinator; and Elizabeth Peters, Austin Film Society managing director. -- Marjorie Baumgarten

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