April 5, 2023

San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM) announced today that Singaporean American filmmaker Kirsten Tan is the winner of the 2020 New American Fellowship, supporting her narrative feature “Higher” which is in development currently.

Filmmaker Kirsten Tan. Photo courtesy of SFFILM

The first of its kind in the US film industry, the New American Fellowship is made possible thanks to SFFILM’s collaboration with the Flora Family Foundation and provides a $25,000 cash grant and a FilmHouse artist residency in San Francisco to an independent director or producer who has recently moved to the United States. 

The review panel said in a statement: “This review cycle was extremely competitive and it is clear how many amazing artists who have recently arrived in the United States are in need of resources, funding, and community. Kirsten Tan’s distinct and soulful voice, rich satire, and artful vision stood out to us. Her intention to subvert familiar spaces and sights, and to give voice to outsiders, social rejects, and the marginalized excited the committee, and we were struck by the clear talent and abundant potential of this artist and project.”

Kirsten Tan is a New York-based Singaporean filmmaker whose debut feature “Pop Aye” premiered as the opening night film of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The film went on to receive a Special Jury Prize at Sundance and subsequently garnered other international accolades. It was Singapore’s official entry to the 90th Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category in 2018.

“My next feature project, “Higher”, is in its early stages of development and receiving SFFILM’s New American Fellowship at this juncture is a huge confidence booster,” said Tan. “Reading Jack Kerouac’s novels growing up, San Francisco has always carried an attractive air of progressive freedom to me so I thoroughly look forward to exploring and learning more about the city.”

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