Roy W. Dean Grant Spring 2020 Finalists

Congratulations to the films selected to be Roy W. Dean Grant Spring 2020 Finalists.

25 films were chosen as finalists.  On this page, we give each filmmaker the opportunity to tell the world about their film.  They choose the pictures and loglines.  Some may choose not to reveal their projects on this page and we respect their wishes.   

Since 1992, From the Heart Productions has supported filmmakers with cash and substantial professional discounts from our film industry partners, averaging an estimated $30,000 per filmmaker.  The Roy W. Dean grants program, with several annual deadlines, has grown into one of the most sought after competitions in the world.

The Roy W. Dean Grant funds unique films that make a contribution to society.  It gives filmmakers with great stories told with passion the funding to get their projects started or completed.

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2020 Spring Grant Finalists

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26 Seconds

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One child every “26 Seconds” is trafficked globally, the majority ending up in the sex trade. “26 Seconds” features the heartbreaking stories of children and women from vastly different cultures experiencing horrifically similar traumas. The documentary highlights the active efforts of survivors, other individuals and NGO’s to rescue victims, and raise awareness to those in power to affect change, and ultimately put a stop to this horrific, worldwide industry. “26 Seconds” follows children and women from each of the target countries:Thailand, Cambodia, India, Iraq, Mexico, East Africa and in our own backyards in the USA.



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Disconnected from her career-focused and family-driven peers, an emotionally isolated 29-year-old woman pursues a relationship with a 17-year-old boy after he mistakes her for a fellow high school student.

Fandango at the Wall

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Fandango at the Wall delves into the lives and music of the masters of a three-hundred-year-old Mexican folk music called son jarocho who join New York City maestro Arturo O’Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for the historical music festival “Fandango Fronterizo.” This festival takes place simultaneously on both sides of the United States-Mexico border transforming the wall from an object that divides to one that unites.

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Fatima has become an activist to challenge the sex trade in her community. Married off to a pimp as a child bride herself, and expected to become a prostitute by her in-laws, she has a genuine knowledge of and access to women in her community.
She tries desperately hard to prevent her own six children going into the sex trade. She divorces her husband, and as we follow her personal ups and downs; falling in love again, trying to start a new family, we find out more about why she chose to fight against the abuse and exploitation that has become systemic in her community.
With our unique access to Fatima, we highlight and expose in a vernacular way, the realities of sex-trade in India.



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Last seconds of a pick-up soccer game; Corner kick. The crowded players are grappling inside the 18-yard box. The sweaty kicker sends the ball to his teammate's head, leaving no chance for the pouncing goalie's blocking attempt. GOAL! A live band plays wild, celebratory music! The goal celebration develops into a long, joyous, hallucinogenic, and virtuosic dance piece. Blinded by happiness, the players lift the referee onto their shoulders and carry him off into the horizon as he continues to throw penalty cards in vain. As the scoring team recedes into the distance, it dawns on the opposing team that they have won the game by default, due to forfeiture.

Good Time Fela

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Good Time Fela is a much ado about nothing short film of two queer brown men who celebrate the inheritance of a new club. In the middle of the celebration, the main characters Tony & Seun face loss, love, and exploration during a new era of self-growth. Good Time Fela encourages young queer brown men to always live in the mental capacity of optimism.


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HAMLET/HORATIO celebrates the power of love to transcend corruption and evil driven by Horatio's mission to keep Hamlet's spirit alive, even after death.
Told from theperspective of Hamlet’s closest friend and confidante, Horatio, who takes on the role of film director in order to fulfill his promise to dying Hamlet to tell the story of Hamlet’s life so the world will understand what has transpired in the court of Denmark!

Journey of a Thousand Miles

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When Zhu Shen’s husband dies of cancer, she throws herself into a five-year odyssey to help their young son Perry produce a film memorializing his dad. This personal documentary is both a media-strewn and behind-the-scenes meditation on the making of Changyou’s Journey, a 2019 Oscar-qualifying animated short. In order to help her prodigy son fully grieve and grow, Zhu must reclaim her own artistic prowess and transform from a “Tiger Mom” to a “Zen Mom”.

Keeper of Time

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With over twenty characters and nineteen locations spanning the globe now filmed, Keeper of
Time delves into the world of timekeeping by examining the planets and stars above, the
time-honored craft of mechanical watchmaking, and the science behind the atomic clocks that
keep our modern world running. All the while, Keeper of Time contemplates the theoretical and
physiological notions of time, aging, and human mortality with interviews from cutting-edge
scholars in the fields of theoretical physics, human physiology and philosophy.

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A new firefighter faced with the realization of being unprepared for the job explores a serious issue plaguing the fire service; a lack of realistic heat and smoke during academy training that the public doesn’t know about.

Love Me Bait Me

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Feature length documentary "Love Me Bait Me" is an intersectional retelling of the LGBTQ+ community’s fight for positive representation in film and television. It brings to life the story of a community deprived of representative storytelling—and the grassroots movement they incited after a record-breaking number of queer women deaths on broadcast television in 2016. This disturbing trend, known as the "Bury Your Gays" Trope, has devastating effects for a community that is already severely underrepresented. "Love Me Bait Me" explores this phenomenon and offers a call to action that inspires transformation and healing.



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She was once as famous as Jackie O. And then she tried to take down a President. “Martha” is an archival documentary portrait of the unlikeliest of whistleblowers: Martha Mitchell, a Republican cabinet wife who was gaslighted by the Nixon Administration to keep her quiet.

Martha Mitchell was the wife to Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell, who many believed to be the second most powerful man of the time. In “Martha,” Martha Mitchell herself, through archival TV and radio interviews, will recount how when she dared speak out, she was victimized by the Nixon administration. The film will show a consequential “slice of life” and expose gaslighting at the highest levels of power.

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Abuse against the elderly and disabled is extremely common and many times there's no recourse in the courts. Our film hopes to sound the alarm on these disgraceful acts that have been covered up and denied for so long.
These stories desperately need to be told. No film like this has been made to warn the public about what happens to their loved ones when they trust these crooked facilities and organizations. There is no reliable accountability system set up to monitor these places and caregivers. We will feature interviews and stories from victims and their families, facility employees, and activists that are fighting to change the laws and systems that have failed us around the world.

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NICO, a young boy living in present day New York City, struggles to finish knitting a scarf for his friend's birthday while facing his father's inability to deal with his emotions after the absence of his mother.

Scared To Debt: America's Student Loan Scam

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SCARED TO DEBT is the documentary about the untold story of how the US Government set up a system of greed that gutted consumer protections from student loans sending students, parents and colleges over the cliff. Despite today’s headlines of privilege, scandal, greed and blame, the predatory lending system designed to indenture millions of Americans remains hiding in plain sight.  

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After getting laid off, young single-mom Beth (Vivian Kerr) finds herself living in her car and struggles to hide her homelessness from her estranged brother Ben (Anthony Rapp).

Seaper Powers The Movie: In Search of Bleu Jays Treasure

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Meet Emma, a little girl on vacation off the island of St. Thomas, who discovers magical sea-grass that gives her the power to talk to sea life. Soon enough, Emma has a new group of sea-critter friends; Oliver, a shy young octopus who's full of adventure but too timid to explore with friends, and Steve, an out-of-place starfish who discovers he has powers of his own. Together, the quirky trio set off on a grand adventure to find buried treasure, along the way learning important lessons about friendship, self-confidence, protecting the environment.

The Chemical Factory

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“The Chemical Factory” is a short prestige animated documentary film that is a vignette featuring a Chinese
immigrant mother and political refugee (Cheuk Yee Chan) recounting her life growing up during the tumultuous
1960’s Cultural Revolution in China to her American son (filmmaker and animator Andrew Leung). A faded memory and a world in upheaval is brilliantly rendered using real-time graphics hardware and software for the first time ever.

The Golden Rule

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The Golden Rule probes the devastating impact of corporate profit over the safety of citizens. As a result of regulatory capture, innocent people and children are facing deadly health issues. A professor, a mom and local citizens-turned-advocates fight for answers.



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In 1814 Regency London, a woman faces social destruction when rumours emerge of her husband’s involvement in a notorious gay scandal.

Voice of Vanilla

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Although many take vanilla for granted, this difficult and dangerous crop is a lifeline out of poverty for farmers in Madagascar. Will the women responsible for vanilla cultivation be able to weather the storms that threaten its very existence, and their own?

Voice of Vanilla is an observational documentary that follows the process of vanilla production in Madagascar through the eyes of the women involved. This is a film that connects people across great distances through the shared experiences of humanity, and builds empathy for the many challenges women farmers are facing.



Roy W. Dean Spring Previous Grant Winners

2019 – Justin Lerner, Mauricio Escobar for El Cadejo Blanco (Narrative Feature)

2018Rémi Kessler, Robert Mc Falls, and Linda Othenin-Girard for The Advocate

2017 – Erika Cohn for Belly of the Beast

2016 – Malina Fagan and Lynn Pelletier for The Coverup

2015 – Karen Day for Girl From God’s Country

2014 – Jen Senko for The Brainwashing of My Dad

2013 – Helen Hall for Pictures of Infinity

2012 – Suzanne Mitchell for Running Wild

2011 – Beth Harrington for The Winding Stream

2010 – Cathryne Czubek for A Girl & A Gun

2009 – Chad A. Stevens for Coal War

2008 – Melissa Montero for Our Women Our Struggle

2007 – Shawn Batey for The Changing Face of Harlem

2006 – Alice Hurwitz & Jeff Morgan for Lilly & Leander, A Legacy of Violence

2005 – Eric Gottlieb for Wakefield Convicted, Sentenced to Die

2004 – Muriel Stockdale for NYC Spirit

2003 – Rebecca Dreyfus for Stolen



We thank our Community Partners for their continued support!