Roy W. Dean Grant Spring 2022 Finalists

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

Grant Application Button Transparent

2022 Spring Grant Finalists

Search Listings

A Different, Deadly Beast: The 1918 Influenza in Montana

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Fifty million died of the 1918 influenza but six stories will tell how Montanans met this crisis. Their voices explore themes of risk and responsibility, trauma and resilience, tradition and innovation.

First, a tickle in the throat. Then crushing fatigue, coughing fits, and gasping for air. At first, Montanans were not alarmed; viruses were as seasonal as blizzards and chinooks. But this flu was a different, deadly beast. The nation lost nearly six times more people to the 1918 flu than to WWI. This film brings to life how Montanans struggled, innovated, and worked together to survive the virus. Their stories reveal courage and community in unexpected places.

Regina Doyle Silent Film Starlet: The Untold, Tragic But True Story

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

A joyride through silent-film era Hollywood, whose center of gravity is a rising, 24 year-old starlet whose violent death clips the rose of her silver-screen dream. One hundred years later her three grandsons embark on a 20-year journey of discovery and recovery, after finding a studio photo in their mother’schildhood scrapbook--hidden away in a closet for half a century. A Tragic ending to Regina's blossoming Silent Film career, lead by"Premonition of Evil" that her mother had on her departure.

My Letter to Bergman


Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

What would you do if you saw yourself in a Bergman film? The extraordinary journey of a Brazilian cinephile who used an artist’s body of work as a blueprint for her own life. "My Letter to Bergman" is a reflexive documentary that proposes a journey from topical Brazil to polar Sweden guided by cinema, involving topics such as the conflict between reality and fiction/fantasy, the transformative power of time and the the search for one's identity.

CHIRAGU (wing)

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

21-year-old Muslim transman Adam Harry seeks to fulfil his dream to become a Commercial Pilot with a scholarship from the progressive Kerala government, having already overcome pernicious family persecution. As his fanbase and media presence grows, he develops into a high profile activist. On the frontlines of Indian Aviation Authority’s bureaucratic discrimination imposing him to detransition, how will Adam defy all odds and continue his training to become the first transgender Commercial Pilot of Indian origin?

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

LUNCHBOX is a dramatic, three-part, coming-of-age short about regret, healing, and honoring the people we love.  Using her deceased immigrant mother’s recipe book, Taiwanese American Shirley makes zongzi, turnip cake, and hand-cut noodles.  As she cooks, each dish evokes a childhood memory in which she grows progressively older and more distant from her Taiwanese culture and mother.  When Shirley’s assimilation efforts culminate in her election to the Homecoming Court, a mistake by Shirley’s mother humiliates her, eliciting cruel words Shirley can never take back.  Based on a true story, this retelling examines the personal cost of fitting in and the recovery from cultural and familial loss.



Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Cellist Tobias van der Pals stumbles into an archive filled with hundreds of music works composed by his great-grandfather, Leopold van der Pals. Newspaper clips show that he was played all over the world 100 years ago. And yet, today, his name has been lost to history and there are no recordings of the music. A diary left behind tells the grandiose story of a man who was born to aristocracy in Russia, rich and connected, and died poor and alone. Tobias embarks on a project to bring the music back to life, recording CDs, pitching operas, and playing concerts. But as the years go by, what began as a project becomes life-consuming.

Untitled Viatical Documentary


Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

A searching contemplation of gay ingenuity, political agency, and the moral debts that families accumulate under American capitalism, the Untitled Viatical Documentary features the voices of AIDS survivors who--in the early days of the epidemic--sold their life insurance policies to investors in exchange for quick cash. Charting the rise and fall of what critics called a gay-death-profiteering industry, this short spotlights one of its early investors: the filmmaker’s father.

Untitled Nomads Documentary

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Three Americans join a growing nomadic movement living out of vehicles—seeking meaning outside a society that failed them. When the cost of radical freedom takes its toll, their individual journeys build to a collective discovery: love is the most meaningful thing of all.

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

There are some things in life that you can’t unsee:
Labor trafficking in the US - one of the most unknown unjust and inhumane practices in a globalized world.
We see them every day, in restaurants, beauty salons, and inside our homes. They work among us, in plain sight, but go unseen. America is the ‘land of the free,’ a beacon of hope for countless immigrants and citizens looking to build a better life. But for the tens of thousands of people enslaved through labor trafficking each year in the United States, these streets are not paved with gold. In the most developed nation in the world, how do we close the legal loopholes that enable the continued exploitation of our fellow people?

Open Air


Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

The investigative and follow-up documentary focuses on the plight of the journalists of Hungarian news Web site, which, up until mid-2020, was considered to be one of the country’s last, most read and most popular, independent media outlets. Threatened by a government takeover, the journalists quit en masse and launch their own alternative news platform, had been a stunning success story. Launched in 1999, it was the most-widely read news site in Hungary, providing news every day to about 1.5 million readers– a remarkable feat in a country of only 10 million. But political independence was hard to achieve, and even harder to maintain.

Egypt, a Love Song

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Souad Zaki was a popular Jewish singer in 1940's Egypt, married to a Muslim musician, and after he abandoned her with their child, she fled to Israel where she lived a double life: in the mornings she was a cleaning lady and in the evenings a singer. Souad’s granddaughter Iris brings her tempestuous story to life in a hybrid cinematic project that crosses nations, cultures, and religions, bringing together sweeping periodical scripted scenes, archival materials and an intimate documentary journey of the director and her father, into their complex identity.

Acting Like Women

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

In 1973, women artists from around the country flocked to Los Angeles to be part of the Woman’s Building – an incubator for innovative, fearless, and still-relevant work in the history of feminist performance art. It was a birthplace for radical new ideas that made the art world take notice and laid a foundation for art and social justice movements of today. ACTING LIKE WOMEN is a personal and collective journey into art, activism, and gender – intimately told by those who lived it.

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Blight is an ambitious short film about two brothers on a quest to save their mother who has fallen critically ill. Their only hope is crossing through dangerous, conflict-ridden territory to reach a nearby refugee camp with medical supplies. With a focus on changing representations of Somali actors in film, BLIGHT will be one of the first science fiction dramas to feature a Somali lead cast.

Going Fine Since 1889: The Magical Armstrongs

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Going Fine Since 1889: The Magical Armstrongs delves into the true life account of an African American family of magicians traveling throughout the South in the early 1900’s within the confines of the Jim Crow era.

The film explores the life and times of illusionist John Hartford Armstrong, his wife Lillie Belle and daughter Ellen E. Armstrong, who continued the family legacy with a solo magic act. As America came into a modern century, where society and entertainment were changing rapidly, the Armstrong’s brought a sophisticated grandeur to the world of magic but are virtually forgotten today.

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

An assertive woman explores an eerie antiques barn and follows the rules set by the chatty owner, but when she rejects his unwanted proposition, he lets a sinister presence punish her.

Under the surface, ASK FOR HELP shows how women specifically are subject to conflicting rules for behavior. When feedback on the script divided sharply along gender lines (half thought it wasn't really scary, the other half thought it was terrifying), I knew this film had to be made. ASK FOR HELP is my first film with a professional production and post-production team, so it's an especially great honor to be a Roy W. Dean Grant finalist in 2022!

Irish Cops Under Siege

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Irish Cops Under Siege Trailer
The film will include interviews with local first responders, as we examine the history and explore the future of the iconic “Irish cop”, including footage throughout the city of Chicago, across the nation, and numerous regions in Ireland.

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

When a Korean family unexpectedly immigrates next door, Taylor, a 14-year-old Korean-American adoptee discovers her roots and the whereabouts of her birth family.

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

The sole survivor of a tragic DUI crash which killed her mother and younger sister, Leila spent the last year in darkness. Her older sister, Faith, moved back in to take care of her, and held them both together trying to help Leila return to life.
Leila barely makes it through each day as the ghost of her younger sister keeps memories alive, and nightmares from the crash keep Leila tied to darkness.
Faith convinces Jeb, a young watercolor painter, to give Leila painting lessons. Still fighting with failure to save his own sister from suicide, he tries to right his own wrongs.
A story of light and dark, of life and family, and how sometimes the first person we need to forgive is ourselves.

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

An on-going, filmed comedy sketch show, filmed in Minneapolis, MN; featuring a diverse, rotating cast and crew and a special musical guest each episode! All content/sketches/music videos released on Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook and YouTube.

We’re just doing our best, in the Midwest.



Roy W. Dean Spring Previous Grant Winners

2021 – Michael Camoin for Scared to Debt (Documentary)

2020 – Michael Culyba for Keeper of Time (Documentary)

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!