Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum has teamed up with Mark and Jay Duplass’ Duplass Brothers Productions to launch the Of A Certain Age grant in memory of filmmaker Lynn Shelton, who died on May 16. The annual $25,000 grant will be awarded to one woman or non-binary person in the U.S., age 39 or older, who has yet to direct their first narrative feature film. In an official press release announcing the grant, Shelton’s longtime friend and collaborator Megan Griffiths said, “This grant seeks to reinforce that great filmmakers can emerge at any age, and to elevate the voices of a segment of the filmmaking community who have precious few resources dedicated to supporting them yet plenty of stories to tell.”
Shelton herself was inspired to make her first feature after attending a talk with Claire Denis at the Northwest Film Forum, where the French director discussed making her first feature at age 40. Shelton went on to write and direct her first feature, We Go Way Back, at the age of 39. “Lynn was 39 when I met her on her first feature, and I watched her grow as an artist and become more certain in her path with every passing year,” said Griffiths. “She wore her ‘late bloomer’ status as a badge of honor and we know she would be thrilled that this grant exists in her name.”
Over the course of her career, Shelton established herself as an acutely empathetic filmmaker with a keen interest in the everyday conflicts and dramas that make us human. Her credits include Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister, Sword Of Trust (which starred her partner, Marc Maron), and Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere. “There was an appreciation and an immediacy to the way Lynn approached her film and TV career, which she openly credited to her ‘late start,’” said Mel Eslyn, president of Duplass Brothers Productions. “Now finding myself approaching the same age Lynn got started, I find it comical to think we call 39 a ‘late start.’ But the reality is there is just not enough representation of women over a ‘certain age’ in media, in front of, but even more so, behind the camera. We hope that this grant can be a meaningful step towards helping to change that.”
Nominations for the Of A Certain Age grant will be submitted by an Advisory Committee that features filmmakers, programmers, and various artistic leaders from across the country, including filmmakers Kat Candler and Miranda July, and Janet Pierson of the SXSW Film Festival. Northwest Film Forum will award the first grant this year.