Writer/Director, Jane Cusumano passed away on June 1, 2001, just four weeks after achieving her lifelong goal of directing her first feature film (WHAT MATTERS MOST). The day before she died, as she lay in her hospital bed, she expressed regret to her husband, Jim that although her passion for film was as intense as ever, she would not be around to direct more films. In view of this imminent reality, Jim asked Jane about her final wish for WHAT MATTERS MOST. "Of course, I want it to have a broad theatrical release," she responded. "And I hope that many people have an opportunity to see it and enjoy it. But more than that, I hope that my film and my journey over the last year will INSPIRE just one filmmaker to be true to his/her passion. Be tenacious, have faith and make the movie you want---no matter what," she implored.

Inspired by Jane's last wish, and drawing on guidance from friends in the film industry, Jim created Jane's Finish-Your-Film Fund, an annual scholarship, that awards $5,000 to a promising filmmaker with outstanding creative capacities and a demonstrated passion and commitment to making "their" film.

Jane's Finish-Your-Film Fund Award Recipients for 2001

During the last years of her life, Jane was a resident of Ojai, California, a community she found compassionate to the spiritual quiet and providing the inspirational setting she needed to write and direct the kind of films she sought to make. Therefore, it was natural for Jim to seek the advice of their friends from the Ojai Film Society. The result is a scholarship committee managed jointly with the Ojai Film Society. An overview of the award process is as follows:

  • To be eligible a prospective candidate must have demonstrated commitment by initiating a film project and be in post-production when applying for this scholarship.

  • To make the administrative process fair and manageable, the scholarship committee accepts one candidate from each of the 15 film schools listed below.

  • Candidates are chosen by the faculty of the respective film schools and recommended to the scholarship committee.

  • Each candidate must complete a brief application and submit a VHS copy of his or her film.

  • All applications must be received by October 1.

The scholarship committee will announce the winner in November during the Ojai Film Festival.

For more information or to request an application please contact :

Deborah Benjamin,
Ojai Film Festival

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