Who doesn’t love a great movie? Lucky for locals, the San Francisco Bay Area is home to some of the world’s most renowned film festivals. From intimate, small-town festivals to grand scale events featuring hundreds of movies and the biggest names in Hollywood, we’ve put together a film festival guide to the best of the Bay.
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
San Francisco, CA
Date: July 21 – August 7, 2016
The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival produces the first and largest Jewish Film Festival in the world, year-round screenings and events, an online shorts program, a New Jewish Filmmaking Project, and a Mitzvah Series that provides free screening of Jewish films for seniors in nursing homes and at their summer festival. While the main event takes place during the summer, the SFJFF is active all year round, with screenings, events, and shorts available to view online.
Mill Valley Film Festival
Mill Valley, CA
Dates: October 3 – 13, 2016
While the town might be small, this festival is anything but. Known as a filmmakers’ festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival offers a high profile, prestigious and star-studded environment perfect for celebrating the best in independent and world cinema. Gala celebrations, tributes to actors and filmmakers, workshops, panels and seminars, as well as opportunities to mingle with filmmakers in the spectacular setting just north of the Golden Gate are just a few of the reasons Screen International named Mill Valley one of its top 10 US film festivals.
San Jose, CA
Dates: February 28 – March 12, 2017
Named a Top 10 Film Festival and Best Digital Film Festival by the Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide, Cinequest provides the finest discovery bastion of international film premieres, breakthrough technology, artists and innovators. As the premiere film festival in the Silicon Valley, Cinequest features unique social and artistic visions from around the globe. This dynamic festival engages audiences in thought-provoking dialogue, giving film artists and film lovers alike an opportunity to connect.
USF Human Rights Film Festival
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Date: March 31 – April 2, 2016
Free to the public, the Human Rights Film Festival at USF is now in its 14th year. The festival will open with a selection of shorts produced by USF students. Films selected address human rights abuses in locations as varied as the U.S., Indonesia, Bolivia, Sinai, Eritrea, Syria, Hawaii and Mexico. The issues highlighted in the films include political repression, torture, genocide, killings and disappearances, refugees, migrations, environmental destruction, mining and indigenous women, LGBT rights and gun violence. This fascinating festival is a can’t miss.
Tiburon International Film Festival
Date: April 8 – 15, 2016
With 30 countries participating showing this year, the Tiburon International Film Festival isn’t the biggest of the local festivals, but it’s certainly worth a visit. Held in charming downtown Tiburon, located right on the Bay in Southern Marin, the festival is a 7-day annual event, showcasing the best in global cinema. This year the festival will focus on Cuba. With films like 13 Million Voices, which tells the story of the historic Peace Without Borders concert in Havana; Craving Cuba, about the Cuban-American experience and Humberto, a film, which explores the life and work of filmmaker Humberto Solas, director of “Lucia.”
San Francisco International Film Festival
San Francisco, CA
Date: April 21 – May 5, 2016
The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival runs April 25–May 9 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, the Castro Theatre and New People Cinema in San Francisco and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. Held each spring for 15 days, the International is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country’s most beautiful cities, featuring 200 films and live events, 14 juried awards and $70,000 in cash prizes, upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests and diverse and engaged audiences with more than 70,000 in attendance. Bonus: the SFIFF is probably your best bet for some serious celeb-sighting.