Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema presents free screenings of diverse, local filmmakers' works in neighborhood parks, playgrounds, and other community-friendly spaces to increase the exposure and recognition of local artists and to heighten appreciation by neighborhood and citywide residents while bringing community together.

The Submissions & Selection Committee seeks short films or videos in which local residents have participated in any aspect of production, promotion or distribution. The Committee strongly encourages San Francisco filmmakers of all backgrounds and lived experiences to submit their work representing the breadth and diversity of San Francisco and Bernal Heights, specifically. Submissions of all genres including narrative, documentary, comedy, art, experimental, animation and music videos will be considered.

In its 20th season, BHOC features an end-of-summer 3-day festival of free screenings. With all consideration given to the Health Department's guidance on health and safety in this time of COVID-19, our hope is to stage three evenings of screenings — in-person — both outdoors and indoors. For indoor events, the wearing of masks is not required, but encouraged.

The Outdoor Season is followed in the Winter with the quarterly "Face-to-Face with the Filmmaker" screenings — dates TBA

NOTE: Should any of these events be cancelled due to weather or other impediments, we will schedule virtual presentations at a later date. Your submission gives Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema permission to make your film accessible on Vimeo for a limited time to be determined.

The BHOC line-up features short films or videos — up to 20 minutes in length— in all genres, in which: 1) local Bay Area residents have participated in any aspect of production or distribution; and 2) the subject matter or theme resonates with current sentiments, issues and challenges facing the neighborhood and residents of Bernal Heights. Special consideration is given to films or videos on which a resident of Bernal Heights participated in any aspect of promotion, production or distribution.

Four non-monetary awards are presented to featured filmmakers:

Bernal-based filmmakers are eligible for the "Best of Bernal" award. All filmmakers are considered for the "Spirit of Bernal" award based on the film’s subject matter /theme and its resonance with sentiments, issues and challenges facing the neighborhood. Young and emerging filmmakers are eligible for the "Bernal Bright Star" award. These three awards are determined by a vote of the Submissions & Selection Committee. The fourth award, the "Good Life Audience Award," is determined by the at-large audience.

The Awards presentation and award-winning films will be presented at the final event of the season, "Best of Bernal" screening, awards presentation and reception.

-- Application considered "complete" when PROJECT PROFILE is finished.

BHOC showcases the work of LOCAL FILMMAKERS, those living and/or working in the San Francisco Bay Area, with special consideration given to those who live in and around the Bernal Heights area. Please, DO NOT submit your work if you do not live, work or have a cast or crew member who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are committed to showcasing and promoting local talent and stories. Before submitting your work, please review and agree to the following:

-- We seek short films — up to 20 minutes length — in all genres including narrative, animation, documentary, drama, experimental, children’s, music videos, and works in progress.

-- There are no restrictions regarding year of completion, submission to other festivals or previous presentations of the submitted films

-- Special interest and consideration is given to films that share and align with the diverse sentiments of the Bernal community

-- By submitting their film, submitter agrees that they own or control the copyright in and to, and are duly authorized to submit this film to Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema

-- Filmmakers give permission to BHOC to use press kits for marketing purposes, and a clip from film in highlight reel for box office and online trailer.

-- If your work is selected for screening, you must supply a high-resolution digital link, 1920 x 1080 pixels, .mov

-- If selected, filmmakers are invited to attend their screenings but are not required to be present

Overall Rating
  • Peter Menchini

    We had the best time at the Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema. Everyone was super helpful and friendly, and so many of the films were great that we were doubly honored to have a film on opening night, and one in Best of Bernal. And since the showings are free, everyone can afford to go!

    September 2022
    Response from festival:

    It's always good to see you, Peter. Keep up the good work.

  • Betsy Stern

    This is an amazing, warm, kind, and community-based festival, with a really hardworking crew of volunteers and sponsors. The welcome given to the filmmakers at both the screening I attended and the wrap party was absolutely incredible. A million thanks to all of you for everything you do and keeping the beautiful community so alive and lively!

    September 2022
    Response from festival:

    All the best in 2023, Betsy. Thanks for being a part of our 19th season. On to #20!

  • Great community festival experience! It was great to see what people in my area are creating and get to know like minded filmmakers.

    September 2022
  • Ramiro Cairo

    Thank you so much to BHOC for selecting our short film Distant Observer! It's been a real pleasure to be part of it. Our neighbors will be always grateful for bringing us together and add value to our community. When something is made with passion, love and respect, nothing can beat that! Thank you.

    September 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you, Ramiro, for sharing your film with us. We look forward to seeing more of your creative spirit in action.

  • Had a great time at the 2020 BHOC. This time around we had drive thoughts, this was fantastic. Followed by a virtual celebration. Had a wonderful time.

    November 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thanks, Neil. It was a season of new experiences, that's for sure. Thanks for sharing GHOST SEARCHERS with us. Continued success with your future projects.