SFFILM champions the world's finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Building on a legacy of more than 60 years of bringing the best in world cinema to the Bay Area, SFFILM is a national leader in exhibition, education, and filmmaker services.
The crown jewel of SFFILM's exhibition program is the San Francisco International Film Festival. Through intelligent and innovative programming, SFFILM Festival creates singularly vital experiences for audiences of all kinds. An essential stop on the international film festival circuit, SFFILM Festival is well regarded as a significant celebration of world cinema in one of the country's most beautiful cities.
SFFILM's Artist Development programs provide significant financial and creative resources to independent narrative and documentary filmmakers from around the world through grants, fellowships, residencies and more. Since 2009, over $7 million has been awarded to more than 150 film projects in various stages of production including Sorry to Bother You, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Short Term 12, Patti Cake$, Cutie and the Boxer, The Force, The Feeling of Being Watched, Honeyland, and Hale County This Morning, This Evening.
Founded in 1957, the San Francisco International Film Festival is the longest-running film festival in the Americas. Held each spring and highly anticipated by its loyal and passionate audiences, SFFILM Festival is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation featuring some 180 films and live events with more than 300 filmmakers and industry guests in attendance and nearly two dozen awards presented for excellence in film craft.
SFFILM Festival features a bonanza of narrative feature films, live action and animated shorts, television and theatrical documentaries, experimental work and a variety of new digital media, as well as a smart lineup of industry panels and seminars, awards events, onstage tributes, retrospectives, and the highly acclaimed Schools at the Festival program, which brings more than 5,000 students in grades 3–12 into the festivities. Remarkably intimate for an event of its size and scope, SFFILM Festival combines a range of marquee premieres, international competitions, hard-hitting documentaries, new media work, and star-studded gala events.
"Few festivals are more suited to their city than the International. It’s clearly a festival programmed by those who love film for people who love film.” — Alex Romanelli, editor, Variety
Golden Gate Awards Competition
The Golden Gate Awards recognize the best of international and independent cinema by honoring excellence and superior innovation in narrative, documentary, shorts, experimental, animated, and youth produced work.
Golden Gate Awards include juried awards for a New Director of a narrative feature with a $10,000 cash prize; Best Documentary Feature with a $10,000 cash prize; Best Bay Area Documentary Feature with a $5,000 cash prize.
SFFILM Festival is also a qualifying festival for the 12th annual Cinema Eye Honors for non-fiction filmmaking.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes SFFILM Festival as a qualifying festival for their short film (live action, documentary and animated) competitions.
Audience Awards for Best Narrative and Documentary Features
• All entries must have been completed on or after January 1, 2019.
• Features previously exhibited in the Bay Area, either theatrically, at another local festival or via television or Internet broadcast are not eligible to apply.
• Bay Area filmmakers (directors only, not production crew or cast) are eligible for entry fee discounts and additional Bay Area awards given in recognition of the rich variety of work that has established Northern California as a center of independent production. Bay Area awards are presented to a documentary feature film and two short films. To qualify for a Bay Area award, entries must have been made by a filmmaker who is a current resident of the San Francisco Bay Area (the area from Monterey to Mendocino: postal zip codes 93901 to 95457).
•The Festival is unable to waive entry fees or provide discounts beyond those indicated. Entry fees are not refundable. You may submit any number of titles; however, a separate entry form, preview copy, and entry fee are required for each title. If the Festival determines a work is entered in the wrong category and needs to reassign it, any discrepancy in entry fees between the categories must be paid by the filmmaker.
• Narrative, documentary and animated short films can also be considered for inclusion in our popular Family Films program. Family Films should be suitable for ages 7 and up. Selections in this category engage and entertain the entire family. This program traditionally mixes emerging talent with established filmmakers such as Glen Keane, Moonbot Studios, Bill Plympton, Aardman Animations, and Tonko House.
• Rough cuts or works-in-progress are accepted and reviewed. However, filmmakers are urged to submit as close to the final cut as possible. The Festival will not accept new versions of an entry unless requested by the programming staff.
• All entrants will be notified of the Festival’s decision by March 15, 2020.