We Pick 10 Great San Francisco Film Festivals

If you love independent films make sure to include attending one of the popular San Francisco film festivals. There seems to be a film festival to cater to everyone's interests — since 1977 the American Indian Film Festival has showcased native films and the DocFest has been a fixture on the festival circuit since 2001.

Visiting The City By The Bay is your chance to see independent films, and more importantly see a side of San Francisco that many tourists don't see — including quirky theatres in the Mission to the Castro. Celebrate the independent filmmaker's world! FYI many of the screenings sell out in advance.

San Francisco Independent Film Festival

San Francisco Independent Film Festival

Known as Indie Fest, it's the big brother to DocFest (below).

Both serve up an extra side of movies that are out of the mainstream. Most of the parties, screenings and events are held in the Mission, the Brava Theater, Roxie Theater & the Vortex Room.

Held most years in mid February.

"While the Bay Area is flush with festivals, this one remains an under-the-radar standout."
– San Jose Mercury News

San Francisco DocFest

San Francisco DocFest

Since 2001, this annual two week-long event has celebrated the weird & wonderful world of independent documentary cinema.

See off-off-mainstream docs that show you…another side of life.

Held at the beginning of June at the same theatres that screen Indie Fest films.

The Annual CAAMFest


Formerly known as the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, the Center for Asian American Media film festival comes to SF in March.

Screenings and events happen across the city at various theaters and venues like the Castro Theatre, New People Cinema, the New Parkway Theater in Oakland), the Roxie Theater, and the Alamo Drafthouse. Asian and Asian-American cinema is the focus, of course.

San Francisco International Film Festival

San Francisco International Film Festival

For two weeks in spring, the SF Film Society takes over several theaters and screenes hundreds of independent features & documentaries from 50 countries.

Festival screenings are at several theaters including the Castro Theatre, the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and Pacific Film Archive. Many of the films are USA premieres.

SF International LGBTQ Film Festival

SF International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

It's the world's oldest and largest festival with a landmark showcase of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender cinema.

The Festival runs for two weeks in June at five venues — the Castro Theatre (of course), the Roxie Theater, and the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco; the Landmark Theatres Piedmont in Oakland; and the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley.

International South Asian American Film Festival

International South Asian American Film Festival

Here's your chance to see the latest in Bollywood movies, documentaries, and feature films from South Asian filmmakers.

For more than a decade, the South Asian American Film Festival has brought cinematic heritage & culture to Bay Area audiences — films like Slumdog Millionaire, Bend it Like Beckham and Decoding Deepak.

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

SFJFF is the largest Jewish Film Festival in the world, giving filmmakers the opportunity o explore Jewish themes.

The festival celebrates the contributions of the Jewish community to the movie industry and also honors the culture of the faith. The 3-week summer festival screens films at the Castro Theatre and other Bay Area venues.

American Indian Film Festival

American Indian Film Festival

Since 1977, the festival has showcased films that foster awareness of the culture, traditions and issues of Native Americans.

It's also the world's oldest and best known festival dedicated to Native Americans cinema. The festival was voted one of the "Best Native American Experiences" winners in the travel category at USA Today.

Film Night in the Park – FREE!

Film Night in the Park

Film Night is the best of the city's outdoor film events.

Movies are shown on a giant outdoor screen in park settings. Ride your bike and have a picnic before the screenings. Venues include Dolores Park, Washington Square Park & Union Square. Check the calendar for current listings. The fun event is organized by the non-profit The San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation.

Ocean Film Festival

Ocean Film Festival

Since its launch in 2004 the Ocean Film Festival has attracted a following from around the world — from film makers to environmental supporters.

This fascinating festival features ocean-themed films that are largely unavailable to the public. It's a good opportunity to see sensational sea stories you've never heard of!

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