The mission of the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival is to bring the best independent documentary films in the world, and their filmmakers, to Sonoma County audiences. The event, now in its tenth year, continues to bring audiences from all across Northern California to meet and engage with filmmakers from around the world in late March.
The city of Sebastopol has long stood for social justice and direct action for a variety of causes through the years. This has lead to a very engaged, politically and socially savvy audience that seeks to better understand the world we inhabit and the complex interconnections between people, animals, plants and the broader ecosystem. Not only that, but Sebastopol also provides a level of hospitality and family to the filmmakers who attend, with Sebastopol residents opening their homes in order to provide an experience unlike anywhere else in the film festival circuit.
The Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival exhibits on six screens simultaneously along with venue partner Rialto Cinemas Sebastopol, presenting an average of 60-70 films per year to a combined audience of 4,000 documentary film lovers, industry guests, and fellow filmmakers.
The festival provides a number of educational programs during the festival event weekend, including Peer Pitch West, a collaborative opportunity for documentary filmmakers to get constructive feedback on their documentary works-in-progress from an audience comprised of other filmmakers and documentary enthusiasts. Peer Pitch West is produced in partnership with Washington D.C.-based Docs in Progress and online documentary community The D-Word.
The festival also provides an annual panel discussion or a speaker on a specific topic of documentary film production or construction. Subjects have ranged from sound design to cinematography to music composition and more. Each year provides an excellent opportunity to learn from some of the masters of the craft.
The Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival is presented by Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Sebastopol Center for the Arts is a grassroots, nonprofit arts center created in 1988 by a coalition of art, business and community members to provide art programs and services for all sectors of the community. For more information about SCA Click Here.
Film Festival Staff and Steering Committee
- Anjana Utarid, Executive Director
- Cynthi Stefenoni, Festival Producer
- Jean McGlothlin, Lead Programmer/Filmmaker Liaison
- Barbara Coen, Box Office Manager
- Kathryn Davy, Volunteer Coordinator
- Jann Eyrich, Marketing and Sponsorships
- Jane Winslow, Programmer
- Eve Lindi, Information Systems, Production Assistant
- Natalie Martens, Liaison Coordinator
- Jen Vertz, Social Media and Special Events
- Jeffrey Zankel, Member At Large
Film Festival Founder
Eliza Hemenway founded the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival in 2007 with a vision to showcase strong, independent documentary films in West Sonoma County, and to network the local film community.