About the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival is a bridge for independent non-fiction filmmakers to reach as wide an audience as possible.  Each film programmed for SDFF is a signature of excellence in craft, character and storytelling.

We are driven by an immense curiosity to learn and understand the lives of others, lives different in experience and age from our own.  We need documentaries in our lives now more than ever.  They are the touchstones of reality from the past and present that can guide us into an enlightened future.

Sebastopol is in Sonoma County, California. On a good day, we’re only an hour north of San Francisco. We are a mix of small-town folk, organic farmers, prize-winning vintners, environmentalists, old hippies and more artists per acre than most. We’re curious, engaged, opinionated and welcoming to all.

The Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival exhibits on six screens simultaneously at Sebastopol Center for the Arts and Rialto Cinemas® Sebastopol, presenting an average of 65-70 films per year to a combined audience of 5,000 to 6,000 documentary film lovers, industry guests, and fellow filmmakers.

SDFF 2019 provided a number of educational programs during festival weekend. Peer Pitch West had two days for their 8th year at SDFF, produced in partnership with Washington D.C.-based Docs in Progress. Executive Director, Erica Ginsberg expertly facilitates this opportunity for documentary filmmakers to get constructive feedback on their documentary works-in-progress from an audience comprised of other filmmakers and documentary enthusiasts.

Panel discussions included sound design, cinematography and music composition.  Each was an excellent opportunity to learn from, and network with, a unique collection of masters of the craft.  This year, led by Lowell Bergman, founder, Investigative Reporting Program at U.C. Berkeley’s School of Journalism, we explored the discipline of filmmakers and journalists as they go about finding the truth.

SDFF was founded by passionate indie filmmakers as an arts program of Sebastopol Center for the Arts. The Festival and its subsequent Best of the Fest series is run by an all-volunteer Steering Committee.  Each year the team produces an event that has become an internationally respected destination for documentary enthusiasts and filmmakers alike.  We are all enriched in the experience.

Film Festival Staff and Steering Committee

Anjana Utarid, Executive Director

Cynthi Stefenoni, Co-Director/Producer

Jane Winslow, Co-Director/Programmer/Education & Technical Manager

Jean McGlothlin, Co-Director/Lead Programmer

Corella Di Fede, Organization/Liaison Manager

Anthony Marchitiello, Print Traffic Manager

Kathryn Davy, Volunteer Manager

Eve Lindi, Pixel Wrangler

Jen Vertz, Social Media & Special Events

Jeffrey Zankel, Programmer/Filmmaker Liaison

Lori Solomon, Programmer/Filmmaker Liaison

Olga Browning, Filmmaker Liaison/Housing Coordinator/Programmer

Emmy Scharlatt, Programmer

Eliza Hemenway, Founder

Teresa Book, Co-Founder

Tommie Dell Smith, Co-Founder

Our Mission

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.

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