Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival


Designed for independent documentary filmmakers–the voices of our culture–SDFF enters its 11th year. It is the year of Destination: DOCS where films and their directors will converge on this small town in Northern California to share their stories.

We present these films to engage our community and stimulate critical thinking. DOCS have the power to catapult adventurous spirits on explorations to the edge of the world and into deepest chasms of the heart.

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. The event, now in its eleventh year, continues to bring audiences from all across Northern California to meet and engage with filmmakers from around the world in late March.

Why Sebastopol

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. Sebastopol also provides an unparalleled level of hospitality to the filmmakers who attend. Every year, Sebastopol residents open 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.

Educational Programs

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. This year we are bringing Filmmakers into classrooms to screen and discuss their work. We’re excited for the new educational opportunities that lie ahead.

Festival Presenter

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

The SDFF was originally designed as an all-volunteer documentary film festival, created by passionate indie filmmakers as a film arts program of the SCA. Today, the SDFF runs year-round with a Director supported by volunteers: Producer, Lead Programmer, Media Consultants and a Steering Committee of dedicated and talented members of the Sebastopol community.

Anjana Utarid, Executive Director

Desiree Andrews, Director of Film Programs

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

Emmy Scharlatt, Programmer

Eve Lindi, Information Systems, Production Assistant

Natalie Martens, Liaison Coordinator

Jen Vertz, Social Media and Special Events

Jeffrey Zankel, Member At Large

Adrian Causor, Intern

Eliza Hemenway, Founder

Teresa Book, Co-Founder

Tommie Dell Smith, Co-Founder

Film Festival Founder

Eliza Hemenway, Teresa Book, and Tommie Dell Smith 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.


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