SDFF 2021

Engage In What's Real

Welcome to the 2021 run of the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. We find ourselves in interesting waters once again. Still, we are looking forward to welcoming you back to our town to have eyeball-to-eyeball conversations about the films we love, the subjects that inspire us, and the filmmakers that bring it all to life.

The spirit and inspiration behind SDFF remain strong, no matter if we’re sitting all together in a theater or in our living room curled up in a blanket.

More than ever, we are committed to turning a spotlight onto the excellence of craft, character, and storytelling. Our goal is to bring you stories that offer a glimpse into unfamiliar lives, untold stories, and circumstances that need truth.

Our perspective is that learning how each human gets through the day given is the only route to understanding, compassion, and ultimately peace.

The films in this year’s program come from around the world, from China to Kenya, El Salvador to Iran. Our filmmakers address subjects as varied as climate change, social justice, and the power of art and performance, with the occasional stopover to consider how documentary functions in the current, rapidly-changing media milieu.

We are excited for you to engage with these films and these filmmakers. We hope you’ll feel the inspiration that we felt when first watching these films. We know that these glimpses will put us all on a pathway to understanding.

Sure we’re forced to present SDFF in a virtual setting again this year. But, on the bright side, we believe this setting invites more intimate conversations and experiences. Undivided attention offers opportunities for wholesome engagement. Let’s embrace this situation and be inspired.

The Films

We Presented

SDFF 2021 Award Winners

MCGLOTHLIN DOCUMENTARY SPIRIT AWARD

SDFF proudly announces the Inaugural presentation of the Jean McGlothlin Documentary Spirit Award to filmmakers and longtime festival supporters, Vivien Hillgrove and James LeBrecht. While both of the recipients are esteemed filmmakers whose work has shown at the festival, they have also supported the SDFF over the years and shown great generosity in mentoring younger filmmakers, attending films and giving feedback, and holding panel discussions and Q&As.

This is the first time SDFF has given out what will be an award, established in honor of the commitment to documentary and documentarians shown by Jean McGlothlin, Co-Director and Lead Programmer. It is awarded to members of the SDFF family who embody dedication, integrity, and passion for the art form and its filmmaking community. The award will be given out annually to recipients selected by McGlothlin

VIVIEN HILLGROVE

For the boldness through which she pursues her craft, her life and the mentoring she does along the way. Viv’s dedication to the story-telling power of documentary film: beyond a flash of light on the truth illuminating the windows of otherness of all who inhabit this planet.

Vivien Hillgrove has over 50 years of experience as an editor (visual and sound) for both narrative feature films and documentaries, working on Hollywood Classics like Amadeus and Blue Velvet,as well as intimate documentaries In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee and We Breathe Again. She has served as an editing advisor at multiple Sundance Institute Documentary Composer Edit Labs, as well as for the Latino Producers Academy, and for Chicken & Egg Pictures. Hillgrove is currently working on her documentary, Vivien’s Wild Ride (working title).

JAMES LEBRECHT

For the boldness through which he pursues his craft, his life and the mentoring he does along the way. Jim’s dedication to the story-telling power of documentary film: beyond a flash of light on the truth illuminating the windows of otherness of all who inhabit this planet. 

Best-known for his recent directorial debut Crip Camp,(co-directed & co-written with Nicole Newnham), James LeBrecht has over 170 film credits to his name and 40 years of experience as a film and theater sound designer and mixer, in addition to his work as an author, disability rights activist, and filmmaker. Jim is also the founder of Berkeley Sound Artists (BSA), an audio house that specializes in post production audio for documentaries that has operated for over 20 years, and done work on many vaunted projects.

SDFF 2021 Award Winners

AUDIENCE AWARDS

WINNER:

A GIFT FROM GOD

Nefise Özkal Lorentzen + Jørgen Lorentzen
2019, Norway + Turkey, 61 mins.

An investigation of the truth behind the bloodiest coup attempt in Turkey’s political history.

BEST SHORT

WINNER:

ONE ALL THE WAY

David Baram
2020, United States, 25 mins.

Three elderly Jersey guys search for the world’s greatest Hot Texas Weiner and discover what happened to their hometown. West Coast Premiere!

SDFF 2021 AWARD WINNERS

JURY AWARDS

BEST FEATURE

WINNER:

QUEEN LEAR

Pelin Esmer
2019, Turkey, 84 mins.

King Lear traveling on the dusty roads to the remotest villages of Turkey turns delicately into Queen Lear in the hands of a peasant-women theatre group.

SPECIAL MENTION

WUHAN WUHAN
Yung Chang, 2020, China, 95 mins

SDFF 2021 JURORS
FEATURE FILM

DANIELLE BEVERLY
Director: Old South;
Dusty Groove: The Sound of Transition

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MICHAEL EHRENZWEIG
Supervising Producer – ITVS

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LUKE LORENTZEN
Director: Midnight Family,
Jury Award SDFF 2020

BEST
SHORT

WINNER:

UNFORGIVABLE

Marlén Viñayo
2020, El Salvador, 36 mins.

A ruthless hitman for the 18th Street gang serves his sentence in a Salvadoran evangelical prison, where he is guilty not only of his crimes, but of being gay.

SPECIAL MENTION

I WANT TO MAKE A FILM ABOUT WOMEN
Karen Pearlman, 2020, Australia, 12 mins

SDFF 2021 JURORS
SHORT FILM

CHRIS FISHER
Playwright, Professor and Educator

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EMILY COHEN IBAÑEZ
Filmmaker; BGDM-Oakland National Project Coordinator

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HANNA NORDENSWAN
Director: Night Cleaners,
Jury Award SDFF 2020

BEST
MINI

WINNER:

KAPAEMAHU

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson
2019, Hawaii/USA, 9 mins.

This richly animated short brings to life the hidden history of four monumental stones on Waikiki Beach, and the legendary transgender healing spirits within them.

SPECIAL MENTION

DEAR JOHNNY REB
Philip H Scarborough Jr., 2019, U.S., 8 mins

SDFF 2021 JURORS
MINI

DAWN VALDEZ
Director: The Pushouts, SDFF 2019; BGDM

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THEO RIGBY
Director: Sin Pais, SDFF 2010;
iNation; Stanford Art + Art History

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IZA PAJAK
Director: The Whale,
Jury Award SDFF 2020

SDFF 2021 FESTIVAL PARTNERS

SDFF DIGITAL ARCHIVES

DIGITAL ARCHIVES OF SDFF 2020 DOCS MAKES HOUSE CALLS ALL-DIGITAL PROGRAM, THE ORIGINAL SDFF 2020 PROGRAM (FULL SELECTION), AND SDFF 2019 ARE ALL AVAILABLE…

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