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SFFILM Festival Returns with New Virtual and In-Person Formats

Naked Singularity
By Cicero A. Estrella

The San Francisco International Film Festival has been reimagined.

The 64th edition of the long-running festival returns April 9 to 18 with more than 100 films that will be featured through both digital screenings and in-person events, albeit the latter is in a format suited for our social-distancing times. Last year’s festival was canceled due to health and safety concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The challenges of this year provided a creative and logistical obstacle course that the staff has navigated with great optimism and energy,” SFFILM Executive Director Anne Lai said. “Inspired by the wonderful films we were seeing and motivated to create a fun and easy experience for our audiences and filmmakers, we are not only able to bring everyone together both digitally and in person, but to ensure that our festival honors and celebrates a sense of community and connectivity.”

The in-person screenings will be held at the Fort Mason Flix drive-in theater, located at the waterfront at 2 Marina Blvd.

The SFFILM website will host the online screening of the films, and additionally will connect audiences with artists through filmmaker talks and Q&A’s, online festival and film parties, industry working events, artists and audience mixers, and more.

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

Here’s the 2021 festival by the numbers: 42 feature films, 56 short films and—for the first time ever—five mid-length films.

Thirteen films will make their world premiere, 15 their North American debuts. The lineup of 103 total films come from 41 countries, with 57 percent of them by female filmmakers and 57 percent by BIPOC filmmakers.

“Our filmmakers, our community, and our country are all under enormous pressure right now,” SFFILM Director of Programming Jessie Fairbanks said. “Putting together a festival in this environment was both challenging and a gift. As we considered how to best serve our audience and filmmakers, we were continuously amazed and inspired by the original and provocative work being produced around the world under incredibly challenging circumstances.”

SFFILM Makers, the organization’s artist development program, provided support—at various stages of development—to six of this year’s featured films. In addition, an honorarium was given to every filmmaker in recognition of the past year’s incredible challenges.

This year’s lineup includes Chase Palmer’s Naked Singularity starring John Boyega; Bo McGuire’s Socks on Fire; and Marilyn Agrelo’s Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street.

For the complete lineup and schedule, ticket information and more, visit sffilm.org.

Photos courtesy of SFFILM

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