Our Story

San Francisco Green Film Festival is the Bay Area’s leading movement for films and conversations about people and the planet. Our mission is to educate and connect communities through forward-thinking programs of environmental films, dialogue, and action opportunities.


Audience.jpgOur approach - the back story

San Francisco is a city of people that care deeply about the environment. At the heart of the global Green movement, it leads by example and challenges government, business and communities alike to live a more sustainable future.

But, even here, it can be hard to cut through the noise, to get to the facts and feel you can make something happen.

Sitting in the SF premiere of The Age of Stupid in 2009, Rachel Caplan realized her two passions - film and the environment - could come together to do exactly that. The film itself was provoking audience debate on climate change, but so was the way it brought people together in a global wave of discussion, ideas and action. 

At the same time, as Festival Director at the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, Rachel was approached constantly by filmmakers struggling to get their documentaries screened. From agriculture to rainforests, from mining to monkeys, there was a diverse mix of environmental stories all seeking to reach audiences in San Francisco.

Rachel spotted an opportunity to use the power and immediacy of these films, coupled with the local environmental expertise and enthusiasm, to inspire social change on a large scale. In 2011, the first San Francisco Green Film Festival was launched with 90 new, international films and an emphasis on audience discussion and participation.

Now heading into its fifth year, the annual festival and year-round screenings add up to over 200 compelling and relevant environmental film programs. Each festival presents carefully-curated, new films from both established and emerging filmmakers. The festival also brings together green artists from across the Bay Area, including musicians, painters, sculptors, designers, and photographers who are inspired by the environment. They have all provided a participatory space for the eco-savvy and green-curious to meet filmmakers, environmental experts and campaigners to watch, discuss, and create ideas for a better world. 

The core of SFGFF programs is to bring audiences the films, expertise and participation that gives them a chance to find their thing, their environmental passion, then hook on and act on it.

Opening Night at Bently ReserveOutdoor screening at SPURTake Action
Photos by: Tommy Lau; SPUR Urbanist; Tommy Lau. Photo at top: Rafael Roy

Our goals - what we do everyday

Our primary goal is to use the power of film to engage Bay Area residents in the global conversation on what it means to live sustainably.

We want to bring our community relevant and compelling environmental content - film, art, discussion, action steps - as a catalyst to inspire us all to change attitudes, behaviors, and take action.

We want to give American and International filmmakers the opportunity to screen new works in the Bay Area, increase awareness of their stories and support the ongoing success of their films.

We particularly want young people to participate by creating content and attending events to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders, advocates and filmmakers.

Lights! Camera! Take Action!Our impact - the change we are seeing

Storytelling is at the heart of our mission. Well-told personal stories jumping of the screen have inspired, informed and motivated our audience to become environmental changemakers. By bringing together filmmakers and community partners, by supporting new voices and local artists we have made our programs lively and accessible events.



  • Each event is amplified by post-screening discussions with leading environmental experts, including our many local Community Partners, who provide up-to-the minute information and resources for people to take action



  • Each year, many local artists also take part, inspiring environmental change through a broad array of the Arts.


  • Our programs are widely accessible to a diverse public: 1 in 5 of our programs in 2014 was free, and 12% of tickets at every paid screening were made free to schools, youth organizations, and non-profit partners.


Storytelling doesn't stay on the screen, we think our community's stories can bring to life the impact of SFGFF.

  • Our Video Story Booth captures the reactions of audience members as they leave the screening. They share with us their wonder at what they have learned and what they have been inspired to do next. WATCH >> 


  • In Chain Reaction we have put together case studies showing the ripple effect of SFGFF screenings: how they fit into wider debates about change as well as personal stories of lifestyle change. READ >>


  • We have testimonials that bring together perspectives on SFGFF from the press, filmmakers, partners and audience members. READ>>



  • Numbers and information are important too! In our 2014 Wrap Report we have brought together all the details of the 4th San Francisco Green Film Festival to show the depth and breadth of our events. READ >>

Find out more about our Festival programs, films and leadership.