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Our Story

The San Francisco Green Film Festival is a non-profit organization dedicated to screening compelling environmental films; connecting you to filmmakers & experts; and sparking green ideas & actions.

As the 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.

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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.

Since 2011, the annual festival and year-round screenings add up to many 100’s of compelling and relevant environmental film programs. 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.

Photos by: Tommy Lau; SPUR Urbanist; Tommy Lau. Photo at top: Rafael Roy

Our Goals & Programs

  • Our primary goal is to use the power of film to bring the public into the global conversation about what it means to live sustainably.
  • We want to bring our community relevant and compelling environmental and cultural 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 generations of environmental leaders, advocates and filmmakers.


Curated Film Programs

We bring audiences relevant & powerful environmental documentaries and discussions.

Film Programs

Film is a powerful medium. It wraps green messages in an entertaining package that drives urgent issues to the heart of an engaged audience. Our films are hand-picked by our screening committee to present a unique window into the world.

Since 2011, we have produced over 200 environmental film programs for Bay Area audiences. Our Annual Festival, brings over 60 new environmental documentaries to 3,700 people. Year-round we present Community Film Screenings with partners across the Bay Area.


Learning & Discovery

We use the power of film to inspire people to take action for environmental change.

Learning & Discovery

At every screening we want to build connections between the moving personal stories & ideas in our films and the local environmental context and action here in the Bay Area.

Our Lights! Camera! Take Action! program is a way to help people identify their environmental passion, hook on and take action. Working with leading environmental, arts, and community organizations across the Bay Area we provide a structure for learning, social interaction and connectivity.


Community Outreach

We have a broad reach within the Bay Area, aiming to engage residents of all backgrounds. 

Community OutreachWe want to reach anyone with a curiosity, however small, about building a sustainable future for people and the planet.

Working with our community partners gives us connections with local populations across the Bay Area, allowing us to extend our reach and serve many different people.

We give local students the opportunity to take part in the Festival for free and in 2015, 1 in 4 of our events were free to the public. Our long-standing partnership with the San Francisco Public Library allows us to provide many of these free screenings throughout the year.


Filmmaker Development

We promote filmmakers to increase the impact of their stories.

Professional Development

We want to provide a participatory space for our network of filmmakers to thrive. We create opportunities for the filmmaking community themselves to build connections with panels, workshops and networking events.

Each year we will strive for a dynamic and diverse program of films, we give particular consideration to female filmmakers and Northern Californian filmmakers. We have two specific programs to support filmmakers in telling their environmental stories: First Cut - Works In Progress; and Filmmaker Residency.


Young Filmmakers

We give young people an opportunity to share their environmental passions and stories.

Young Filmmakers

We believe in the power of film to spark a passion for environmental education and literacy. By taking part in the San Francisco Green Film Festival, we believe more local students will be inspired to pick up a camera, share their story and become environmental participants and leaders.

Every year at our Annual Festival we screen films from Bay Area youth who are actively protecting our planet and getting involved in documentary filmmaking. Students age 18 and under always submit their films for free. Our SFGFF Young Filmmaker Award honors a young filmmaker during the Festival.

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