Feb 9, 2024
At SFFILM, the new year brings a flurry of movement to get our yearly Festival planning underway. However, one team has been hard at work since last summer to bring filmmakers from around the world to join us at the 67th San Francisco International Film Festival this April.
“The programming team for 2024 comprises curators who I admire and respect; it has been a pleasure building the 67th Festival line-up with each of these individuals.” shared Director of Programming, Jessie Fairbanks. “The group includes year round programmers, Rod Armstrong Jordan Klein, and myself, as well as several talented seasonal programmers who curate with organizations around the globe.”
Under Jessie’s leadership, the team is grounded in the longevity and community of SFFILM. Learn more about each programmer below. We look forward to sharing the programmer’s selects and the full program on March 27.
Who’s Programming for the Festival this year?
Jessie Fairbanks, Director of Programming
Born and raised in California, Jessie began her career producing documentaries and clip television for national networks. She spent a decade in NYC producing large-scale events, festivals, and creative projects for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Tribeca Film Festival, New York Film Festival, HBO, The Documentary Group, David Byrne, and Google.
Prior to becoming the Director of Programming for SFFILM, Jessie spent 14 years curating for DOC NYC, Tribeca Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, MountainFilm and others.
Jessie is a voting member of Cinema Eye Honors, screens for Sundance, and is a grant evaluator for Chicken & Egg Pictures. She served on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Underground Film Festival and Independent Film Alliance for several years, as well as numerous film festival juries and selection committees.
Rod Armstrong, Associate Director of Programming
Rod Armstrong was a cinephile before he could drive, highlighting all of the foreign films coming to the San Diego area and cajoling his parents to chauffeur him to local arthouses. The passion turned into a career with Reel.com, a website with a wide array of editorial content about films. Rod began as a contributing editor and wrapped up his work there as Director of Content. Having long been interested in the endeavors of SFFILM, Rod began in 2003 in the publicity department. Later that year, he joined the Programming team and has been there ever since. Though Rod’s interest in film is broad and omnivorous, his greatest passion, harking back to those teenage years without vehicular transportation, remains international narrative cinema.
Jordan Klein, Programmer and Curations Manager
A film lover and filmmaker at heart—Jordan Klein graduated from UC Berkeley and got his start as assistant to the legendary film producer Fred Roos (Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Lost in Translation), marking the beginning of his career within the film industry in Los Angeles. He served on numerous productions in mediums ranging from feature film, television, commercials, short films, and music videos. His foundational working experiences helped facilitate his transition to being a production coordinator and administrative assistant to the president of film and television at PRG (Production Resource Group), a multinational company providing lighting and audio solutions to film productions and live concerts for renowned music artists around the globe. Eventually returning to both film production and the San Francisco Bay Area, Jordan boarded both independent productions with the likes of American Zoetrope (Love is Love is Love) and major studio productions with Warner Brothers (The Matrix Resurrections) and Marvel Studios (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings). Jordan’s deep passion, love, and commitment towards cinema brought his heart to a home at SFFILM as their Programming Coordinator.
Samah Ali, Festival Programmer—Shorts
Samah Ali is a distributor and film programmer based in New York City. She is the Video Programming Manager at Stellar Entertainment, putting movies and television shows on airplanes around the world. She also programs for Academy Award qualifying festivals San Francisco International Film Festival, DOC NYC, and Hot Docs Film Festival. In her spare time, Samah sits on the Board of Directors at The Black Screen Office in Canada and wastes time on the app formerly known as Twitter, reach out to her @sistersamah.
Kristal Sotomayor, Festival Programmer—Features
Kristal Sotomayor is a bilingual Latinx programmer, journalist, and filmmaker based in Philadelphia. They have been distinguished as a 2023 DOC NYC Documentary New Leader and received the prestigious Rockwood Documentary Leadership Fellowship. Kristal is in their third year programming feature films for SFFILM. They have programmed for film festivals across the country including True/False Film Fest, Frameline and Tri-Co Film Fest as well as being the Programming Director for the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival. Kristal’s short immigrant rights documentary Expanding Sanctuary premiered at the 2023 St. Louis International Film Festival. They are in post-production on a short documentary Don’t Cry For Me All You Drag Queens about a legendary drag queen and in-development on the short docu-animation adventure film Alx Through The Labyrinth. Kristal is an Outfest Creative Hope Fellow, If/Then North Shorts Resident, MDOCS Storytellers’ Institute Visiting Fellow, DCTV Docu Work-In-Progress Lab Fellow, and NeXtDoc Fellow.
Bedatri Choudhury, Festival Programmer—Features
Bedatri studied literature and cinema in New Delhi and attended graduate school at Tisch School of the Arts. She has worked extensively with documentary films, particularly in the areas of program management and commissioning. She was most recently the Managing Editor of Documentary magazine, and is a programmer with DOCNYC and SFFILM. An alumna of the NYFF Critics Academy, Sundance and SXSW Press Inclusion Initiatives, the National Critics’ Institute, and Berlinale Talents, she lives in New York City and can often be heard on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. She is presently The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Arts and Entertainment Editor.
Amada Torruella, Festival Programmer—Shorts
Amada is a mixed Salvadoran artist, filmmaker and film programmer raised in El Salvador and Canada, based between El Salvador and Southern California. Amada centers joy, tenderness and beauty in the mundane among nuanced and difficult situations and is passionate about exploring memory, grief, Central American landscapes and the relationship between people and territory. Amada’s work has been shown in The New Yorker, BlackStar Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, amongst others; Amada is currently developing their first feature film: Vena Acuatica, a finalist at the IF/THEN Global Pitch Competition on Environmental Stories at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). Since 2014, Amada has worked as a film programmer and has programmed for Indie Grits, New Orleans FF, Wildscreen Festival and Alharaca El Salvador (Feminist Newsroom).
Joseph Flores, Programming Manager
Joseph Flores brings a wealth of experience to SFFILM in working within the Bay Area nonprofit media arts scene. As the organization embarks on a new journey at the familiar surroundings of 9th Street, Joseph has literally come full circle as that’s where he began his career having previously worked as an Office Manager during his stint at the Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA). Since then, he was fortunate enough to have caught on to SFFILM as a coordinator while preparing for its 50th Anniversary and has since worked within the Programming Department in different capacities. Joseph currently oversees the departmental interoffice systems as the Programming Manager and also handles the annual submissions process for the SFFILM Festival.
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