Mar 23, 2021
Pioneering Film Literacy Program Announces Festival Sections and Anniversary Programming
San Francisco, CA – SFFILM announced today the lineup for the Schools at the Festival (SATF) program, celebrating its 30th anniversary as part of the 2021 San Francisco International Film Festival (April 9–18). The long-running success of the SATF program with audiences, educators, and families led to the formation of the pioneering year-round SFFILM Education department and the development of a robust set of nationally recognized programs, connecting students with the best of independent and international cinema and inspiring a new generation of film-lovers and creators.
Started in 1991 by Robert S. Donn, a retired teacher and longtime SFFILM Festival volunteer, the Schools at the Festival program has brought thousands of Bay Area students to curated Festival screenings and enabled them to engage with filmmakers from around the world. In addition to the Festival screenings, SFFILM Education engages students and teachers throughout the year, programming school screenings, bringing filmmakers into classrooms, and providing filmmaking education for teens. Over the past year through the pandemic, SFFILM Education produced online events dedicated to our younger audiences. Some of the produced events included a presentation of Pixar’s Soul with director Pete Docter, co-director Kemp Powers, and producer Dana Murray, and programs featuring each of the films which were nominated in the Best Animated Feature category for the 2021 Academy Awards®.
Serving more than 15,000 students and teachers each year, SFFILM Education works with classrooms throughout the Bay Area—from kindergarten through high school—to help students develop media literacy, cultural awareness, global understanding, and a lifelong appreciation of cinema. Through its cutting-edge programs, it aims to cultivate students’ imaginations, prepare them for filmmaking careers, and empower them to succeed in a media-saturated world.
Beyond SATF, SFFILM Education’s year-round programs include Screenings for Schools, Filmmakers in the Classroom, Art and Science of Lucasfilm, Young Filmmakers Camp, Family Programming, and providing educators with Teaching Tools.
The Screenings for Schools program is a year-round series of carefully curated films and presentations at theaters, schools, and other venues in the San Francisco Bay Area. Films are selected to support the curriculum of a range of grade levels and subject areas, and all programs are interactive experiences with opportunities for students to engage with filmmakers, industry professionals and subject area specialists in post-screening discussions and Q&As.
Filmmakers in the Classroom is a semester-long program that provides on-site professional development for teachers in grades 4–12 who want to integrate media making and viewing into their classroom curriculum. In partnership with a local professional filmmaker and SFFILM Education staff, participating teachers develop customized curricula that give students intensive, hands-on instruction in media literacy, critical thinking, and filmmaking.
Now in its thirteenth year, Art & Science of Lucasfilm is designed to draw connections between the art, math, and science being taught in Bay Area schools and the processes behind the mind-blowing special effects, creative character design, and visual storytelling seen in recent blockbuster hits. Recent presentations have included StageCraft and The Mandalorian with virtual production supervisor Ian Milham, technology production manager Ciku Karanja, and virtual production CG supervisor Eoghan Cunneen (December 2020) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi with Lucasfilm executive producer Janet Lewin, ILM compositor Charmaine Chan, and ILM animator Matt Shumway (April 2018).
SFFILM Education’s Young Filmmaker Camp is an intensive summer program for teens ages 14–18 to learn from world-class film professionals in a fun, interactive, and collaborative environment. All students dive deep into the filmmaking process by learning about screenwriting, storyboarding, production, cinematography, sound, editing, and much more. In 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, camp was done completely online.
Building on the success of the popular family-oriented programming at the San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM has significantly expanded its year-round Family Programming. These programs—which include screenings of family-friendly films with Q&As, interactive cinema experiences, hands-on workshops, opportunities to engage directly with filmmakers and industry professionals, and more—seek to provide accessible and enlightening film experiences as a resource for families all over the Bay Area. SFFILM’s family programming also utilizes the SFFILM Education team’s expertise in developing media literacy and critical thinking skills, illuminating diverse world cultures, and inspiring a lifelong appreciation of cinema.
Custom built film-focused Teaching Tools, created to aid parents and educators and enhance the film-watching experience for students, can be found archived on the SFFILM website here. Developed by SFFILM Education staff and Bay Area teachers, they have been designed to integrate each film’s content into curricula. Additional guides will be provided for the Festival program.
SFFILM Education appreciates the support of sponsors Apple and Netflix.
2021 SFFILM Festival Schools at the Festival
The 2021 SFFILM Festival will run April 9–18 with digital screenings being hosted through the SFFILM site and live screenings and performances at the Fort Mason Flix drive-in theater. Tickets and streaming passes on sale at sffilm.org.
For the re-imagined 2021 SFFILM Festival, three documentaries, one narrative feature, and 23 short films have been carefully selected as part of SATF to suit a broad range of curricula and grade levels. The program will also include three SATF-only presentations with Netflix, Tonko House, and Lucasfilm. Targeted subject areas include computer science, language arts, environmental science, foreign languages, history, journalism, math, science, social studies, and women’s studies. Thanks to the generous support of The Gerald (Jerry) B. Rosenstein Trust, the Nellie Wong Magic of Movies Education Fund, and other generous supporters, all tickets for students and teachers will be free for all SATF screenings. The full SATF lineup can be found below.
Features and Mid-Length Films
Recommended for middle and high school students.
Cuban Dancer, Roberto Salinas, Italy/Canada/Chile
Tremendous dance sequences and a teenager’s extraordinary talent drive this captivating documentary as a top Cuban ballet student emmigrates and begins to study anew in Florida.
Homeroom, Peter Nicks, USA
Peter Nicks celebrates the resilience and grit of Oakland High School’s class of 2020 during a year of extraordinary challenges with this compelling and immersive documentary.
Lily Topples the World, Jeremy Workman, USA
A young girl’s passion for building and toppling vivid domino creations leads her to YouTube stardom and a career as an artist and entrepreneur.
Mum Is Pouring Rain, Hugo de Faucompret, France
Jane, a strong-minded and independent little girl, is sent off to stay with her grandma during the holidays while her mother struggles to overcome a bout with depression. Reluctant and angry at first, Jane brightens as the trip quickly turns into a welcome adventure filled with time for healing, magical discovery, and unexpected friendships. Mid-length film
Writing With Fire, Rintu Thomas/Sushmit Ghosh, India
A trio of fearless female journalists expose rampant sexism and corruption in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in this moving and triumphant documentary.
Short Film Sections
Shorts 6: Family Shorts
This diverse collection of stories is sure to please the smallest members of your family, along with the young at heart and everyone in-between. Featuring a delicately animated adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen classic, and a vertically challenged dinosaur longing to give his best friend a comforting embrace. A mix of studio and independently produced animated and live-action short films, the program features the latest from DreamWorks, To: Gerard, and from Disney, Us Again along with A Concerto Is a Conversation, the moving personal portrait of race in America, recently nominated in the Best Documentary Short Subject category at the 2021 Oscars.
Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Broken Bird, Rachel Harrison Gordon, USA
A Concerto Is a Conversation, Kris Bowers/Ben Proudfoot, USA
Intermission, Freddie Claire/Simon de Glanville/Alice Jones, UK
Kapaemahu, Dean Hamer/Joe WIlson/Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, USA
The Magical Forest and the Things, Dave Russo, USA
Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug, Galen Fott, USA – WORLD PREMIERE
To: Gerard, Taylor Meacham, USA
Tulip, Andrea Love/Phoebe Wahl, USA
Us Again, Zach A. Parrish, USA
Shorts 7: Youth Works
Young filmmakers from throughout the world offer up fresh and daring voices in this selection of narrative, documentary, and animated films. From a lighthearted and comedic vision of the apocalypse to a documentary about working and living in Kozan, Adana, Turkey, to earnest treatises on growing up through the COVID-19 pandemic, these films are an introduction to the cinematic future. Recommended for middle and high school students.
A Cure for Humanity, Jared Fontecha/Iziyah Robinson, USA
Greta, Sofie Verweyen , USA
I hate winters., Shivesh Pandey, India – WORLD PREMIERE
Ilea, Samuel Correa, USA
Just as I am, Arianna Azzaro, Italy – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Kozan, İlayda İşeri, Turkey – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
A Loco Vivid Dream, Marak Ścibior, Poland
Music for the End of the World, Emmanuel Li, UK
STRANGER STRINGS, Ava Saloman, USA – WORLD PREMIERE
Through Their Eyes, Alisha Heng, USA
What’s That Sound, Tanya Cyster, USA – WORLD PREMIERE
School at the Festival Presentations
Exclusive screenings and behind the scenes presentations only accessible to students and educators at the 2021 SFFILM Festival.
Acorns: Tonko House Presentation (recommended for grades K-5)
Art & Science of Lucasfilm: ILM Art Department, Presentation by Tyler Scarlet (recommended for grades 6-12)
Calamity, A Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary, Rémi Chayé, France/Denmark (recommended for grades 3-12)
City of Ghosts: Netflix Presentation, Elizabeth Ito, USA (recommended for grades K-5)
My Octopus Teacher, Pippa Ehrlich/James Reed, USA (recommended for grades 3-12)
Available exclusively to Bay Area educators and students, tickets may be reserved only through the SATF office by contacting Director of Education Keith Zwölfer at firstname.lastname@example.org. SATF tickets cannot be reserved through the Festival box office.
2021 San Francisco International Film Festival
The longest-running film festival in the Americas, the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM Festival) is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country’s most beautiful cities. The 64th edition runs April 9–18 with both Live Events and Streaming Programs, and features a drive-in, juried awards with cash prizes, and an exciting roster of filmmaker guests.
SFFILM is a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM is a year-round organization delivering screenings and events to more than 75,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 15,000 students, teachers, and families annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services.