What better way to celebrate the legacy of everyday heroes that brought joy and life to the Bayview than a night of musical performances and interactive murals?

Written by Iris Crawford

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The scene outside of Laughing Monk Brewing the night of “City is Alive”, featuring an interactive motion capture mural projected on the side of the building; photo by Lucas Bradley

Entitled “City is Alive”, SF Urban Film Fest in partnership with Young Community Developers, Imprint City, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, created a night of storytelling that featured two multi-layered video projections — the first was the BayviewLIVE hip-hop concert and the second was a series of interactive videos of historic murals that celebrate the legacy of everyday heroes who brought resources and joy to the Bayview. These heroes include the Big Six, Lenora LeVon, Santie Huckaby and the Bayview community coming together to restore a beloved mural, Tuzuri Watu. The event, held on October 17, 2020, was live on the street on Egbert Avenue as well as livestreamed on Yerba Buena’s YouTube. Upon arrival, lights and laughter could be seen and heard in the air. Barricades separated the event goers from the street. Picnic tables as well as high chairs and tables were set up inside the barriers. Projected on a garage door, the video of the interactive murals came alive through augmented animation and motion sensors. …


How Young Community Developers Built a Coalition for Action Using Film

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Workshop participant, Maria Judice, presenting her group's proposal. Photo by Shantre Pinkney

At its core, this is a story about building generational wealth, power, and agency for the Black community in San Francisco.

Where do white papers go? Not unlike a resolution passed behind closed chamber doors (res·o·lu·tion noun. implying an unstoppable path to realization) white papers unfollowed by appropriate action mean little to anyone. Convening around a small table at the Young Community Developers (YCD) office, a seemingly eclectic group of people considered just this — how might they organize YCD’s network around a white paper addressing housing needs in the Bayview?


Workshops for Urbanists to use Storytelling as a Design Tool

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Planners, filmmakers, architects, community organizers, and self-identified urbanists gather in our sold out “Storytelling in Transportation Planning” workshop. Photo by Erina C Alejo

“Most people think storytelling is an afterthought — a method to communicate the finished product. We want to flip that notion and have people to think of storytelling as a design process.” — Fay Darmawi, Executive Director of SF Urban Film Fest

Our workshops are designed to teach storytelling as a design process that urban and city planners can use to best serve people. All of our workshops aim to relay these takeaways:

  • Design for people.
  • Be cognizant of the story you are trying to tell and to whom you are telling it.


Written by Fay Darmawi and Erina C Alejo

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Courtesy of The Town I Live In

Friday, February 7, 2020, in the heartbeat of SOMA Pilipinas — the Bayanihan Community Center — community members, familiar and new, gathered for Culture of Resistance Versus Culture Vultures. The event is a screening of short films, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, that use arts and culture to promote community preservation and self-determination in the face of urban change. Culture of Resistance Versus Culture Vultures marks SF Urban Film Fest and SOMA Pilipinas’s first of many collaborations. …


Written by Amber Sweat and Robin Ocubillo Abad

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Courtesy of Ashmina

For some, the concept of a “diaspora” seems to denote a finite game. There is an origin, a direction, and a total, incontestable end. People shift from one geographical space to the next — from point A to point B — and the journey ultimately concludes once a boat meets land, a gate opens, or a checkpoint guard gives a discernible (albeit begrudging) nod of welcoming. Yet in the experience of migrants, it is evident that diaspora might not have the foolproof “end”; it is an ongoing process of assimilation, trauma, memory and subjectification for those caught in its tumultuous waters. …


Written by Garima Raheja, Susannah Smith, and Robin Ocubillo Abad

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Courtesy of Mong Kok First Aid

“They would rather die than give up their home, and when they die, they float on a river of trash.” — people’s poetry of Hong Kong from the Bauhinia Project

The SF Urban Film Fest 2020 season focused on Place and the Populist Revolt; and at the program on February 3, 2020, Hong Kong protesters are on center stage.

At a time where youth activists are leading radical social change movements around the world, it is especially poignant to start the evening with Mong Kok First Aid, a film centering the narratives of young emergency medics who are officially neutral in conflict of Hong Kong’s erosion of civil liberties. They offer life-saving services to any and all injured, including police. Yet when a friend alerts one of them to some leaked WhatsApp screenshots from police group chats, the situation takes a turn for the terrifying, elucidating the intense surveillance maintained by the state authorities. As first aid workers see their own faces, their own names highlighted in police discussions, they realize that even neutrality is not safe: their movement, and their lives, are under constant attack. The long history of Hong Kong’s oppression by the United Kingdom and then by China is not forgotten, and the consequences of the Yellow Umbrella Movement of 2014 reverberate through the souls of the seven million that call Hong Kong home. Revolution is not new, but now it’s a new normal. …


by Erica Waltemade

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During the lunchtime hour on Wednesday, February 7th, the SF Urban Film Fest’s Alexa, Fix My City program was screened in a crowded room at SPUR on Mission Street. The program of videos featured seven different American city’s pitch videos of the 238 cities who responded to Amazon’s 2019 Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new headquarters HQ2. Cities featured in the program included Dallas/Fort Worth, Boston, Las Vegas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.

The first video was from Dallas/Fort Worth, who’s short pitch featured a wide array of community members responding to the prompt, “I love DFW because of _______” Positive descriptions of the region included adjectives like, “diversity,” “vibrant,”sustainable,” etc. …


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Photo: Austin Blackwell

SF Urban Film Fest, which hosts its annual film festival on February 2–9 2020, was founded because we believe that stories are the best way to engage the public in the creation of just and equitable cities. We’ve started to take that idea one step further with storytelling workshops, specifically around issues of transit justice and affordable housing. These workshops come in two parts. First, we bring filmmakers and community members together to study the principles of storytelling. Then we apply these principles to solve a real-world problem as defined by a local organization. …


Reporting from FestForums SF | May 8, 2019

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Panelists from left: Ric Victores (moderator), Frances Wallace, George F. Ridgely, Jr., Jonah Blechman, Jenn Stokes. Photo: Omeed Manocheri

The end of June marks 50 years since the Stonewall Riots that led to the first Pride marches, giving us an opportunity to look back at the progress of gay liberation and discuss the work that’s still ahead. In this spirit of reflection, FestForums San Francisco brought together some of the most influential LGBTQ festival directors to share their challenges and joys — from working with corporate underwriters, to finding talent that drives the most important issues forward, to creating an inclusive internal culture.

Sharing a deep interest in the issues of diversity and representation in festival programming and production, SF Urban Film Fest attended the conference to report on this talk. We’ve summarized the main takeaways with the speakers’ own words. …


…and thoughts on where we go from here

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Photo: Austin Blackwell

SF Urban Film Fest seeks to invite new perspectives and voices to the urban planning conversation that’s shaping the lives of all Bay Area residents. As such, diversity is core to what we do, and each season we challenge ourselves to bring more diversity to the festival. At our events, we distribute audience surveys that include a few demographic questions (yes — we’re urban nerds). …

SF Urban Film Fest

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