Dance Film SF Announces Lineup for 9th Annual San Francisco Dance Film Festival

Dance Film SF announces its 2018 selections for the 9th annual San Francisco Dance Film Festival (SFDFF), featuring dance films from the Bay Area and around the world, running Thursday, October 4 through Sunday, October 14 across five venues. Along with screenings, the festival will include brief live performances, free presentations, a VR/360 experience room, and post-screening discussions with attending filmmakers. The festival will wrap with a celebration of Bay Area artists, including screenings of local shorts and two premieres from SFDFF’s annual filmmaking project, the Co-Laboratory, along with an awards ceremony featuring cash prizes in six categories.

Live performances by: Dimensions Dance Theater, Ben Needham-Wood and Brandon “Private” Freeman, AnA Collaborations, and tappers Ricky Huang and Melinda Marino Lerman.

View Festival Trailer HERE 

Below are highlights from this year’s programming. Complete information is available at

General Tickets and Passes:
Free – $25   / Passes $125 – $225 

Thursday, October 4 at 7:00 pm – Atrium Theater, Veterans Building (401 Van Ness Ave, SF)


PLAY SERIOUS — World Premiere
United States, 2018 (58 min.)  Director: T.M. Rives

Filmmaker T.M. Rives follows the trials and tribulations of Alexander Ekman’s process creating his  joyous new work Play for the Paris Opera Ballet.  The documentary will be preceded by the Bay Area Premiere of SIRENS TANGO, a short narrative by local filmmaker Lisa Le Lievre,  featuring SF Ballet Principal Dancers Sasha De Sola and Luke Ingham.  Mr. Ekman and members of the SIRENS TANGO cast will be in attendance.
Tickets $25 general/$75 patron/Festival Pass $125/Festival Patron Pass $225



Thursday, October 11 at 7:00 pm – Brava Theater Center (2781 24th St, SF / Tickets $25)

Four film-packed days at the Brava Theater Center kick off with a double feature event around the theme of creativity and play.


Sweden, 2018 (52:00) Director: Alexander Ekman

In a new documentary, award-winning choreographer Alexander Ekman dives into the subject of creativity—where it comes from, and whether or not it’s possible to contain and understand it—by meeting scientists, professors, artists, film directors and choreographers, with the goal of trying to understand every aspect of the phenomenon. Preceding the film will be the premiere of Mr. Ekman’s new commissioned short film for SFDFF’s Co-Laboratory, created with frequent  filmmaking partner T.M. Rives, titled Ekman’s Concise Guide to Natural Movement.


USA, 2017 (28 min.) Director: Matthew McKee, Choreographers: Ben Needham-Wood, Weston Krukow

An EMMY award-winning documentary featuring original music as six dancers transform AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, into a spectacular stage. Narrated by Giant’s announcer Mike Krukow and featuring his son, local dancer Weston Krukow. Followed by a special live performance by Ben Needham-Wood and Brandon “Private” Freeman.



USA, 1998 (98 min.)  Director: Matthew Diamond

In honor of Paul Taylor, the great American choreographer who died on August 29, 2018, the San Francisco Dance Film Festival is pleased to present a special screening of the 1998 Academy Award-winning film Dancemaker.  The now classic film directed by Matthew Diamond looks at Paul Taylor and his dance company over several months in 1997 as Taylor prepares his work “Piazzolla Caldera” from conception and rehearsals to opening night at City Center.  A trip to India by the Company is included along with rehearsal footage, interviews with his dancers, dance critics and scholars. There is also footage of a young Taylor dancing and film of the troupe performing a dozen Taylor pieces.  His genius, his roots his method of working with dancers and his sometimes difficult nature and humor are all revealed.
Saturday October 13, 6:30 p.m. Brava Theater Center (2781 24th St / Tickets $15)


USA, 2018 (90 min.)  Director: Mark Wilkinson  (West Coast Premiere)

This in-depth documentary on the history of tap is an absorbing narrative about a quintessentially American dance. Editor Jaime Arze will be in attendance. Followed by a brief live performance by tappers Ricky Huang and Michela Marino Lerman. Friday October 12, 6:30 p.m. Brava Theater Center (2781 24th St / Tickets $15)


USA, 2018 (70 min.) Director: Trey McIntyre (West Coast Premiere)

In 2014, after ten years of building his dance company in Boise, Idaho, to great acclaim, Trey McIntyre shut it down. Its sudden and mysterious end is the backdrop of McIntyre’s introspective documentary.
Saturday, October 13,  4:00 p.m. Variety Club Preview Room (582 Market St. Ste. 101/ Tickets $15)

USA, 2018 (70 min.) Director: Scott Gormley (Bay Area Premiere)

This moving documentary confronts the social stigma of being a boy in ballet. Sheds light not only on the prevalence of harassment boys endure from peers outside the studio, but also on their passion and determination to keep dancing in spite of it. With special guest Will McCoy – VP of Education for No Bully.
Sunday October 14, 1:00 p.m. Brava Theater Center (2781 24th St / Tickets $15)


USA, 2016 (82 min.)  Director: Deirdre Towers  (Bay Area Premiere)

With depth, humor and pathos, La Chana celebrates the charisma and flair of a self-taught Gypsy, a flamenco dancer who in the 1960s-80s rose to international stardom and then suddenly vanished from the public eye at the height of her career.
Friday, October 12, 4:00 p.m. Brava Theater Center (2781 24th St / Tickets $15)


Belgium, 2018 (52min.) Directors: Henri de Gerlache, Jean de Garrigues  (West Coast Premiere)

Through an analysis of Maurice Béjart’s most emblematic ballets, such as Symphony for a Man Alone and The Rite of Spring, this documentary film attempts to examine the choreographer’s creative process and reveal his ambition to leaving an everlasting mark in the world of dance.
Saturday, October 13, 2:00 p.m. Variety Club Preview Room (582 Market St. Ste. 101/ Tickets $15)


USA, 2018 (85 min.)  Director: Rob Fruchtman

Six dancers from an acclaimed NY company travel the world, working with youth who’ve experienced war, poverty, sexual exploitation, extreme prejudice and severe trauma as refugees. As they prepare to perform in public in what seems like an impossibly short time, all experience surprising transformations, unlocking wellsprings of creativity.
Saturday, October 13, 1:00 p.m. Brava Theater Center (2781 24th St / Tickets $15)


France, 2017 (66 min.)  Director: Tatjana Jankovic, Choreographer: Kaori Ito

Kaori Ito left Japan to dance, to create, to be. Reaching a defining moment in her career, she invokes her Japanese roots and tells and intimate story by inviting her father, the sculptor Hiroshi Ito, to dance with her on stage.
See schedule for screening time.


USA, 2017 (57 min.) Director: Catherine Tambini  (Bay Area Premiere)

In this intimate documentary, a group of kids from ages 5 to 15 reveal what it’s like to live with a variety of physical and developmental challenges, joining a team of dancers, helpers, and teen volunteers with an ambitious goal: a spring recital. With special guest Angela Dorantes, founder of the local danceABILITIES program for youth with disabilities.
Sunday October 7, 2:00 p.m.  Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Public Library Main Bran (100 Larkin St. / FREE)


Music Rights Workshop & Filmmaker Forum
Friday, October 12  Brava Theater Center (2781 24th St / FREE) 

10:30 a.m. Part 1: Music Rights Workshop: Presented by Brooke Wentz of  The Rights Workshop, an SF-based music supervision, licensing, and creative clearance company helping producers make the most of their music budgets.

12:00 p.m. Part 2: Filmmaker Forum
Filmmakers from around the world will be present for a discussion titled “What’s The Score?” about the way music and sound design affect every aspect of filmmaking.

Virtual Reality Experience Room

Exhibition of five 360°/VR films, featuring Indigenous Australian dance; a cosmic landscape inspired by the imagery of solar physics by Alexander Whitley;  an inspiring community of mixed abled dancers on a journey of inclusion; and towering San Francisco Ballet dancers.
Friday, October 12, 2:00 – 9:00 p.m. / Saturday, October 13 & Sunday, October 14, 12:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Virtual Reality Presentation: Meet the Makers

Filmmakers from the Virtual Reality Experience Room will be on hand to talk about their experience making their work and why VR is the future of dance. Attending are Jessica Kantor, Cael Liakos-Gilbert, and San Francisco filmmaker Jayson Tang.
Sunday, October 14, 4:30 p.m. Brava Theater Center (2781 24th St / FREE)



Award-winning work from the world’s most prestigious stages, unseen in the Bay Area.

France, 2017 (72 min.) Director: François-René Martin; Choreographer: Angelin Preljocaj

Plunge into the fantastical world of Chinese fairy tales as they serve as inspiration for award-winning choreographer Angelin Preljocaj’s Painting On The Wall. Exploring themes of illusion and transcendence, and featuring dancers from the Ballet Preljocaj.
Friday October 5, 6:30 p.m. Variety Club Preview Room (582 Market St. Ste. 101/ Tickets $15)


France, 2017 (70 min.) Film Director: Tommy Pascal,  Theater Director: Marit Moum Aune, Choreographer Cina Espejord  (US Premiere)

Norwegian National Ballet’s riveting production of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts is a play of a deep psychology that explores the question “how many lies can a person tolerate?”
Friday October 5, 8:30 p.m. Variety Club Preview Room (582 Market St. Ste. 101/ Tickets $15)


Shorts Programs

Six shorts programs sprinkled throughout the festival represent twenty-one countries, bringing dancers into a colorful array of settings and scenes. From short narratives to abstract screendance, these popular programs are at the heart of the festival.  Audiences can see the film Timecode, winner of the Palme d’Or for Short Film at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for an Academy Award in 2017. Another program called “Raising Voices”, will celebrate the work of under-represented artists in an effort to amplify their powerful messages of activism through the arts.  Shorts programs run 60 – 70 minutes and include post-screening discussions with attending filmmakers. Directors will be in attendance from countries around the globe, including Paraguay, Ukraine, and India.

Cultural Exchange: Chinese Dance Films

SFDFF has forged special new cultural exchange with the Chinese Dancers Association of Beijing and will showcase ten films from its Young Artist Platform, a program curating young Chinese creators.
See schedule for screening times.



For the third year, Catharine Clark Gallery, will present two programs of Art/Experimental films that explore the rich intersection between dance, art, and film. A shorts program of five dance films, examines the concept of gender. The evening concludes with a live performance by AnA Collaborations. Also screening is the film Spirit Labour, featuring choreographer Anna Halprin. Sunday, October 7, 6:30 p.m. (Tickets $10);  Tuesday, October 9, 6:30 p.m. (FREE)



The 2018 Co-Laboratory, a unique collaboration between two teams of choreographers and filmmakers, will premiere the project’s two short dance films. This year’s teams include choreographer Nicole Klaymoon with filmmaker Morgan Wise and choreographer Mike Esperanza with filmmaker Erin Brown Thomas. A collection of local shorts by Bay Area artists will be screened as part of the celebration, including The Town On Notice, a film by Dimensions Dance Theater, followed by a brief live performance by the company, celebrating its 45th anniversary as the first African American dance company on the West Coast. The evening will conclude with SFDFF’s award ceremony, which will include cash awards for winners, chosen by an independent invited jury, in six categories. Sunday, October 14 at 6:00pm – Brava Theater Center (2781 24th St / Tickets $25)