Doc Nights is a collaborative effort to bring together the North Bay filmmaking community (in person or virtually) for a monthly screening series featuring award-winning documentaries about the environment, social justice, adventure, art and music.

Each screening features an independent documentary, followed by a conversation and Q&A with the filmmaker at the Rialto Cinemas® in downtown Sebastopol. Virtual attendees will be able to livestream the screening and participate in the discussion. 

After each event, attendees are invited to gather at Fern Bar for filmmaker drinks, discussion and networking.

Free Filmmaker Interviews, Panel Discussions, Film Introductions and SDFF Awards Speeches.

All SDFF Exclusive interviews and panels accompany film festival selections and were made during SDFF 2020 and SDFF 2021.

Filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions and master classes have been an integral part of SDFF since it began over 15 years ago. Filmmakers had been increasingly ubiquitous at the in-person festival, holding Q&As after screenings, giving presentations about their areas of expertise, pitching films, connecting with other filmmakers and engaging in panel discussions on topics related to the industry, filmmaking practice, the media in general, and, in some cases, documentary topics that were essential to a given year’s fest. When the pandemic hit and we found ourselves quickly moving to online events, we knew it would be impossible to reproduce this same level of participation, but were also presented with new possibilities for our filmmakers to communicate with their audiences and their colleagues, while also leaving a record for posterity, and an archive for folks to revisit.

This Video Exclusives section includes all free video exclusives from SDFF 2020 and 2021, from filmmaker interviews and panel discussions to awards speeches, and will also be adding new free interviews and panel discussions from 2021, which were previously only available behind the pay-wall (by buying tickets during the festival). We will release the 6 2021 paid exclusives for free for the next few months, see “Upcoming Exclusives” button for a list of those films and their release dates.


Documentary film has a long, storied relationship with social justice, and other social, environmental, and political issues, all of which are reflected by SDFF’s film selections in a given year, the importance of this relationship has come into increasingly sharp focus over the past decade, which has given every person with a cell phone and an Internet connection the ability to document the world around them, and a large distribution network through which video can be seen. While this may not be documentary film, strictly speaking, it is nonetheless a documentary format for recording, witnessing, or constructing reality. This has led to a dense public record of previously ignored issues, such as racist violence by law enforcement, while simultaneously disaggregating such issues from their context. This section of SDFF’s website is tasked with giving context to some of these issues, places to look for more information, existing documentaries, etc.

While the bulk of this section is comprised of suggested docs to watch, articles and/or criticism to read, and/or news on topics related to social justice films we have shown at the festival, it also deals with some more abstract issues. This page, like the festival itself, is also interested in the relationship between this morass of footage, these documents of witness, and established documentary and non-fiction formats. The assemblages of image-based, documentary media can be unbelievably productive, but have also led to crises in factuality and truth.

4-Part Collaboration Between SDFF + NorCal Public Media

SDFF’s nascent collaboration with Nor Cal Public Media, Declare Your Independents, is a 4-part series is hosted by actor/activist Peter Coyote and celebrates independent documentary.  Declare Your Independents is organized by the guiding principle that documentary is a powerful tool that brings deep truths to light. Documentary not only opens up new worlds to its audiences, it allows us to see these new worlds from diverse perspectives, and in doing so, to recognize our common humanity. Obligated to the truth of the story they’re telling, documentary filmmakers afford us rare opportunities to engage in what’s real.

Each episode included 3 short docs, organized by theme – trailblazing women, space travel & social relations, identity, and loss. To see the episode listing and details on the films, click the full event description below!

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