The night in March when we postponed SDFF 2020 is now far behind us. It was just days before Opening Night. A set of circumstances none of us could have foreseen as Sonoma County introduced measures to severely restrict public gatherings. Nor could we have imagined the ensuing pandemic that has torn through nearly every habitable place on earth. Postponed was a statement of hope. While it is no longer possible to hold a festival gathering in person for the remainder of 2020, but we retained our hope and let it shape our response to this new set of circumstances.
We have, as so many others, turned to the Internet to present the talented work chosen for SDFF 2020. It is not possible for us to stream the original program of 72 films, and it has been difficult to make choices. Streaming is not free for us—receipts have to cover current costs and those of the festival that didn’t take place. While the chatter, energy and hugs are absent, through our online program, Docs Make House Calls, we have discovered great opportunities, beyond “lemonade,” via digital connection and exhibition.
With that in mind as an extension of possibilities, SDFF 2021 opened its call for entries July 6, 2020 for a festival in Sebastopol, California April 22 – April 25, 2021.
This past year has been marked by global upheaval of outrageous proportions. That change has only strengthened our commitment to deliver the best independent documentaries that engage, inform and excite to as wide an audience as possible, while preserving the integrity, security and the value of our filmmakers’ endeavors. We relish the opportunity to experience life through another lens; to reveal stories from voices familiar and obscure; and to explore frames of information as a base for critical thought and decisions. However, we also have a commitment to the safety of all who participate. We are optimistic that SDFF 2021 can take place with few restrictions, but are prepared to be flexible in how we fulfill our role in providing exemplary documentary work.
We hope you stay safe and well and that, when it’s possible, we can gather again. No doubt the light of films to come will guide us in determining where we are in this narrative of our generation.
–The Team at Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival