Dance Films of SF Spotlights a Unique Film Genre with their Annual Festival

By Eric Bean


From detailed feature documentaries to engaging short films, the SF Dance Film Festival offers something for dance enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

The San Francisco Dance Film organization and their annual film festival is at the forefront of a most vibrant and unique film genre. Dance Film SF (DFSF) is a nonprofit organization that is bringing the art of dance to new audiences through the presentation and development of dance-based media. From detailed feature documentaries to engaging short films, the festival and all of DFSF’s other activities offer something for dance enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

Q&A after BELLA documentary screening, November 4th, Delancey Theater.
Images provided by: @SFdancefilmfest

To recognize and honor all of the artists who participate in these unique films DFSF has been producing an annual Dance Film Festival (SFDFF). However, DFSF has also developed a vibrant year round set of activities and events to bolster the recognition of all the films featured in the SFDFF. The year-round activities include filmmaking workshops, panels, podcasts, and special screenings. DFSF is also involved with the production of dance films through its Co-Laboratory program, where they match top choreographers with filmmakers. 

Additionally, over the last thirteen years the event has secured its place on the international scene, drawing a vibrant and diverse range of participants from all over the world. The Festival is a place where artists can celebrate their achievements and inspire each other as a unified community. The films cover a wide range of content by highlighting everything from “screendance”, (experimental pieces created for the camera and inspired by the artist’s personal experiences, giving the audience a front row seat into how they see the world through the lens of creative movement) to live performances captured on stages all across the globe. Others are feature documentaries highlighting the process of creating dance, to historical perspectives, or behind-the-scenes views of innovative and talented choreographers, and dancers. In a nutshell the dance film community strives to share their stories utilizing modern media and dance, and DFSF has created the SFDFF in order to recognize the artists and their creativity with the annual event.

A scene from “Lift,” a 2022 documentary about dancer Steven Melendez.

This year’s festival took place over 10 days, at multiple venues. Attendees could also choose to watch on line through the virtual film festival portal. The following are excerpts from the various venue events provided by the SDDFF fall festival 2022 website: 


  • October 28th, Opening night,Lucasfilm Premiere Theater: “A specially curated program of some of the more provocative, creative and joyous dance film shorts of the year’s selections.” 
Artwork for Bay Area Shorts, 2022, SF Dance Film festival.
Images provided by: SFDFF
  • October 31st, Catherine Clark Gallery: “Featuring three experimental films to transform everyday movements and situations, extending the familiar into the realms of the beautifully poetic and comically absurd.”
Artwork for spotlight shorts, 2022, SF Dance Film festival.
Images provided by: SFDFF
  • November 3rd, Roxy Theater:  “Delve into moving stories of immigration, colonialism, and the search for cultural identity as filmmakers from diverse backgrounds champion their causes through a provocative collision of dance, storytelling, poetry and music.”


  • November 4th, Delancey Theater: BELLA,  “A feature length documentary about the life work, influence and impact of California-based choreographer/Arts Activist Bella Lewitzky.” 
Art work for feature documentary BELLA. 2022, SF dance Film festival.
Images provided by: @SFdancefilmfest
  • November 5th, Delancey Theater: A documentary “In Balanchine’s Classroom, “Reflections from George Balanchine’s former dancers. They reveal new facets of the groundbreaking choreographer as a taskmaster, mad scientist, and spiritual teacher.” And Lift, A documentary which Follows the incredible journey of Steven Melendez. Like many other kids living in homeless shelters in NYC, Steven had big dreams but no clear path.” 


  • November 6th The Brava Theater: Narrative Feature, Sin La Habana, “Leonardo, a classical dancer, and Sara, a lawyer, are young, beautiful and in love. They’re also ambitious, but their dreams are trapped by Cuba’s closed borders. Power, money, and creativity intertwine in a passionate love triangle with a hint of destiny.”
Events calendar artwork, 2022, SF Dance Film festival.
Images provided by: SFDFF
  • November 7th, closing ceremonies, The Brava Theater: “ Featuring twenty-one short dance films by Bay Area and Northern California artists, the two-part program will also feature a live performance by the polyrhythmic, multidisciplinary San Francisco-based dance and music ensemble La Mezcla.”

    2022 SF Dance Film Festival promo artwork
    Images provided by: SFDFF


There are six award categories, Documentary, Art / Experimental, Student Film, Screendance Short over 10 minutes, Screendance Short under 10 minutes, and live performance Capture. For the winners of the 2022 San Francisco Dance Film Festival please go to: Throughout the next few months SFDFF will facilitate more in-depth conversations and analysis about this year’s winners screenings, podcasts, discussion panels and more.

The Guardsman