With Film Festivals Canceled, Bay Area Filmmakers Contemplate How to Reach Audiences

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A still from the film ”499” by Director Rodrigo Reyes. It is a documentary film that incorporates fictional elements to portray the effects of the history of colonialism on society in Mexico today.

The Bay Area is the third largest economy for film and entertainment in the U.S. after New York and Los Angeles, and is home to more documentary filmmakers per capita than any other region.

With film festivals canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, independent filmmakers are being forced to rethink how to launch and promote their work. The festival circuit is where they try to make crucial connections with distributors who can help them get wider theatrical release and strike deals with broadcasters and digital platforms.

Filmmakers Marc Smolowitz, Rodrigo Reyes, Anne Flatte and Leo Herrera joined us on “Civic” to discuss their current projects and how they’ve been affected by the public health crisis. Marc also wrote about his perspective in an opinion piece for the Public Press.

Links to the filmmakers’ current projects:

“I think in three months when there’s like no new movies, people are going to be freaking out. Because, you know, there’s no filming happening. How do you finish a movie? We’re not essential, officially. But we’re so essential to culture and to everyday life. Like, film is like the most important art form in our country, in our world.” — Rodrigo Reyes


A segment from our radio show, “Civic.” Listen daily at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 102.5 FM in San Francisco.