film stills from CROSSROADS 2020

CROSSROADS push[es] together the outer limits of narrative logic, experimental abstraction, and documentary… an essential festival for contemporary moving-image art.
James Hansen, The Brooklyn Rail

San Francisco’s hub for experimental film, media, and performance…
David Hudson, Criterion

…one of North America’s major showcases for avant-garde and experimental film, video and multimedia work.
— Michael Sicinski, UZAK 27

UPDATE APRIL 15, 2021: CROSSROADS 2021, originally planned (pending resolution to the COViD-19 pandemic) for theatrical presentation in early June 2021 has been postponed. Cinematheque staff is in active discussion with potential venue partners regarding “re-opening” and audience safety and is now projecting that CROSSROADS 2021 will take place in late August 2021. All entrants will be informed of accepted and declined work by mid-June, 2021.  Please watch this space for updates! Thanks to all for your patience and support over this extremely difficult past year.

Founded by filmmaker Bruce Baillie in 1961, San Francisco Cinematheque is the Bay Area’s premier venue for avant-garde/experimental, underground and personally expressive film, video and performance work. In its dedication to exhibiting works of aesthetically radical cinema from all historical eras and geo-political locales, Cinematheque cultivates the international field of artist-made cinema, inspiring aesthetic dialog and critical discourse and encouraging appreciation across the broader cultural landscape.

Inaugurated in 2010, CROSSROADS is San Francisco Cinematheque’s annual film festival, dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary avant-garde film, video and performance work. Artists featured in previous years have included Malic Amalya, Ephraim Asili, Rosa Barba, Stephanie Barber, Tommy Becker, Michael Betancourt, Stephen Broomer, Peter Burr, Emily Chao, Paul Clipson, Colectivo Los ingrávidos, Nathaniel Dorsky, Erin Espelie, Kevin Jerome Everson, Karissa Hahn, Mike Hoolboom, Ken Jacobs, Rosa John, Kerry Laitala, Alexandre Larose, Laida Lertxundi, Saul Levine, Jeanne Liotta, Cherlyn Hsing-Hsin Liu, Simon Liu, Jodie Mack, J.M. Martínez, Jesse McLean, Cristiana Miranda, Michael A. Morris, Jeremy Moss, Lydia Moyer, OJOBOCA, Alee Peoples, Miko Revereza, Michael Robinson, Margaret Rorison, Lynne Sachs, Rajee Samarasinghe, Talena Sanders, Sylvia Schedelbauer, Scott Stark, Jamilah Sabur, Jonathan Schwartz, Cauleen Smith, Deborah Stratman, Makino Takashi, Robert Todd, Kit Young and Antoinette Zwirchmayr.

CROSSROADS is curated annually by Cinematheque’s Artistic Director Steve Polta.

A history of CROSSROADS (including past line-ups) is available here. Note that the (near) entirety of CROSSROADS 2020 is available for FREE online viewing, through September 30, 2020 here.

Cinematheque seeks submissions of recent films, videos and works of performance cinema for CROSSROADS 2021, the twelfth iteration of our annual film festival. Pending resolution to the COVID-19 pandemic, CROSSROADS 2021 will be held in early June 2021 (San Francisco venue to be determined) with the festival line-up to be announced mid-April 2021. CROSSROADS 2021 will also be presented with a strong online component at www.sfcinematheque.org.

More information will be available in April 2021.




As a celebration of recent/contemporary film, video and performance, CROSSROADS prefers to preview film/video work completed 2018–2021. If you have work completed prior to 2018 that you strongly feel would be right for CROSSROADS feel free to send it along, keeping our curatorial preference in mind.



There are absolutely no hard and fast genre restrictions governing the CROSSROADS curatorial process. That said, CROSSROADS tends to lean toward presenting works that engage with the histories and traditions associated with forms of cinema identified as avant-garde, experimental, underground, personal, graphic, abstract, expanded, “visionary,” etc etc etc, including work that is otherly challenging (in terms of form and content), including “conceptual” work and work that is otherly expansive, confounding or boundary-crossing. We are also interested in formally innovative narrative and documentary forms, animated works and the like. We are less interested in traditionally-formatted narratives or topically-oriented documentary films. We delight in new forms and surprises so if you think your film is right for CROSSROADS please share. Please see this history of CROSSROADS for examples of past exhibitions and/or view CROSSROADS 2020 in its entirety (through September 30, 2020) here.  Note that for CROSSROADS 2021 (online edition) we are particularly interested in work that is performative and/or involves collaboration across digital networks or otherwise engages with aspects of livestreaming, remote viewing, and geographically dispersed artists (and audiences). 
  Please contact festival@sfcinematheque.org with any questions.

We are quite honored to present world, national and local premieres of work and proudly reference such status in promoting the festival and its programs. The CROSSROADS curatorial process is open, however, to all works regardless of “premiere status.” We hold no policy of inclusion or exclusion based on this status and such status has no bearing whatsoever on our selection decisions.

Viable formats for cinema space exhibition include 8mmSuper-8mm16mm35mmQuickTime/ProResBlu-ray and DCP. We also seek submissions of cinematic (and “cinema adjacent”) performance, multi-projector (“expanded cinema”) projection worksinstallations and other works of para/proto/quasi cinema. Our curator and technical staff delight at unusual proposals and can often rise to artistic challenges; please bring them on. Please contact festival@sfcinematheque.org with inquiries concerning alternate exhibition formats or for more information on submitting performance, installation or other non-standard, even non-theatrical work.

For the online manifestation of CROSSROADS, all works will be presented as digital video, QuickTime ProRes files preferred. To repeat what is written above, for the online edition of CROSSROADS 2021 we are particularly interested in work that is performative and/or involves collaboration across digital networks or otherwise engages with aspects of livestreaming, remote viewing, and geographically dispersed artists (and audiences).  Please contact festival@sfcinematheque.org with inquiries regarding the submission of such work.

Entries are accepted in the form of streaming online video (preferred), on DVD or on Blu-ray disc. DVD/Blu-ray submissions must be clearly labeled with film title, filmmaker name(s) and contact email address. Please include a pre-paid, SASE with your submission if you would like submitted preview media to be returned. If you simply must submit your work in a format other than those listed above, please contact us at festival@sfcinematheque.org to discuss.

NOTE (again): Submission via streaming online video is *strongly* preferred.

Access our online submission form here (or embedded below).


PLEASE NOTE: Cinematheque pays rental fees for all works screened in CROSSROADS.

CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL San Francisco Cinematheque 55 Taylor Street San Francisco CA 94102 USA

Films selected for CROSSROADS 2021 will be announced mid-April 2021. If your work is selected, we will contact you via email. You will be asked to provide an exhibition copy of your work (film or digital video) by May 15, 2021 as well as (at your option) high-resolution still images, video clips and the like (details will follow). All physical exhibition media will be returned at the conclusion of the festival. PLEASE NOTE: Cinematheque pays rental fees for all works screened in CROSSROADS.

NOTE: Entry fees are waived for Cinematheque members (with no limit on number of entries). Become a member and save!

Questions? Please contact CROSSROADS at festival@sfcinematheque.org.