San Francisco Cinematheque Digital Archives


About San Francisco Cinematheque: Founded in 1961 by filmmaker Bruce Baillie in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Cinematheque is a non-profit media arts organization dedicated to the cultivation of the international field of non-commercial artist-made cinema. San Francisco Cinematheque inspires aesthetic dialog among artists, stimulates critical discourse, and encourages appreciation of artist-made cinema across the broader cultural landscape. Cinematheque is dedicated to presenting and encouraging study and appreciation of film, video and performance works which engage with the histories and traditions associated with forms of cinema identified under various non-commercial rubrics as avant-garde, experimental, underground, personal, graphic, abstract, expanded, visionary (etc, etc etc), including formally innovative narrative and documentary forms, animated works and other marginalized forms. In its dedication to supporting aesthetically radical cinema from all historical eras and geo-political locales, Cinematheque celebrates the breadth and depth of this vibrant art form. 

About the Archives: The Archives of San Francisco Cinematheque consist of approximately 5,275 files of paper materials; hundreds of still images; approximately 800 individual books, periodicals and film distribution catalogs and countless digital files (of varying formats) collected during the sixty-one year history of the organization. These collections contain information on thousands of films, hundreds of individual artists, hundreds of exhibiting organizations and the curatorial and administrative history of Cinematheque. Largely uncataloged, this archive is accessible to the research public (by appointment) as a benefit of Membership. For inquiries (general or specific) relating to Cinematheque’s Archives, please contact We encourage visitors to explore our online resources.

Books: Cinematheque’s collection of publications is cataloged on Librarything. These books do not circulate. For inquiries regarding this collection (including arranging access), please contact

Call for Collections! San Francisco Cinematheque actively seeks donations of archival materials—including (but by no means limited to) personal papers, memorabilia & ephemera, career documentation, personal correspondence, and notes on films and filmmaking, as well as books and periodicals relevant to our field—from film/video artists, curators, packrat/hoarders and other members of our communities, from around the Bay to around the world. Tax credit is available in exchange for donations. Please contact 

Permission to use material: Many materials held in Cinematheque’s physical and online archives and collections are protected by copyright and in many cases, Cinematheque does not hold this copyright. San Francisco Cinematheque encourages the use of copyrighted materials in accordance with fair use, as defined by copyright law. To request material from Cinematheque’s online collections for use in publications (including use in books, periodicals, films, exhibitions, websites and other uses), please contact Cinematheque staff at Note that further copyright clearance may be needed in order to use material in this manner and would therefore require negotiation with rights holders as well as from Cinematheque (as the owners of the archival material) for such use. Associated access fees may apply to requests for use of material from Cinematheque’s Archives.

Rights/Authorship: Reasonable effort has been made to determine provenance and authorship of materials presented online in CInematheque’s digital archives exhibitions but in many cases, these efforts were inconclusive. If you feel that you are the author or copyright holder of any item in Cinematheque’s online collections please contact Cinematheque staff at to discuss proper attribution or confirm permission to publish.

Cinematheque Archives Staff
Cinematheque Director: Steve Polta
Cinematheque Archives Manager: Megan Needels
Other Cinema/Avant to Live! Digital Archives Catalogers: Karissa Hahn; Lulu Zilinskas
Other Cinema/Avant to Live! Scanner Extraordinaire: Courtney Fellion
Cinematheque Administrative Associate: India Nemer