Festivals in Piedmont

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Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival—the longest-running film festival in the Americas—San Francisco Film Society feeds the cinematic passions of fans, filmmakers, and students, showcasing more than 300 films every year. The Film Enthusiast membership entitles movie mavens to a plethora of perks worth rubbing in the noses of adversarial cinephiles who won’t stop boasting about how much popcorn they can eat in one sitting. Members also get the skinny on San Francisco International Film Festival special events and screenings, running April 21-May 5.

39 Mesa St
San Francisco,
CA
US

In the current landscape of big-box stores and chain restaurants, many fear the dissolution of the small business. The worry is understandable, as many of these local ventures are what give cities, towns, and neighborhoods their distinctive flavor. It doesn't help that, on average, only 13% of the money spent at corporately-owned emporiums actually finds its way back to the community. This means that 87% of the dollars spent find themselves in a faraway bank account with nothing but a distant memory of the newborn pennies they left behind at home. When people give local shops and restaurants their business, however, an average of 45% of their money goes toward keeping the area and its unique culture thriving.

Fueled by this understanding, the folks at Localize It! helm The Alameda Summer Stroll, an evening of neighborhood appreciation, art, and live music. During certain days throughout the season, participants meander along several streets of the bay-adjacent burg to peruse the goods from local operations and sample locally crafted food, beer, and wine. They can even participate in a wine tasting and food pairings, as well as take advantage of discounts at area restaurants, such as Pasta Pelican, Calafia Taqueria, and East Ocean Seafood Restaurant. Along the way, neighborhood crawlers can stop to take in the musical strains of Jim Parodi and Friends or admire masterpieces by local Alameda and Oakland artists.

484 Lake Park #488
Oakland,
CA
US

The seasoned event coordinators from Dance San Francisco and SalsaCrazy channel their experience into Taste Fridays, a weekly festival that combines bustling gourmet local fare and with infectious Latin rhythms. Each Friday night, guest mixologists or local fare vendors assemble on an outdoor patio to dole out samples of handheld fare, gourmet cocktails, or demonstrations of their craft, and performances of the pancake-flipping scene from Hamlet. While the festival’s vendor list rotates weekly, past guests include Alicia's Tamales, Rocket Fish, and The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. After attendees eat, they filter into inside to the Café Cocomo's dance floor, where instructors lead them through the footwork of salsa and bachata, ensuring feet obey their masters without the need for obedience training. As live music from guest Latin musicians and bands fills the space, guests can mingle and dance until 2 a.m.

650 Indiana Street
San Francisco,
CA
US

CitySolve Urban Race lets citizens explore their metropolis through a one-day odyssey that tests speed, stamina, and smarts. Teams scamper through their burb as they solve clues ranging from anagrams and pop-culture trivia to deciphering graffiti written in pig Latin. Interspersed throughout the race are mettle-testing physical challenges, molding iron wills to such tasks as dodgeball, improv comedy games, or identifying ice-cream flavors. Each day's race also awards winners for best costumes and best tweet. Each urban iditarod takes between two to three hours, and jet packs are strictly prohibited.

128 King St
San Francisco,
CA
US

The Women's Film Institute celebrates the contribution of women to the art of filmmaking, drawing attention to underrecognized female camera-wielders and script scribblers. Entering its seventh year, the festival curates a collection of cinematic triumphs created by women from around the globe and super-women from around the universe. Important issues enjoy reanimation in documentaries such as Atomic Mom, copresented by the International Museum of Women, which recounts two mothers' contrasting experiences when the United States dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. Like a magic school bus, fiction movies help viewers dive into other people's imaginations, with films including Martha and Dee Visit the Fifth Dimension, in which Martha escapes from her neglectful suburban parents and, along with Dee, her invisible friend, embarks on an urban adventure, discovering the meaning of the universe.

3117 16th Street
San Francisco,
CA
US

Hailed as one of America’s “coolest film festivals” by MovieMaker Magazine, the Disposable Film Festival celebrates and showcases the world’s best no-budget filmmaking. The festival culls its selections from short films shot on inexpensive equipment such as cell phones, still cameras, and webcams, giving audience to a new brood of cinematic mavericks unfettered by major studios, movie stars, or caterers who never bring enough bagels. Grab a fellow cineaste and eyeball the work of shoestring Scorceses and Bergmanesque Skypers as the 2011 festival kicks off with the competitive shorts program at the grand, lavish Castro Theater. A panel of experts appraises each film, and one diminutive flick is selected by the masses to receive an Audience Choice Award, giving laypeople a taste of the judgmental fun that movie critics, mothers-in-law, and sanctimonious squirrels enjoy every day. A festival T-shirt and tote bag help opening-night attendees reminisce about the evening's miniature masterpieces, and an online gallery of past competitors provides a glimpse of the sort of artistry audiences can expect. After the show enjoy complimentary appetizers and wine from Four Vines Naked Chardonnay, Mark West Pinot Noir, and Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon at the Lookout.

429 Castro St
San Francisco,
CA
US