Crossroads 2023
Presented by San Francisco Cinematheque & Gray Area

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

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

CROSSROADS 2023 is the fourteenth manifestation of Cinematheque’s annual film festival. CROSSROADS 2023 features 62 works of film, video and performance by 64 artists representing 20 countries and territories presented in 10 curated programs. This year’s festival includes dives into archives, ecstatic gestures, haunted explorations into familial and cultural history, visceral and polymorphous erotics and deep decentering meditations on the malleable conceptions of time. Opening night capstone program spotlights three contemporary Mexican avant-garde filmmakers, with live musical performance to Elena Pardo’s (Mexico City) three-projector 16mm work Pulsos Subterráneos.

Cinematheque is proud to announce that, of these 64 featured artists, 31 are receiving their CROSSROADS debut this year. Full festival details available here.

Festival Programs


the brick and the mirror

Friday, September 8
Doors: 6:30pm / Screening: 7pm
Admission: $12 General / $10 Members

Full Program Details

CROSSROADS 2023 opens with ringing, circling bouquets of ecstatic gestures, oscillations of kinetic song, mechanical delirium, otoacoustic exaltation and corybantic instability. Speculations on rotary motion, cinematic intermittency, haptic alchemy, accident and audiovisual hallucination rise from flicker, disorientation and dissolution. Mirrors shatter. All is quiet in the turning and music fills the air. Program includes a multi-projector 16mm work by Scott Stark and live audio/video by Brent Coughenour.

giroscopio (2021) by John Muse (US) & Brendamaris Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)
dissolution (2023) by Jenelle Stafford (US) & Ramin Roshandel (US/Iran)
The Sick Sense 2023: The Year We Make Kontakte (or, My Friend Flicker) (2023) by Brent Coughenour (US)
Bouquets 31-40 (2022) by Rose Lowder (France/Peru)
Music in the Air (2023) by Scott Stark (US)

thickened light / underground pulses

Friday, September 8
Doors: 9pm / Screening: 9:30pm
Admission: $12 General / $10 Members

Full Program Details

Our CROSSROADS opening night capstone is presented on the occasion of partner organization Canyon Cinema’s Cine-Espacios, a bilingual publication documenting independent Mexican film and do-it-yourself microcinema cultures, edited by Walter Forsberg and Tzutzu Matzin. Elena Pardo’s masterful three-projector 16mm work Pulsos Subterráneos, a subjective, expanded cinema account of communities’ resistance to corporate mining in the states of Oaxaca and Zacatecas, is presented with a live score by the Bay Area’s own Guillermo Galindo. Urgently sensuous and agitational landscape films by Bruno Varela and Colectivo los ingrávidos open the screening.

presentes impuros (la luz espesada) (2023) by Bruno Varela
Coyote (2023) by Colectivo los ingrávidos
Pulsos Subterráneos/Underground Pulses (2022) by Elena Pardo


potential energies

Saturday, September 9
Doors: 12:30pm / Screening: 1pm
Admission: $12 General / $10 Members

Full Program Details

Like dialogues drifting across decades, personal archival explorations lead to visceral meditations on transgenerational lineage, struggle, trauma and triumph. Familial and cultural histories unfurl in polyphony while overwhelming color and aetherial energies dance, flicker and flow into the present moment.

that what moves: fingerinesses (2023) by Blanca García
On Unshaped Dialogue (2023) by Charlotte Clermont
Bye Bye Now (2022) by Louise Bourque
Education lost (2022) by Francisco Álvarez Ríos
Agua del Arroyo que Tiembla (2021) by Javiera Cisterna
Bodies In Dissent (2021) by Ufuoma Essi
In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun (2022) by Sylvia Schedelbauer

light slants in the wrong direction

Saturday, September 9
Doors: 3:00pm / Screening: 3:30pm
Admission: $12 General / $10 Members

Full Program Details

Wafting across the blue of distance and embodying tentative positions of emotional precarity and strength the films on this program explore internal landscapes, hauntings of childhood, distanced erotics and subterranean unravelings. The mirror is a placeless place, as tears go by.

Test Objects (2023) by Sam Drake
There, Where She is Not (2022)
Exterior Turbulence (2023) by Sofia Theodore-Pierce
My Home (2022) by Azar Saiyar
Heliotrope (2023) by Janie Geiser
tectum argenti(2022) by Joanna Byrne
Tarot Portrait: Faith (2023) by Brittany Gravely & Ken Linehan

upheld in rolling air by finer gravitations

Saturday, September 9
Doors: 5:30pm / Screening: 6:00pm
Admission: $12 General / $10 Members

Full Program Details

To the lighthouse. Program features devotional films on dailiness and intimate exploration—searching, finding, breathing in and breathing out. Films on the tactility of light, on embodied reverence, on the silence of rooms and luminous solitude.

Like a Lighthouse (2023) by Richard Tuohy & Dianna Barrie
Oxygen (2023) by Karel Doing
ipsa (I watched the Moon around the House) (2022) by Blanca García
sin título (año pasado) (2020) by Blanca García
October Light (2022) by Brandon Wilson
Ruling Star (2019) by Jerome Hiler

burning from the inside

Saturday, September 9
Doors: 8:15pm / Screening: 8:30pm
Admission: $12 General / $10 Members

Full Program Details

Visceral, volatile, eruptive, explosive and seething, alternatingly confrontational and tender, this program presents slow dives and jagged drops into personal mythologies, erotic reveries, missed connections and unrequited obsessions. Ecstatic surface noises cover lush descents into oceanic personal interiors in the culmination of the CROSSROADS night. Program dedicated to the memory of Kenneth Anger, featuring his 1953 classic Eaux D'Artifice.

Prelude (2022) by Eginhartz Kanter (Austria/Germany)
A Picture for Parco (2022) by Ayanna Dozier (US)
E'aux d'Artifice (1953) by Kenneth Anger (US)
encaustic/earth/prayer/poem (2023) by Nik Liguori (US)
Ever Wanting (for Margaret Chung) by TT Takemoto
moonshine/St. Paul (2023) by Nik Liguori (US)
untitled, skin film (2022) by Sailor DiNucci-Radley
Hevn (2022) by P. Staff (UK)
Bigger on the Inside (2022) by Angelo Madsen Minax (US)


welcome to the aftermath

Sunday, September 10
Doors: 12:30pm / Screening: 1pm
Admission: $12 General / $10 Members

Full Program Details

Citing J.-H. Rosny, Clarice Lispector, Donna Haraway and others, Deborah Stratman’s Last Things ruminates on geological time, stretching our sense of time toward the polytemporal and decentering the human perspective with an of-the-moment political exigency and a vertiginous sense of the temporally infinite. Last Things is preceded by similarly urgent considerations of volcanism and apocalypse by Ben Rivers and Cauleen Smith.

Ijen/London (2022) by Ben Rivers (UK)
My Caldera (2022) by Cauleen Smith
Last Things (2023) by Deborah Stratman (US)

water and fire (a seasonal beast)

Sunday, September 10
Doors: 3:00pm / Screening: 3:15pm
Admission: $12 General / $10 Members

Full Program Details

Bookended by two works of masterfully alchemical works of filmic printing and layering by Alexandre Larose and Pablo Mazzolo, the works in this program explore the aesthetics of the seasons and the volatility and grace of landscape while the external and internal continuously collapse into each other. Water and fire abide precariously and boundaries tremble.

I. (2022) by Alexandre Larose (Canada)
With The Tide, with the tide (2020) by Anna Kipervaser (Ukraine/US)
Yaangna Plays Itself (2022) by Adam Piron (Kiowa/Mohawk)
Moonrise (2020) by Vincent Grenier (US/Canada)
A Fire's Poem (2020) by Toney W. Merritt (US)
hoy antes hoy (2020) by Nicole Remy (Peru/Spain)
San Lorenzo Creek (2020) by Michael Damm (US)
Hough 66 (2020) by Kevin Jerome Everson (US)
Damp Moss (2020) by Christopher Thompson (US)
The Newest Olds (2020) by Pablo Mazzolo (Argentina)

sympathetic bodies

Sunday, September 10
Doors: 5:30pm / Screening: 5:45pm
Admission: $12 General / $10 Members

Full Program Details

Echoing CROSSROADS program 7, works in this program ponder geological eternity and the enduring human impulse toward mark-making, communication across the ages. Considerations of continuity and generation warp and weft with meditations on mortality, corporeality, serenity and violence.

Fluid (2023) by Carleen Maur (US)
Two Palermo (2022) by Antoinette Zwirchmayr (Austria)
L'incanto (2021) by Chiara Caterina (Italy)
TODAY IS A VERY SPECIAL DAY, Nov. 2003 (2022) by Matt Whitman (US)
Cave Painting (2023) by Siegfried A. Fruhauf (Austria)

perpetuum mobile

Sunday, September 10
Doors: 7:45pm / Screening: 8:00pm
Admission: $12 General / $10 Members

Full Program Details

Opening with two films on familial displacement and solitary inward questing, CROSSROADS 2023 concludes with notes of belief—works of visual and poetic philosophy considering repetition, change, velocity, perpetual motion, desiccated leisure and displaced labor. Time, formed from stars, acretes, flows, freezes, even stagnates and festers at the horizons of the oscillating universe.

A throwing forth (2023) by Xiao Zhang (China/US)
Surrounded by Colors We Could No Longer See (2022) by Abinadi Meza (Mexico/US)
water, clock (2021) by Zack Parrinella (US)
let the blind lead those who can't see (2023) by Sebastian Vaccaris (Australia)
bigbang (2023) by Karissa Hahn (US)
Repetitions (2022) by Morgan Quaintance (UK)
The Enlightenment (2023) by Stephanie Barber (US)

San Francisco Cinematheque

Founded in 1961, San Francisco Cinematheque cultivates the international field of non-commercial artist-made cinema through curated exhibitions, through the creation of publications and by maintaining a publicly accessible research archive. Cinematheque’s work inspires aesthetic dialog between artists, stimulates critical discourse, and encourages appreciation of artist-made cinema across the broader cultural landscape. With a grounding in non-commercial, non-narrative and non-documentary filmmaking traditions, Cinematheque’s programs broaden the public’s understanding of non-mainstream artistic filmmaking practice while expanding and challenging established art- and film historical traditions.

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