Unexpected. Unusual. Unique.

This is Santa Cruz.

The Santa Cruz Film Festival is an experience. It’s about enhancing awesome films by showing them in unconventional places with unexpected surprises. It’s all happening in a city and county where odd, interesting, and unusual are the norm. Located in a diverse arts community we show films from high school and college students, new and burgeoning filmmakers, as well as established pros. We not only screen films, we make you experience them.

Anchored at the historic Rio Theater, built in 1948, films are screened in a variety of unexpected venues across the county. Coffee roasters, restaurants, building walls, surf shops, bars, museums, redwood meadows - the festival might break out anywhere.

Visit Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is an eclectic coastal town that blends natural beauty with exciting urban culture. We've got stunning beaches and Redwoods along with inspiring urban art galleries in repurposed industrial buildings. It’s a vacation destination for surfers, mountain bikers, artists, and wanderers of all sorts. No matter where you go in Santa Cruz, the spirit of infinite possibilities is sure to be present.

Santa Cruz County has been featured in over 140 television productions and feature films including; Harold and Maude, Kinsey, Frog and Wombat, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Dangerous Minds, The Tripper, Chasing Mavericks and Vertigo. Alfred Hitchcock called Santa Cruz County his home away from Hollywood. The locations that inspired both the Bates Mansion & Hotel from Psycho are located here. See if you can find them when you attend the festival.

Discover places to stay & eat

Festival History

Founded in 2001 by Jane Sullivan and Johnny Davis, the Santa Cruz Film Festival has exhibited over 1,300 independent films by national and international filmmakers, as well as films and videos produced in the greater Santa Cruz County and Monterey Bay Areas.

Over 100,000 film lovers and filmmakers from all over the world have come to Santa Cruz for the festival. Showcased films have played in unique venues such as the historic Del Mar Theatre, The Nickelodeon, Regal Riverfront Stadium Twin, The Rio Theatre, The Museum of Art & History @ the McPherson Center, The UCSC Digital Arts and New Media Theatre, Cabrillo College, 

Community Television of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz High School, The Attic Teahouse and Gallery, The Cayuga Vault, Santa Cruz Veterans Memorial Hall, and The Skyview Drive-In.

In 2008, the Santa Cruz Film Festival brought the EarthVision International Environmental Film Festival uner our wing. As a result, the SCFF has presented nearly 70 environmental films that raise awareness of critical environmental issues, explore people who pursue environmental justice, and mobilize support and action for environmental issues.


We’re a non-profit, all volunteer organization.

We present the SCFF because of our passion for film and filmmakers. 


  • Jeff Ross Director
  • Logan Walker Programming
  • Cory Barton Volunteer Manager
  • Alice Lenox-Burke Hospitality Manager

Board of Directors:

  • Catherine Segurson President
  • Elizabeth Gummere Treasurer
  • Kelsey Doyle Secretary
  • Beth Regardz
  • Francis Battaglia
  • Joyce Anderson
  • Chris McGilvray


Our incredible sponsors help make it all happen.

When you come to the festival, be sure to give them your support – and thanks!

Show your love of film and support filmmakers from around the world by becoming a SCFF sponsor.