VIDEO: Noah Cowan on San Francisco International Film Festival

Today is the opening night of the longest running film festival in the Americas – San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF). The festival runs from today through May 7, 2015 and is studded with a wonderful array of films, guests and talks.

We sat down to speak with Noah Cowan of  San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) about this year’s film festival and the strategic vision and direction he has in mind for the organization.

What is different about this year’s festival is the acknowledgement of San Francisco bay area values in the programing says Cowan. He describes the essence of San Francisco values that includes a wide range of components from innovation and technology to the political and social dynamics of the area.

Cowan spent many years at the Toronto Film Festival and helped curate lots of special projects especially on Asian films from China and South Asia. He helped curate two special programs on India’s Mani Ratnam and Raj Kapoor. So naturally we had to ask if we can expect to see more South Asian films at SFIFF. Tune in to find out what he has to say.


VIDEO: Noah Cowan on 58th San Francisco International Film Festival


San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) is gearing up to host the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 23 – May 7, 2015). This is the longest running film festival in the Americas points out Noah Cowan, Executive Director of SFFS.

What is different about this year’s festival I asked Cowan. The actual festival itself won’t feel different to long time film festival audience he points out. What is different is they have reorganized the programming to reflects the tastes of the audience. “You can find your own tribe,” is how he puts it. If you like bigger movies, you may prefer the Marquee section. Or, if you like beautiful films from around the world, you may like the World Visions section he adds.

What is the long term strategic direction of the festival? “There is no other place like San Franciso Bay area in the world,” he says. In the past they ignored San Francisco Bay area values and are acknowledging it this year’s festival. These bay area values include an interest and curiosity in technology and innovation, lifestyle, environment and food among other things. So, this year they look at film styles that reflect San Francisco bay area values on technology, innovation and lifestyle he adds.

This video is a highlight of our upcoming extended interview with Cowan.

Here is a trailer from Stanley Nelson’s “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.”


Noah Cowan on San Francisco International Film Festival

Noah Cowan

Noah Cowan

Noah Cowan is Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) that hosts the annual San Francisco International Film Festival.

Cowan joined SFFS last year, and prior to that he spent a lot of his time at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). His last post was as artistic director of the Bell Lightbox at TIFF.

In this interview we talk to Cowan about why he moved from Toronto to San Francisco and the various facets of the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival that runs from April 26 to May 6, 2015. This is the first year where Cowan has worked on the festival from the start and we wanted to find out about his vision for the film society and the film festival.

We wanted to know how they chose Alex Gibney’s film on Steve Jobs “The Man In The Machine,” as their opening night film. Or, how they came to choose Alexander Winter’s documentary “Deep Web,” a film about Silk Road and bitcoin. Both these films are about entrepreneurship and technology, the twin subjects that are of deep interest to people in the San Francisco bay area.

Besides technology, food is another important ingredient in this year’s festival and Cowan shares some of the films screening at this year’s festival.

Finally, we talk about his favorite film and growing up in an artistic family in Canada.Curious to know what is Cowan’s favorite film (s) tune in to find out.

You can follow Noah Cowan on Twitter.