POSTPONED: Then & Now: A Legacy of Filmmaking at SFAI (Panel Discussion)
Saturday, Mar 28, 2020, 6:00PM - 8:00PM
Scully Gray Box
SFAI—Fort Mason Campus
Pier 2, 2 Marina Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94123
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Image: Toban Nicholas, Yarn Mountain, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

Then & Now: A Legacy of Filmmaking at SFAI

Saturday, March 28 | 6–7pm Panel | 7–8pm Reception
Scully Gray Box at SFAI—Fort Mason Campus

Please note: This event has been postponed due to coronavirus-related measures. Pleach check back for updates on our exhibitions and events.

Starting in 1947, Sidney Peterson taught the first film course at San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), and since then the film department has produced many great filmmakers that learn, graduate, teach, leave, and ultimately return back to SFAI. The process of learning how to make films has changed dramatically since the inception of film. Technical improvements like the iPhone make filmmaking accessible to almost everyone. From 35mm to digital to iPhones, the SFAI’s film community has a history of delivering its legacy to the next generation and connecting artists in diverse fields. The legacy includes both celebrated alumna such as Kathryn Bigelow and Laura Poitras, and many other inspiring filmmakers. In this festival, SFAI’s current students will curate a program based in the legacy they dig out from SFAI’s film archive alongside the work of SFAI alumni.

SFAI is proud to present a weekend of films featuring SFAI alumni and students with additional shorts curated by SFAI students from our eclectic archives. The festival will also host a special screening of the award-winning feature films, Letters Not About Love by Jacki Ochs, and Art and Craft featuring notable art forger and SFAI alumnus Mark Landis. Opening on March 28, films will screen throughout the day from 12–6pm and will be followed by a panel discussion and reception. We invite the public to join our 2-day film festival to experience a vibrant film community and the rich history of SFAI.


Christopher Coppola, President of PlasterCITY Productions Inc., has been a champion of and leader in digital media for over a decade. Since 1987, he has directed eleven feature films, numerous television shows and developed and produced content for alternative distribution and interactive platforms. He has spoken at CES, NAB, SHOWWEST as well as many film festivals about the future of digital filmmaking. His production company is producing low-budget feature films on which SFAI film students can intern and learn by working on set alongside professionals.

Coppola is currently the head of the film program and a tenured professor at San Francisco Art Institute.

Mike Henderson is a pioneering African American artist, filmmaker and musician, whose dynamic practice has spanned more than fifty years. Born and raised in Marshall, Missouri, Henderson received his MFA from the SFAI in 1970. His experimental short films have been screened at venues around the world, including recent presentations at the New York Film Festival (Lincoln Center); the Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago); and Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris).

Mike Henderson has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1973) and two National Endowment for the Arts Artist Grants (1989, 1978). He was recently awarded the 2019 Artadia San Francisco Award. Henderson’s paintings and films have been exhibited in such distinguished institutions as Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA; de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL. He is the subject of three solo exhibitions in the Bay Area: Honest to Goodness at the San Francisco Art Institute (2019); At the Edge of Paradise at Haines Gallery (2019); and Before the Fire, 1965-1985 at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, UC Davis, CA (2022); and is included in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983 at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA.

Toban Nichols, is a visual artist from Los Angeles. His work has been seen in film festivals & galleries around LA, in Romania, Israel, & the Netherlands. He was also featured in Pop Rally at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. After earning a Bachelors degree in painting, he studied New Media at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2003 where he received an MFA in New Genres. He has been granted a residency with the Experimental Television Center in New York, and awarded the Juror's Pick at the ArtHouse Film Festival for his video entitled "BATTLESTATIONS!! In the past six years Nichols launched a line of textiles, created a photo app for iDevices worldwide and published his first photo book titled 'MY TWIN'.

Vivian Vivas is a visual artist whose work fuses experimental film, performance, sound, video, and photography. Her work opens a door to the unconscious mind for a full-bodied, conceptual experience that challenges boundaries in contemporary issues. Through her practice, Vivian invites the audience to participate in a conversation, engaging them in the transformation of reality within a constructed world. Vivian works with allusions to a symbolism that can be rediscovered in multiple contexts, allowing both emerging concepts and the greater structure to direct her selection of media. She is currently co-chair of the film selection committee for the 2020 UN Women Film Festival San Francisco Chapter. She recently received the Best Experimental Film Award at the 2019 ARFF Barcelona Film Festival and the 2018 Kodak Award from San Francisco Art Institute. Vivian studied Art Photography at the Andy Goldstein School of Creative Photography in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before receiving her BFA with a double major in Film and Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. She has exhibited artwork in Buenos Aires, Cali, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Barcelona, among others.

Sequinette is NYC's "pastry of performance art", called a "Drag Impresario" by The New York Times and a "Dolly Parton-esque beauty" by the Village Voice. Highlights of her career include being crowned Miss LEZ 2008 in Murray Hill's queer beauty pageant, starring in Michelle Handelman's film Dorian in 2009 and winning the first ever Miss Drag Coney Island 2012. She creates performance, installations and moving image works of exquisite beauty and carefully wrought absurdity. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Film at San Francisco Art Institute and her most recent 16mm film project Fancy Phone Numbers is currently in post-production.


Jeff Gunderson has been the Librarian and Archivist at the San Francisco Art Institute since 1981. He has written on the history of California photography, the San Francisco art scene of the 1940s, and done presentations on artists Joan Brown, Elmer Bischoff, Ed Ruscha, Charles Howard, the history of LGBTQ art in San Francisco, the history of Bay Area conceptual art, and the influence of art libraries on artists. He also did the introductory essay to Black Power/Flower Power: Photographs by Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch. He is currently working on a collection of essays about open water swimming.