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The San Francisco Independent Film Festival is the manifestation of one man's frustration with film venues, or lack there of, for independent filmmakers in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1998 Jeff Ross realized there was no avenue available for his friend Rand Alexander to show his film, Caged, even though it had played the prestigious Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah that same year. Jeff took to the streets and put on a four-day event financed, like many of the films presented, with his personal credit cards. The event received an incredible amount of press and was welcomed by an independent film starved audience of over 3,000 people.

In 1999 SF IndieFest grew to a nine-day event where over 4,200 people flocked to the new SF venues, Landmark's Lumiere Theatre and the Fine Arts Cinema in Berkeley. This success represented a 40% increase over the first year, yet another indication of the strong demand for new, unique, independent film in the Bay Area.

Committed efforts of SF IndieFest to support and preserve the maverick film artist has brought a robust and talented pool of artists and their work to be submitted year round. As a result, two new venues have been conceived for the San Francisco market. Digital Underground occurring in August 2000 supports video and digital film artists while DocFest showing in Spring 2001 focused on short and feature length documentaries from around the world.