Annual Conference


Essential Stories Online Film Festival

Essential Stories Online Film Festival

Event Date: Wednesday, November 18th and Thursday, November 19th

The DocFilm Institute at San Francisco State University invites you to our “Essential Stories” Film Festival happening on NOV 18th and 19th. As part of our annual Pluralities conference in 2020, we will explore the “essential perspectives” from a line-up of filmmakers documenting their experiences of this new, 2020 reality — one that is influenced by COVID-19 as well as various social justice movements. Essential perspectives are those that are unique to one's position and circumstance in society and the current environment. 
We encourage you to join us for a live, virtual discussion happening on Thursday, November 19 from 10 AM-12 PM as we’ll have a Q&A session with our finalists as we announce various awards. Throughout the entire duration of our program, all finalist films will be available for on-demand viewing. Attendance is FREE.
Program details and registration information are available here.


Essential Stories Lineup


Finalists: Film Screenings

Directors Films
Abby Riveros

Day After Day

Brenda Ligia Miguel

Homeland - Ilê

Mark Tom Nava

Egg and Rice

Cameron Rogers & Kenny Wooten Creativity Stays Home
Patrick J. Reilly Masks for Masc
Kyle Bastin If Not Now, Then When?
Daniel Vidaurri About Gaining Weight during Quarantine
Alberto Báez Cuando Todos Pueden Quedarse En Casa Menos Tú
Christina Katsiadakis Rainbow Windows
Dalton Tokarczyk The Voice of the Voiceless
Ana Luísa & Catarina Branco 14 Exquisite Angels
Marcello J. Hutchinson-Trujillo A Garden For George
Eline Mollet Kid On a Leash
Sam Vladimirsky Elinor Carucci: Survival Mode
Ashna Sharan Black Lives Matter
Kyle Scoble The Second Time I Got to Know my Dog
Pedro R. Oberto Moments


Award Nominations:

The Creativity and Innovation Award The Ethnographic Award The Empathy Award
Kid on a Leash About Gaining Weight During Quarantine Homeland - Ilê
Creativity Stays Home Egg and Rice Momentos
14 Exquisite Angels Cuando Todos Pueden Quedarse En Casa Menos Tú If Not Now, Then When?


Selected Recipients: Pluralities Website Showcase

Directors Films
Ana Cavazzana ComVida-20
Angel David Hurtado Orozco Vital Connections
Anzhelika Grigorieva From the Window
Azalia Muchransyah Attention at Tension
Clément Vincent Presidential
Edmond Demeter Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
Ishita Mili A Prayer
Jinna Kim Chinese Girl Wants Vote
Luca Vullo Red Zones [Episodes 1-4]
Matthew Toothill Homecoming
Nuno Barreto Why
Patrick Shepherd COVID-19 | Our Story
Rhitwick Mondal The Dairy of Diurnal Life
Rodrigo Campos & Lethicia Galo Re-Exist
Saeed Karimi Street-cleaner is not Anti-virus
Selinay Güneş The Last Supper / Son Akşam Yemeği
Uttarayan Deb Quarantine
Vipassi Calabro Sacrifice
Zorinah Juan NYC, Beloved


Medias Movements Migrations

Join us NOV 4th and 5th at San Francisco State University for an exciting line-up of filmmakers, researchers, VR, and discussion about all things nonfiction. We welcome keynote speakers Hamid Naficy (Northwestern University, Evanston Illinois) Alex Rivera and Viridiana Martinez (The Infiltrators).

Hamid Naficy is a leading authority in cultural studies of diaspora, exile, and postcolonial cinemas and media, and of Iranian and Middle Eastern cinemas and media. His areas of research and teaching include these topics as well as documentary and ethnographic cinemas. He has published nearly a dozen books (some award-winning) and scores of book chapters and journal articles. In addition, he has lectured widely, nationally and internationally, and his works have been cited and reprinted extensively and translated into many languages. Naficy has also produced many educational films and experimental videos and participated in major international film festivals, curated film series, and initiated the annual Iranian film festivals in Los Angeles in 1990 and in Houston in 1992.

Alex Rivera and Viridiana will also be present during a special screening of their film The Infiltrators. Without warning, Claudio Rojas is detained by ICE officials outside his Florida home. He is transferred to the Broward Transitional Center, a detention facility used as a holding space for imminent deportations. Terrified of never seeing him again, Claudio’s family contacts the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), a group of activist Dreamers known for stopping deportations. Believing that no one is free as long as one is in detention, NIYA enlists Marco Saavedra to self-deport with the hopes of gaining access to the detention center and impeding Claudio’s expulsion. Once inside, Marco discovers a complex for-profit institution housing hundreds of multinational immigrants, all imprisoned without trial.

Check out the full schedule on our Eventbrite page and register today! Attendance is FREE.



2018 Pluralities Poster


On NOV 6th and 7th at San Francisco State University we hosted an exciting line-up of filmmakers, researchers, VR, and discussion about all things nonfiction. We welcomed keynote speakers Jules Rosskam (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) and Sharon Daniel (University of California, Santa Cruz).

Jules Rosskam presented the day one keynote, Borders, Boundaries, and Bodies, or How I Got To Be Here: Jules Rosskam, screened his newest film, Paternal Rites and gave workshops during the conference, while interactive and participatory media artist Sharon Daniel presented the day two keynote, The Evolution of "Public Secrets." We were excited to also host artist, video maker and cinematographer Arthur Jafa in conversation with musician, producer and artist Greg Tate.

To close out the conference we screened the documentary, Survivors. Members from the Survivors team were present for a Q&A following the film. "Through the eyes of Sierra Leonean filmmakers, Survivors presents a heart-connected portrait of their country during the Ebola outbreak, exposing the complexity of the epidemic and the socio-political turmoil that lies in its wake."


Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

VR Arcade: Both days, all day

9:30am-10:45am, Who Can Occupy this Space?

  • Jennifer Arin (SF State), The Marvel of Sevilla
  • Heather Cassano (Emerson College), The Limits of My World
  • Brian Favorite (SF State), Parish
  • Meriam Salem, Unnatural Disasters

11:00am-12:15pm, Arthur Jafa & Greg Tate in Conversation

  • Arthur Jafa - Artist, video maker, and cinematographer
  • Greg Tate - Writer, musician, and producer

12:30pm-1:45pm, All is Not Lost: Claiming our Past, Present and Future 

  • Brad Barber (Brigham Young University), States of America: Wisconsin
  • Anita Chang (CSU East Bay), Tongues of Heaven, Root Tongue
  • Elizabeth Ramirez-Soto (SF State) & José Miguel Palacios, Message from Chile: Letters in Exile Cinema
  • Valerie Soe (SF State), Love Boat: Taiwan

2:00pm-3:15pm, Borders, Boundaries, and Bodies, or How I Got To Be Here: Jules Rosskam

  • Keynote – Jules Rosskam

4:00pm -5:30pm, Screening, Paternal Rites

                  with filmmaker Jules Rosskam

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

VR Arcade: Both days, all day

9:30am-10:30am, The Evolution of “Public Secrets”

  • Keynote – Sharon Daniel

10:45am-12:30pm, Documenting Place: Collective Storytelling, Community Engagement and Documentary Practice

  • Laura Chipley (SUNY College, Old Westbury), Collective Storytelling Through Experimental Documentary Practice
  • Samara Smith (SUNY College, Old Westbury), Engaging Community and Audience in Public Through Documentary Practice
  • Rachel Stevens, Place of the Big River: Entangled Stories from an Altered Landscape

1:00pm-2:15pm, Queer Sexuality

  • Celine Shimizu (SF State), Introduction and moderator
  • Kiera Abdur-Rahman (MFA Candidate, SF State School of Cinema)
  • Anaiis Cisco (MFA Candidate, SF State School of Cinema)
  • David Mai (MFA Candidate, SF State School of Cinema), ( )
  • Mychal Shanks (MFA Candidate, SF State School of Cinema)

2:30pm-4:00pm, Beyond Inclusivity, New Trends in Documentary Funding and Representation

  • Marc Smolowitz (13th Gen), Moderator
  • Sabereh Kashi and Jennifer Crystal Chien, Re-Present Media
  • Debbie Ng, SF Arts Commission
  • Jenny Slattery, SF Film
  • Lisa Burger, Independent Arts and Media

4:15pm-6:15pm, Case Study: Survivors

  • Directed by Arthur Pratt, Lansana "Barmmy Boy" Mansaray, Banker White, Anna Fitch 
  • Q&A moderated by Eric Talbert with Banker White and video comments by Arthur Pratt & Barmmy Boy

  • "Through the eyes of Sierra Leonean filmmakers, Survivors presents a heart-connected portrait of their country during the Ebola outbreak, exposing the complexity of the epidemic and the socio-political turmoil that lies in its wake."

Pluralities Logo gif




Our 2017 conference brought together thought leaders and creative professionals in symposia and conference settings to further interrogate these new approaches to scholarship and intersectionality in the burgeoning areas of nonfiction film and the humanities. Pluralities’ vision is to be part academic journal, part aggregator of underserved global voices and part provocateur to the field of nonfiction film and the visualization of the humanities.

VR exhibit at Pluralities Conference

Panel on open source journals at Pluralities Conferece