On the first Saturday in February, as people flocked to a nearby rave, another equally excited group of over 5,000 people joined a line snaking around the San Francisco Public Library to spend hours—from 7 pm to 2 am—inside watching performances, participating in discussions, and enjoying a very different experience of the library. For the second year in a row, the Bay Area participated in Night of Ideas, a movement happening in 150 cities throughout the world. This year’s theme, Être Vivant, or Living on the Edge, was presented by the French Consulate in San Francisco, KQED, San Francisco Public Library, and SFMOMA.
Because of our new partnership with the French Consulate as part of the Oakland/Saint-Denis Cooperation Project, we were thrilled to participate in this year’s edition by organizing a discussion, Who We Are and Where We Live: Documenting California by California Humanities between California Documentary Project grantees and the audience. Facilitated by Senior Program Officer John Lightfoot, filmmakers Amir Soltani (DOGTOWN REDEMPTION), Tom Shepard (UNSETTLED), Rodrigo Reyes (SANSÓN AND ME), and Katie Galloway (THE PUSHOUTS), shared clips of their films as well as how they found the stories, how they were transformed by them, and how the films reflect both specific times and places while also sharing universal themes.