San Francisco State University School of Cinema proudly presents a collection of documentary short films from their Undergraduate Advanced Documentary Thesis Cinema Students.

The SFSU Advanced Documentary Thesis Class is made up of 13 student filmmakers, each with the goal of producing their own short films within the 2017 Spring Semester. With hard work and determination, these students have done their part to see their visions come to fruition.

Join us for the final premiere of all 13 documentary shorts during this year’s
Advanced Documentary Thesis Short Films Program!


A poetic reflection that uses recorded audio interviews and archival footage to explore the psychological toll that “illegal” status imparts upon undocumented immigrants in the U. S. Through audio interviews with my father–who left Mexico due to rising drug violence, my mother–who fled war-torn El Salvador, and an immigration lawyer working with undocumented families seeking asylum, the film invites us to contemplate the full weight of the terms illegal and alien and the social stigmas forced upon the immigrant class.

Directed by Jon Ayon

I AM Phillip Burdick

Orlando Torres comes across a man by the name of Phillip Burdick who ends being the subject to his documentary but also a friend. Phillip Burdick opens up as to why he committed the crime that he did. With the help from his friends and family he has been able to make it closer to path of flipping his life around.

Directed by Orlando Torres

My Backyard

Rafal Bogowolski is a freelance photographer who moved to Lake Tahoe over ten years ago and there is no place he would rather be. He rides his snowmobile during the day and watches the sunset on the lake while rides his stand up paddle board in the evening.

Directed by Nicholas Solomon

Golden Gate Furniture Company

The Golden Gate Bridge attracts a number of local people in SF/Bay Area and tourists from all over the world. This documentary explores the story of Rick Bulan, who makes furniture from the steels of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Directed by Shuntaro Ogata


The story of several American-born Chinese and how it is to grow up Americanized. We hear about the ups and downs of these “model minority” citizens and how they see themselves fit in with the rest of society. They’re stereotyped, labeled, and judged by their ethnic background but does that define who they are or do they take something else from the experiences?

Directed by  Curtis Samuel Tom

A Reason to Live

Ron Kemp is a busking musician in San Francisco. When you go to Powell station, you can see Ron surrounded by people singing a song and playing his guitar. He maintains eye contact with every member of his audience and plays folk rock, or any other kinds of music that people request, with a big smile as if he is the happiest guy in the world. However, he conceals his troubled past with this new identity as an incredibly joyful man. He had difficulties throughout his childhood such as: an awfully convoluted family history, depression, drug addiction, a lonely life in jail, hunger, and living day-to-day in a car or motel; but, he has endured these painful days and has kept optimistic because of music. This film shows how music has changed his life and how he positively influence others.

Directed by Rachel Kim

Young America

Winter 2016, after spending weeks following the escalation of violence in North Dakota, Keith Hill, a 22-year-old documentary filmmaker in San Francisco, packed up his car and drove out to join the Native Americans’ protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline’s violation on the Standing Rock Reservation. He learned life-changing lessons not only about the truth of this historic event, but also about his duty and the duty of all young Americans alike in taking the country’s fate in their own hands.

Directed by Michelle Blue

Heaven Forbid

A comparative piece on stripping and burlesque and how it empowers women to love themselves and their bodies.

Directed by Shena van Spronsen

Space: SF

In the film, Space: SF the directors talk to two local musicians (Sean Thompson and Carlos Gonzalez of The Silhouette Era) and the co-owner of The Elbo Room (Matt Shapiro) to get a look at what the local music scene looks like in 2017. There are many new challenges that musicians in the city face nowadays, but the scene is still thriving due to the will to perform and the ability to adapt. We hear about what the different challenges musicians face today, The Elbo Room’s coming eviction, and the different ways people are organizing to keep performing.

Directed by John Clark


Splinters follows filmmaker Matt Hardy’s godfamily and chronicles their tumultuous history with mental illness and suicide. Over ten years after the suicide of beloved father Joe Tringali, his sons and their mother navigate the complex worlds of bipolar disorder, homelessness, and substance abuse.

Directed by Matt Hardy

Garden of Ashes

Stuck within the confines of “westernized Christianity”, a team of young adults from all around the world gather together in India to live out what they read in the Bible and to encounter the love of God like never before. From the culture to the people they meet, what they experience is far beyond what they ever imagined.

Directed by Chasidy Marie Delgado

The event is first-come, first serve – free admission – so come extra early & bring your friends and family! Personal Q&A’s with the directors will be available after the screening as well.