Turning the Theater into a Classroom

About CFI Education

“CFI Education provides children and young people of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to learn about themselves and the world through film.”


Offering creative film programs for Bay Area youth ages 18 and under since 1986

Serving over 6,500 students and hundreds of teachers and families every year

Using film as a tool to expand learning beyond the classroom

Developing programs and hands-on workshops to introduce students to the power of film as a communication tool; to the concept of film literacy; and building bridges of understanding throughout communities and across the globe

Celebrating diversity

Our Programs:

A Place in the World    

A six-film, seven-month curriculum for 100 repeating students from diverse schools in Richmond, Oakland, San Francisco and Marin. Students examine international films addressing universal coming-of-age issues. The program includes filmmaker Q&As and small group break-out sessions that spark discussion and create connection within the group.

Environmental Youth Forum

A full day screening of numerous films in all three theaters at the Smith Rafael Film Center.  Films, filmmakers, speakers and panels offer the most current thinking about environmental issues. The day includes group discussions and information tables hosted by local environmental groups offering concrete ways for youth to transform information and inspiration into action and advocacy.

Education Screenings at the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) 

CFI Education hosts free screenings of eight to ten films followed by Q&A sessions featuring guest filmmakers. These screenings are presented during the day and designed for school groups.

Community Cinema

These multi-generational monthly screenings feature hard-hitting, topical documentaries followed by discussions with special guests. Attendees include school groups, as well as the community at large. This program is presented in partnership with ITVS and PBS’s Independent Lens series.

Filmmakers Go To Schools 

CFI invites local and international filmmakers into Bay Area classrooms to speak about their films, the filmmaking process and the experience of being a filmmaker.

My Place 

A five-day intensive workshop for at-risk youth using film as a story-telling technique.  Youth are recruited through community Social Service agency referrals.

Each student writes and films their own personal story, fostering a positive sense of empowerment. Programs take place in San Rafael, San Francisco and Oakland.

Young Critic’s Jury

An annual three-day intensive workshop for youth ages 13-18 held in July.

Provides the opportunity to learn critical thinking and film curating skills and an understanding of movie making techniques. Seminars are taught by film industry professionals, many of them Emmy and Academy Award-wining filmmakers. A smaller group of students within the workshop are chosen to critique a selection of youth-produced films to be screened during the MVFF.

Teacher Workshops

Twice-yearly workshops designed by a working committee of Bay Area teachers to help incorporate film into the classroom. The annual September workshop highlights the films that will be offered during free education screenings at the MVFF. A late winter workshop focuses on emerging, relevant themes. Workshops include filmmaker speakers, study guides and research materials in addition to visual media to take back to the classroom.

Limited bus transportation provided by CFI to schools in need.


 “…I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to send teens from our homeless shelter to the My Place program. These teens hold big stories and the experience of expressing their life in story, sound and image is powerful.”

–Sheila Bannon, Homeward Bound

“It wasn’t until this program (A Place In The World) gave me a chance to find a new perspective that I realized the most fulfilling thing we can do is find people who are different from us in every way imaginable, and make an effort to hear them out.”

–Molly, TEAM, Tamiscal High School

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