Our History


The roots of the Ninth Street Independent Film Center go back to 1983, when Film Arts Foundation, the Bay Area’s leading membership organization of independent filmmakers, and CAAM, an organization dedicated to Asian Pacific American media, first moved into a small portion of a building at 346 Ninth Street (two blocks from the current location). Frameline, which has long been at the forefront of LGBT media, followed in 1991, and the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the first and largest festival of its kind, came aboard in 1995.

Over the years, as each of us expanded our space to meet programming needs, we came to fill most of the building in which we rented. Sharing an address allowed us to discover the places where our missions overlapped and deepened the connections between the constituencies we serve, including three culturally specific communities.

By sharing space, we discovered a wonderful synergy: Film artists were networking in our offices and hallways, audiences and volunteers met at our events and screenings, and staff and board members traded their ideas and expertise at meetings. In 1999, we collectively wrote grants for a digital projector to be shared building-wide, as well as for a publicist position to be rotated among our different festivals.

These achievements set the stage for a bigger decision: to form a partnership that would enable a transition from renting to owning our workplace. We embarked upon an extensive planning phase with clear goals: to obtain secure, affordable space and to insure our long-term stability as a consortium. The result is our current home at 145 Ninth Street.


Co-presenting programs at Ninth Street organizations’ film festivals

Creation of Northern California Independent Public Television Producers who successfully lobby Congress for the creation of the Independent Television Service and the Minority Consortium that provides over $10 million annually for the production of independent media.

Creation of the Living Room Festival, a unique public television collaboration between Bay Area’s media arts organizations and KQED. This program developed by members of the Consortium joined by 20 other media arts organizations aired for four seasons and was viewed as a national model for how public television stations could engage their local independent producers.

Creation of on-going programming at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

National Endowment for the Arts awards grant for Consortium to hire publicists to work on annual festivals for Ninth Street organizations.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation awards Consortium multi-year grant to underwrite organizations’ rents.

Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund awards Consortium grant for state-of-the-art video projector for use at festivals and other public screening programs.

Ninth Street forms innovative partnership with philanthropist and developer Steve Oliver, as well as other investors, to purchase building at 145 Ninth Street.

Organizations move into new building and Ninth Street is incorporated as a nonprofit.

Ninth Street receives lead grant of $1.25 million from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for the purchase of the building. Consortium celebrates one-year anniversary of being in new space.

Consortium buys out investor partners two years ahead of schedule and becomes complete owners of Ninth Street facility.

Ninth Street completes major improvements to first floor Screening Room.


Film Arts Foundation ceases operations and Ninth Street Media Consortium buys out Film Arts equity in the Ninth Street Independent Film Center through the generous support of the Walter and Elise Haas Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.